Yesterday after I wrote my blog I had a bit of a think as to who was going to play in central midfield yesterday. Ramsey and Guendouzi was an option but for some reason it just didn’t seem 100% right to me. With Torreira out and Xhaka supposedly injured they are the natural successors in midfield but neither of them feels like a player who can sit deep and keep us ticking over.
So to hear from El Boss that Xhaka was rested today and would be available on Monday is great news.
Xhaka has been much improved this season and whilst he has still had one or two moments this season where he’s been forced into error when under pressure in his own half, these feel like they’ve been minor footnotes in a season in which he’s improved and become integral to the way we play.
He keeps us ticking over. He has all of the play in front of him and he can spot movement and build up and even now whilst there are some people who continue to doubt his value, for me I see why he’s played so much this season, plus why he’ll play on Monday night from the start assuming he doesn’t pick up a knock on training this weekend.
Xhaka and Torreira in the base of our midfield is integral to us being successful this season. The Uruguayan is perfect foil for the Swiss and despite the fact he’s gone a little quiet of late he’s still going to be missed on Monday because of his suspension.
But at least the next question that we’ll be asking is who should play alongside Xhaka, rather than who is going to ply in the centre of midfield. I suspect it’ll be Guendouzi because he’s been preferred in the deeper role as opposed to Ramsey, who has tended to play further forward, but whether the Welshman comes in to play a little deeper remains to be seen.
I guess it depends on how Emery thinks Newcastle will set up. If they go with a back three and look to sit in deep and hit us on the counter then you probably want somebody like Ramsey more than Guendouzi. Think about the goal United scored against us in the FA Cup when Pogba waltzed passed the midfield. Or when Rambo was busting a gut to get back against Rennes whilst Guendouzi was ambling back. Matteo will be a star for us but whilst we have Ramsey it’s my view that we should use him and if Newcastle are going to sit in then let’s have Xhaka and Ramsey as our deeper lying midfield base because we’re going to have more of the ball and when it does break down I’d have more faith that Ramsey will be the one chasing back to cover ground.
He’ll also offer more of a goal threat and with the season reaching its zenith in terms of importance then every statistical advantage is essential. Goals is one advantage and that’s what we need on a Monday night and that’s why I’d be going for Ramsey and Xhaka, as well as more creative players with output in front of them.
It feels like Unai has been trusting Ramsey more and more as the season has gone on and now whilst we appreciate him as his time comes to an end, let’s have as much Ramsey on the pitch as possible, because we’re going to need him if we’re going to achieve our objectives this season.
Catch you guys tomorrow.