This latest injury presents biggest challenge yet to Newcastle United
The latest injury to hit Newcastle United is in reality the first one this season to really impact on the team, with Chancel Mbemba proving to be one of very few to give both quality and consistency.
Everybody from Steve McClaren down, has bemoaned the injury situation at Newcastle United this season but surely the reality is far different.
When the likes of Massadio Haidara, Vurnon Anita, Emmanuel Riviere, Sylvain Marveaux, Paul Dummett, Steven Taylor and others are injured, does it really have any significant, or even minimal, impact on the first eleven?
It would have been great if Kevin Mbabu had been fit to play last Saturday but if Dummett or Haidara had been fit, he wouldn’t have played anyway!
News is still awaited on the severity of Chancel Mbemba’s injury with the early claims suggesting well over a month as a minimum but with the player visiting specialists in both Belgium and London, the initial outlook isn’t promising.
However, if you look at the injury record this season of Newcastle’s essential and/or best players, the club had led a very charmed life, with you wondering just how much worse things would have been if the wrong players had picked up injuries before now.
I think the following six are Newcastle’s key and most talented players, including the three top goalscorers, two best defenders and the one with the most assists.
The numbers above are the number of Premier League matches each player has started this season.
As you can see, until Chancel Mbemba picked up that injury at Everton, the six players had missed only two games between them out of a possible 144.
Obviously Mitrovic has been suspended for a few games and Steve McClaren has rather bizarrely chosen at times not to play Mitrovic and/or Perez – but the bottom line is that Newcastle have been unbelievably lucky, with no proper injury to one of the six quality players in the Newcastle squad.
So how will they cope without Chancel Mbemba? A very professional performance against a garbage West Brom told us very little but Saturday will tell us plenty against Costa and the rest, even though they haven’t been at their very best this season.
Can you imagine though if Mbemba had been out all/most of the season, likewise that right-hand side partnership of Janmaat and Sissoko, which provided pretty much all of Newcastle’s attacks until the arrival of Townsend and Shelvey.
Same with Wijnaldum and his nine goals, who could have replaced him/them?
Whilst clearly Mitrovic and Perez are Newcastle’s only two hopes for goals this season.
Tim Krul would have been a candidate for some but to be honest he has been average for a few years and Rob Elliot has looked a better keeper since he came in.
Despite the win on Saturday by heart was in my mouth in the later stages as tiredness set in and a number of our key players, such as Daryl Janmaat went down in apparent pain, only then thankfully to rise to their feet a little later.
With only 13 games to go and survival still on a knife edge, fingers crossed on fitness and I give thanks that at least we added two more quality players in Townsend and Shelvey, to help give added quality and insurance against injuries to that small group of quality players already at St James Park.
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