When Ki Sung-yueng gets back into the first team, he is hard to replace because he’s such a tidy and efficient player who rarely gives the ball away.
He also keeps things flowing in midfield with usually the right pass and certainly in the first half last Saturday he and Isaac Hayden dominated the midfield against the Saints.
Southampton switched to 4-4-2 in the second to good effect, and they gave an excellent account of themselves, and in the end, it was a hard-earned win by the Magpies.
Isaac Hayden is in training after being taken off in the second half last Saturday with a slight injury – so we do expect Ki and Hayden to start in central midfield at Brighton on Saturday.
Ki Sung-yueng – playing well in midfield with Isaac Hayden
Rafa wants as many points as we can get in the final three games of the season – so there’s no change there.
But a win at struggling Brighton on Saturday will equal our 44 points total of last season, and then we play Liverpool and Fulham in our final two games.
Here’s what Ki Sung-yueng has said today – as reported in the Shields Gazette:
“I think the boys have the confidence now,”
“We have another target now – to get as many points as we can in the next three games and finish as close to tenth as we can.”
“Hopefully, at the next game against Brighton, we give everything again and get some more points.”
“As a football player, you always have targets in your life.”
“I think it (finishing tenth) is something we can achieve in the next three games.”
“Against Brighton, they are at the bottom of the table, so we have to be stronger and come through it.”
“It’s not a serious injury, so I think he (Hayden) will be fine for the next game.”
But we still have Mo (Diame) and Jonjo (Shelvey) on the bench, so we have quality players.”
“Everyone involved in the game gives everything and even the subs, we have some very good players on the bench.”
“So anyone who plays any game, they will do their best.”
It’s now almost impossible to reach 10th place Leicester City, who are 7 points ahead of Newcastle with a much better goal difference.
We’d have to win all our three games, and Leicester get no more than one point from their remaining three games for us to finish above them.
That’s possible but extremely unlikely.
But it would be very satisfying to beat last season’s points total of 44 points especially after getting only three draws and no wins in our first 10 games.
In our last 25 games, we have picked up 38 points and 11 wins with players like Fabian Schar, Salomon Rondon, Sean Longstaff, Isaac Hayden, Florian Lejeune, and Ki coming into the team since those first 10 games.
Miguel Almiron has also made a big difference late in the season.
So it augers well for next season that Rafa has found some good new players at Newcastle.
But it does look like Isaac Hayden will be transferred in the summer – at his own request for personal reasons.
That’s a pity.