According to The Shields Gazette, Newcastle duo Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie are in a battle to be fit for Arsenal’s visit to St James’ Park on Saturday.
Manager Rafa Benítez is ‘optimistic’ over his England midfielder’s chances of featuring, and it would be a massive boost to The Magpies after missing the last two games.
Arsenal have not looked particularly strong in defence so far this season, and Shelvey’s playmaking ability and range of passing would be hugely useful in unlocking The Gunners’ defence. Arsenal are adopting a high line in defence, which opens the door for Shelvey to unleash his long balls over the top of the defenders, something that has become a trademark of his style of play.
While South Korean Ki Sung-yueng will be able to fill in for Shelvey in central midfield, he will struggle to replicate the impact the former Liverpool player has on the team and Benítez will be desperate for him to return.
Likewise, Matt Ritchie has missed Newcastle’s last two games, and the club could be in a predicament with out him. With Kenedy already banned, and Christian Atsu failing to impress when he has featured for The Magpies, Benítez may find his side stretched without his Scottish midfielder.
Newcastle have made a poor start to the season only managing to earn one point, in a draw against Cardiff, and crashed out of the League Cup against Championship outfit Nottingham Forest. These injuries will add insult to injury for the Spanish manager.