Isaac Hayden has struggled for game time this season since his transfer request in the summer and if Rafa Benitez doesn’t place faith in him soon, he could surely soon be on his way out of the Geordie club.
When Hayden arrived in Newcastle from Arsenal, the Magpies were a Championship side that had heavily invested in a side more than able to get them straight back up. Hayden was instrumental in that side as he played 38 times in all competitions in the heart of midfield.
Upon returning to the Premier League, Hayden remained an important component in helping Newcastle finish tenth in which he anchored the midfield providing stability and balance to the side.
However, a change in game time ensued. From February 2018 until the end of that season he didn’t start another game as Benitez preferred Mikel Merino in the more defensive role of the central midfield partnership.
Since Merino’s departure to Real Sociedad in the summer, Benitez has opted for a partnership of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame most commonly within a 4-4-1-1 formation for the most part of this season.
Creativity wise, granted, it makes more sense as Newcastle can create more chances for the likes of Joselu, Salomon Rondon, Yoshinori Muto and Ayoze Perez. Although, unless Benitez opts for a 5-4-1 formation, neglecting a second striker for another defender, the lack of defensive attributes in the midfield means the backline often gets easily exposed.
When Hayden was counted on, coming on in the second game away at Cardiff City, he was sent off in just over 20 minutes for a very poor tackle which hasn’t helped his chances under Benitez as he has only featured once since.
However, if Hayden can retain his temperament like Shelvey has learnt to do, his tough tackling and ball-winning capabilities could allow him to be a key asset in helping Newcastle gain their first win of the season and trying to avoid relegation.