In a week that many people thought Newcastle midfielder Kenedy should be banned after a heinous kick to Cardiff’s Víctor Camarasa, he will be missing this week’s visit from Chelsea for a different reason.
The Brazilian is ineligible to play as he is loaned by Chelsea to The Magpies. Meaning there is a vacant gap on the left side of the field.
While there are a couple of candidates to get the nod this Sunday, Christian Atsu appears to be the most obvious. Jacob Murphy is worth a shout, and even Yoshinori Muto providing there is a formation tweak, but the Ghanaian appears to be the most clear candidate.
While they are not necessarily like-for-like replacements, Atsu can bring something different to this Newcastle team. They will lose some defensive solidity without Kenedy, and perhaps a bit of creativity, but what they will gain is a quick player that wants to get into attacking positions.
Atsu (valued at £5.4m on Transfermarkt.co.uk) will probably provide the strikers with more opportunities, as he will push further up the field. This may be beneficial if new men Salomón Rondón or Muto are to start.
Unfortunately for Newcastle fans, the quiet summer means that there is not a player that is crying out to start, and they may now appear to be slightly pushed in finding a replacement for Kenedy. The are academy players such as Cal Roberts that will eventually find their way into the first team, but that wouldn’t be wise against Chelsea. Atsu is almost the best option for want of any others.
Another key reason why Atsu deserves the start is that he will surely be motivated to face his former side. His Chelsea career never really took off, and neither has his Newcastle one. This match would be a good opportunity to impress both sides and make a statement that he is a Premier League starter.
After two games this season, Newcastle are still searching for a win. Kenedy was poor at the weekend and would have been a contender to be dropped. But Atsu must take his chance if he gets it.