Newcastle travel to north London on Monday night to take on Arsenal, and it’s the perfect chance for Jonjo Shelvey to prove he deserves another chance with the club.
Shelvey has fallen completely by the wayside this season, despite being one of the most influential figures in the 2018 revival.
The run of form that saw the Magpies shoot up to tenth in the table last year was guided by Shelvey’s magnificent passing and control in the middle of the park, albeit with a little help from the rock solid pairing of Jamaal Lascelles and Florian Lejeune behind him.
And yet, the 27 year-old has played just 13 times in the league this term and after missing time through injury came back to discover that Sean Longstaff had taken his spot… so what must Shelvey do to win it back?
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It should be noted that the former England international is by no means guaranteed to start at the Emirates on Monday, but this is surely the best chance he has had of doing so in quite some time.
With Longstaff out, Isaac Hayden getting closer to another transfer window of intense speculation and Mo Diame nearing the end of his contract, Rafael Benitez is quite simply running out of options in the middle of the park.
If Shelvey does get the nod, Unai Emery’s three-at-the-back system is actually tailor made for the midfielder to exploit, especially after the addition of Miguel Almiron.
Part of what made Shelvey so effective last year was the speed and constant movement of Kenedy, something Almiron can offer with the added bonus that he is actually good at football (sorry Kenedy).
Shelvey’s long balls in behind will terrorise Arsenal’s notoriously bad back three (they have kept just six clean sheets all season), especially when their wing-backs bomb forward, as they love to do at home.
The massive Emirates pitch will also lend itself to those searching balls towards Almiron’s flank, and perhaps the Paraguayan can even find his first Magpies goal courtesy of Shelvey.
If the former Liverpool man plays like he did in the second half of last season on Monday night, it could turn his whole career around, and it could be really bad news for Arsenal.