Isaac Hayden’s performance at Wembley over the weekend was a prime example of the growth and development young players can achieve under Rafa Benitez’s watch.
The former Arsenal man has been delivering solid showings in recent matches but his defensive display in Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur was a real positive, despite the result.
The Magpies went into the encounter full of confidence following their impressive win over Manchester City last week and were slightly unfortunate not to leave North London with a point.
Hayden was at the heart of a resilient defensive display by Benitez’s men and was on hand to make a number of key interceptions, while his positioning in defence was also spot on to head away and clear many crosses by Spurs.
Having started most of the season on the bench or not even in the matchday squads, Benitez turned to Hayden to bring some much-needed stability and energy to the Newcastle team in a position that has been a problem time and again for the North East club this season.
The 23-year-old Hayden has started and completed seven of Newcastle’s previous eight matches in all competitions and has formed quite a formidable partnership with Sean Longstaff.
The pair have finally offered Newcastle a balanced midfield combination that lets the team revert from defence into attack quite effectively. Considering the fact Hayden reportedly (as per the Northern Echo) handed a transfer request in over the course of the summer, as well as reiterating his desire to leave in January (via the Chronicle), it’s amazing to think how important he’s become.
Hayden’s movement against Spurs on Saturday was also highly impressive and it was clever in the way he marked players in space when Mauricio Pochettino’s men were on the attack.
Newcastle are currently two points above the relegation zone and still have a lot of hard work to do in order to secure their safety in the Premier League for next season but if Benitez continues his faith and confidence in Hayden to play as a box-to-box midfielder, the club should definitely have enough power to see the season through without any trouble.
Hayden’s commitment has also been beneficial to the players around him and has allowed better security to the likes of Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu, who are more inclined to press high up the pitch. He may not want to play for the club long-term – and was linked with a Deadline Day move to Aston Villa – but Isaac Hayden is beyond crucial to Newcastle right now.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!
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