Newcastle’s attackers have taken plenty of plaudits since Saturday’s win, but one man who doesn’t grab the headlines proved himself as a crucial cog in Rafael Benitez’s machine.
The Magpies were dominant right from the off against Huddersfield on Saturday – a breather from the defensive battles fans are used to seeing from their side – and it’s no coincidence that it was Miguel Almiron’s debut.
The Paraguayan international made a huge difference to Benitez’s side, finally adding the pace in behind and composure on the ball needed to create chances against deep, organised defences.
While Almiron, Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez took all the headlines though, it was Isaac Hayden who really impressed.
The 23 year-old was desperate to leave the club in January, but has since formed a dominant pairing with Sean Longstaff in midfield, thanks mainly to injuries for both Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame.
Hayden’s recent resurgence is perhaps even more impressive than the rise of Longstaff given that the midfielder was on the verge of leaving the club, and he put in an incredibly well rounded performance on Saturday.
After a man of the match display against Wolves (according to Whoscored’s ratings) he created four chances against Huddersfield, one of which assisted Rondon’s opener, and he also fired in two shots of his own.
He completed an incredible 93 per cent of his passes, the highest of any Newcastle starter, and also won three aerial duels, four tackles and made two interceptions.
The Arsenal youth academy product is now keeping Shelvey and Diame out due to his performances rather than other factors, a true testament to Benitez’s ability to manage his players.
The Spaniard has transformed a player desperate to leave the club into one of his most trusted deputies, and the 23 year-old is now officially the club’s unsung hero.