Newcastle United take on Ipswich Town at 3pm today on Easter Monday and it is a fixture that could go some way in confirming the magpies’ promotion back to the Premier League.
Whilst the result against Leeds United was frustrating, the performance was incredibly encouraging. Aleksandar Mitrovic did not get on the score-sheet but in my opinion he had a fantastic game throughout and if he continues to play like that, it will give Rafa a real selection headache. Dwight Gayle’s hamstring injury isn’t as bad as first thought (although we have heard that a couple of times recently!) and he is expected to return against Preston North End in a couple of weeks so the game today is yet another chance for Mitro to impress.
For me though, the return of Isaac Hayden was key to the level of performance against Leeds United and I hate to be so cynical but once he was replaced by Jack Colback towards the end of the game (quite rightly too given his lack of playing time recently), the game changed for the worse. The bottom line is Isaac Hayden is a very, very good player. He partners Jonjo Shelvey well in midfield; they are actually very similar players – both can defend, both can attack – and they compliment each other extremely well. We need Hayden to stay fit and sharp for the last few weeks of the season – having him in the starting eleven ahead of Colback is vital.
Another positive from the Leeds game was the late return of DeAndre Yedlin. I wrote an article on Yedlin recently on how the likes of him and Hayden often go unnoticed in games but they play a key role. They don’t get the headlines but their presence in the starting eleven is vital and our form has dipped dramatically over the last couple of months when both Hayden and Yedlin have been missing.
I am heading to the Ipswich Town game with more optimism than normal and I fully expect a victory this afternoon. The Good Friday fixtures were cruel on Newcastle United with Brighton winning, Huddersfield scoring a late, undeserved, penalty and Newcastle conceding with the last kick of the game after completely dominating the game from start to finish. I think things will be different today; Brighton will undoubtedly win comfortably at home to Wigan to all but confirm the title but I suspect Huddersfield will have a tricky game away at Derby County. Howay the lads!