It really is time for Gini Wijnaldum to be ‘rested’
Gini Wijnaldum has started every single Premier League game since he arrived at St James Park in the summer.
In 33 starts, Wijnaldum has been subbed off only five times and played 2,869 minutes of a possible 2,970 in the league, remarkably missing only 101 Premier League minutes.
A great testament to his fitness and impressive considering he arrived from a weaker league and has had to cope with playing for a relegation candidate all season, having left PSV as Champions less than a year ago.
But, there’s always a but, there has to be a moment when reality kicks in, the fact that Wijnaldum is still Newcastle’s top scorer has camouflaged the reality of the last six months or so.
The four goals against Norwich made it six in only nine PL games but since then…
It has in all honesty been a poor last half year from the former PSV Captain, three further goals in 24 games, plus the odd assist. In fact in the last three months, I struggle to remember him doing anything apart from the assist when Mitrovic equalised against the mackems.
To make matters worse, it appears that he is the player who is given most freedom to try and inspire and make a difference, often excused much in terms of defensive duties, the Dutch international has consistently….failed to deliver.
A bit like Mitrovic who was expected to step in and instantly cure the striker problem, far too much has been asked of Gini Wijnaldum as he steps up a league.
However, the difference is that Mitrovic has regularly been taken out of the firing line and given the chance to refresh and come again. Saturday only the latest as he came on against Swansea and was instrumental in seeing out the win, gaining the corner that led to the second goal and then assisting Townsend for the third.
Meanwhile…Wijnaldum toiled away for 73 minutes with hardly a kick, before Perez replaced him with 17 minutes left on the clock.
Surely now is the time for Rafa Benitez to rest Gini Wijnaldum against Manchester City and look to use him as an impact sub, something which just may reignite his spark.
In a better team maybe he would have continued to be more effective but in this Newcastle team that is regularly on the back foot (despite the win Newcastle only had 34% possession v Swansea), you often forget that Wijnaldum is even still on the pitch.
I would put Andros Townsend in that free role behind the striker against Man City and encourage him to take his man on and shoot on sight. Despite some poor team performances, in the last six Newcastle matches Townsend has scored three goals and created two goals.
It is not a case of writing Gini Wijnaldum off, more a case of managing his situation and trying to kickstart his goalscoring/impact by not continuing to flog the dead horse that is blindly picking him every single game from the start.
Wijnaldum still has a part to play but maybe in these final five games, possibly ‘less is more’ where the Dutch international is concerned.
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