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Does forgotten man Henri Saivet have a future at Newcastle United?

Jake Jackman

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Saivet

It is common for a player to be forgotten about after a lengthy period outside of the match-day squad and that was true of Henri Saivet at Newcastle United. The midfielder signed for the club during January 2016 and he is approaching the two-year anniversary of his time at St James’ Park. It hasn’t been a very memorable one in the slightest and he would have been one of those surplus to requirements heading into the transfer window next month. However, a combination of injuries and suspensions led to the Senegalese international being drafted into the starting eleven for the first time this season in the Premier League.

There was a collective groan among Newcastle United supporters when they saw the team-sheet for the visit to West Ham. The club had taken one point from their previous nine matches and it was imperative that they returned to winning ways, but a central midfield partnership of Mo Diame and Saivet gave them little chance of doing that. Or so they thought.

The two midfielders worked tirelessly in the middle of the park and offered good support to the attack. They may not be the midfielders that Benitez wants to build a team around, but they showed encouraging signs on Saturday and they have provided their manager with food for thought. Both of them got on the score-sheet to help the Magpies win an end-to-end contest with one of their rivals at the bottom of the table. The three points moved the club back outside of the relegation zone and it will be interesting to see what role these two players have to play in the immediate future.

Saivet’s performance against West Ham in numbers

It was a rocky start for the 27-year-old as he gifted West Ham an early lead inside the opening few minutes. He horribly misjudged a pass, which went straight to Marko Arnautovic. The only Newcastle defender behind the ball was Ciaran Clark and some good feet from the Austrian international took him out of the game. It was a lapse of concentration from Saivet that was indicative of his lack of playing time this season. Although there remained a lot for the Hammers’ attacker to do, the goal was a direct result of a mistake from the Magpies’ midfielder.

At that moment, Newcastle supporters would have been bemoaning the selection of Saivet as he showed why he hadn’t been picked very often. It would have been easy for the midfielder to go on to have a nightmare match, but he showed great spirit to fight back and deliver a very good performance after the initial mistake. Within minutes, he was stepping up to take a free-kick and took the responsibility over more senior players in the team. The result was extraordinary as his shoot on goal was perfectly measured and found a way past Adrian. It was a great response and it will have pleased his manager.

Saivet came through as a winger in Ligue 1, before being switched to the central midfield role. There were signs when that was evident against West Ham, but it was his tenacity when winning the ball back that stood out. The Senegalese international completed five tackles, four interceptions and made eight clearances. He more than played his part in a battling Newcastle performance and helped the team come out on top against a physical opposition.

In possession, it was clear that there was some rust in his game, as he completed only 63% of his passes. Benitez will want his midfielders to have more control in the middle of the park, but there were encouraging signs in Saivet’s intentions. He often looked to make forward passes and had the energy to get up and down the pitch.

Does he have a part to play for Newcastle United?

It looked impossible for Saivet to come back and play for Newcastle this season. The midfielder left after relegation to join Saint-Ettiene on loan, but failed to impress their then-manager Christophe Galtier.

“A playmaker? I thought I’d found him with Henri Saivet. But if he did not play in England, now I know why: he is no longer hungry. At all.

“We had lost sight of who he was. We concentrated on what he had done against us with Bordeaux in the days of Willy Sagnol and René Lobello. But the Henri of Bordeaux and the Henri of England were no longer the same. It’s an example (for us).”

These were troubling quotes at the time and shed some light on why Newcastle were unable to sell Saivet during the summer. He has big wages and he has been unable to show his quality for the last two years. The comment about hunger is interesting, as the player that delivered an eye-catching performance against West Ham was committed and fighting for the cause. He looked a completely different player to the one that floundered during his early days as a Magpies player.

Realistically, Benitez will not look at Saivet as a player that has a part to play in the long-term future of Newcastle United. He has already passed his judgement of the player and it will take a lot more than one encouraging performance to change that. However, in the short-term, he has done enough to earn more minutes in the first-team, whether that be as a starter or substitute.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

English Premier League

Aston Villa reportedly not keen on keeping Josh Onomah, so what next?

The talented England youth international has had a mixed campaign at Aston Villa and Tottenham have a decision to make.

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Reports this week have confirmed what has long been suspected regarding Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Joshua Onomah. The talented maestro headed to Aston Villa at the start of the season in the hunt for regular first-team football. But next season he will not be at Villa Park, as the club have decided not to make any move to retain him next term – according to the Birmingham Mail.

This is no shock for Aston Villa or Tottenham fans. Onomah has had a difficult season at Villa Park. The 20-year-old has played plenty of football during his spell in the Midlands. Onomah has featured 34 times for Steve Bruce’s side and scored four goals. But his form has been indifferent throughout the campaign. The second-half of the season saw his form drop off dramatically. Since the turn of the year, Onomah has played just 10 times, mostly as a substitute.

Aston Villa fans were vocal in their displeasure at Onomah’s performances, perceiving him to be lackadaisical and disinterested. Most wanted to see their own talents such as Callum O’Hare and Keinan Davis get a shot instead.

(X during the Premier League 2 match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on February 5, 2017 in Liverpool, England.

So what next for Onomah?

He started the campaign with great hope. After playing a pivotal role in the England under-20 World Cup win, many felt this could be his breakthrough season.

But his spell at Villa has just highlighted the fact he is far from the finished article.

As far as a future at Tottenham goes, it is hard to see him not being loaned out again next term. Spurs have ample options in the centre of midfield – with the likes of Mousa Dembele, Moussa Sissoko, Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks all at Mauricio Pochettino’s service. With rumours of new central midfield options also arriving Onomah is likely to be loaned out again next season.

If that is the case, Spurs must choose his next location with more care. Villa already have plenty of midfield options and the youngsters coming through led to resentment among much of the fanbase whenever Onomah got the nod ahead of them.

If Tottenham can find Onomah a home in the Championship where he can play regular football week in and week out and be a star for the fans that would be the ideal solution.

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Three potential England replacements for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The Liverpool midfielder has been ruled out of the summer’s World Cup.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

It looked bad for Liverpool and England when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off during the first half of the Reds’ game against AS Roma in the Champions League and their worst fears were confirmed on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old has suffered a knee injury, which will keep him out of the rest of the season and this summer’s World Cup.

This is incredibly harsh news to take for the midfielder, who had been playing the best football of his career under Jurgen Klopp.

Last summer, he made a huge career decision as he chose to leave Arsenal to join top-six rivals Liverpool and, in hindsight, it has been a great move for him.

His influence and consistency have stood out from the centre of the park and England would have benefitted from that in Russia.

However, Gareth Southgate needs to readjust quickly and find a suitable alternative to the Liverpool midfielder.

Here are three players that could replace Oxlade-Chamberlain and receive a World Cup call this summer:

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Crystal Palace

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain has opened up an opportunity for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will now have a chance of making the plane for Russia.

The midfielder has impressed at Crystal Palace and he delivered an assured performance against Germany on his international debut. Although injuries have hindered his progress since he remains one of the only dynamic midfielders available to Gareth Southgate.

Against Germany, he completed 96.2% of his passes and completed four successful dribbles. There were a lot of people that thought the call came too soon, but he looked at home on the international stage and he will be unknown to a lot of the teams England are due to face.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was going to provide the power and pace in the England midfield. Loftus-Cheek may not be as experienced as the Liverpool man, but he can step up and perform a similar role. If he can finish the season strongly, he will have a great chance of making the squad.

England Training Session And Press Conference

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Jonjo Shelvey – Newcastle United

There are growing calls for the Newcastle United midfielder to be called up by Gareth Southgate and they will only increase with the news of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury.

Shelvey won’t be able to step into the same role, but he can provide different qualities and could be a worthy selection for England.

Newcastle’s recent surge up the league table have shown Shelvey in a good light and he has been a major reason for his team’s success.

The 26-year-old dictates the game from deep and has a passing range that can’t be matched by any other English player.

Against Arsenal, he was putting his team-mates in on goal at will and there is a place for his skills in the national set-up.

England have a number of quick attacking players and against better teams, Shelvey would provide a good option.

Southgate will need to set his side up to counter-attack and there is no better player to pick out the runs of Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy than the Newcastle midfielder.

There are risks to selecting the 26-year-old, but he deserves to be considered for the summer’s tournament.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Dele Alli – Tottenham

The Tottenham midfielder is going to go to the World Cup. Nobody can debate that, but he has found himself out of the starting eleven during recent friendly matches.

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain may benefit him, as there will now be a midfield position up for grabs.

Alli isn’t as comfortable in a central role as Oxlade-Chamberlain, but his goal threat and intelligent movement means that he could step into the starting eleven and play well.

The 22-year-old has had his critics this season, but a return of eight goals and ten assists in the Premier League underline the quality that he provides to a team.

Southgate will need to make sure Alli knows his defensive responsibilities and that the player carries them out to the letter, as England can’t afford to carry a midfield player.

At the age of 22, this summer could be an opportunity to break out for the Tottenham man.

It would be a risk to start him in a deeper role, but the rewards may be worth it.

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English Premier League

Liverpool fans licking lips at potential Mohamed Salah duel with Marcelo

Liverpool v Real Madrid is now the likely Champions League final, and Salah could leave Marcelo exposed.

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Real Madrid are now looking likely to be in the Champions League final against Liverpool after they defeated Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. After Joshua Kimmich gave Bayern the lead, it seemed the Bavarians might manage to upset the bookmakers and send Real crashing out. But goals from Marcelo and Marcos Asensio saw Real pick up a vital away win.

With Liverpool winning their first-leg against Roma 5-2, the two sides look well placed to make the final in Kiev.

Real Madrid might have won the game, but it was a performance that left Liverpool fans hopeful of facing Los Merengues in the Champions League final.

The Reds currently have perhaps the best player in world football today. Mohamed Salah has been a revelation since joining the side in the summer. Since arriving at Anfield from Roma he has scored 43 goals for the club and put his former side to the sword last night.

(Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

He infiltrated Roma’s weak and attack-minded left side over and over again in the first-leg and Liverpool fans believe he will do the same if they face Madrid.

Whilst Marcelo may have scored in the game, he did not put in the best of performances.

He left an acre of space for Kimmich to run into for Bayern’s goal. He struggled to deal with Thomas Muller at times, but if Arjen Robben had remained on the pitch it is fair to wonder if Marcelo may have had a more torrid time.

Liverpool fans are certainly excited at the prospect of Salah perhaps facing off with Marcelo in the Champions League final. Defending is not the Brazilian’s favourite aspect of his job and fans at Anfield feel that Salah might be able to leave him embarrassed if they go toe-to-toe.

Based on the evidence of the past two nights, it is hard to disagree with the Liverpool fans who feel Salah can leave Marcelo trailing…

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