The loss to West Ham United not only had immediate repercussions, but also future ones for Newcastle United. Just when things are seemingly going well, there’s always something. The life of a Toon supporter, right?
Coming into the game in high-flying form, they left with a bitter loss and another injury added to their tally. Sean Longstaff limped off in the second-half and faces time on the sidelines.
The bright young midfielder’s been a revelation in the Toon’s revival after the New Year, giving some commendable performances to help Newcastle regain their best form. With Benitez’s side lacking bite in midfield and Jonjo Shelvey’s absence, Longstaff provided just that in helping them take control of games.
In his nine appearances so far, Longstaff already has a 76% tackling success on top of having made 10 interceptions and 46 ball recoveries (stats via Premier League). He also displayed his clinical edge with a sublime goal against Burnley and a tough-tackling attitude throughout, which makes him a fan-favourite.
However, his injury now disrupts the rhythm and winning shape Benitez had created after tons of hard work. While Mohamed Diame and Sung-Yeung Ki are there to fill in his void, they don’t seem to fit into Benitez’s system that well. The Spaniard thrived on the youthful exuberance of his midfielders, with Longstaff’s energy and willingness to work proving indispensable.
With Longstaff’s injury, Benitez needs to go back to the drawing board and churn out new plans. As tricky fixtures come thick and fast, only time will tell whether the Magpies can survive without their wily youngster.
Newcastle fans, do you think Longstaff’s absence can be problematic? Join the discussion by commenting below.