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Opinion

Might not be popular opinion but Ki Sung-yeung form peaked and has been in decline – Need him back to best

2 years ago
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The reintroduction of Ki Sung-yeung into the team has coincided with the turn around in form for Newcastle United.

Rafa Benitez forced into three substitutions in the home game with Watford as Newcastle struggled in the relegation zone.

Muto and Lascelles limping off, all looked lost when Shelvey joined then in the 51st minute.

However, Ki Sung-yeung came on and transformed the game.

Suddenly he got Newcastle actually playing football, his passing and movement at last energising those around him.

After winning the free-kick himself (could ave actually been given as a penalty), the South Korean international produced the best free-kick delivery of the season for Perez to glance home.

Jonjo Shelvey stayed out of the team injured and Ki Sung-yeung stayed in.

Helping to then inspire the team to wins over Bournemouth and Burnley, whilst even in the 3-0 defeat to West Ham, Ki continued to drive NUFC forward for the 90 minutes.

Since that point though I don’t think he has been anywhere near the levels shown in that little run, he hasn’t been terrible, just his influence fading with each of these last three matches.

Personally, I think it might be a case of a knock on effect from the World Cup following a tough relegation season at Swansea, Rafa played Ki Sung-yeung early in the season against Chelsea and Man City but then ended up leaving him out of the matchday squad.

The manager maybe seeing that Ki needed time to get back to full fitness and focus.

With Shelvey out injured, Rafa Benitez has had no choice but to play Diame and Ki every match and possibly after a relatively lot of games in a short space of time after not much football since the world cup, the South Korean international could have done with possibly a rest on the bench for a game or two.

I looked at the collective fan match ratings on The Mag for each of the games and they appear to back up what I have seen with my own eyes.

Here are the 10 games Ki Sung-yeung has been involved with, the collective fan score for the player out of 10, in brackets who got the highest score, and then how high Ki was ranked amongst the Newcastle players:

Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2 – Ki Sung-yeung 5.2 (6.7 Dubravka) and 10th

Man City 2 Newcastle 1 – Ki Sung-yeung 5.0 (8.7 Dubravka) and 10th

Southampton 0 Newcastle 0 – Ki Sung-yeung 3.6 (7.8 Dubravka) and 10th

Newcastle 1 Watford 0 – Ki Sung-yeung 8.1 and First

Newcastle 2 Bournemouth 1 – Ki Sung-yeung 8.1 (9.2 Rondon) and 4th

Burnley 1 Newcastle 2 – Ki Sung-yeung 8.0 (8.1 Fernandez) and 2nd

Newcastle 0 West Ham 3 – Ki Sung-yeung 6.8 and First

Everton 1 Newcastle 1 – Ki Sung-yeung 6.7 (8.6 Dubravka) and 5th

Newcastle 1 Wolves 2 – Ki Sung-yeung 6.4 (7.6 Dubravka) and 4th

Huddersfield 0 Newcastle 1 – Ki Sung-yeung 5.8 (7.9 Dubravka) and 8th

Against Southampton he only had a brief sub appearance but then once getting his chance against Watford, was once of our most influential players four games in a row, the most influential one in terms of creatively and pushing the team forward. He might have been only fourth highest v Bournemouth but fans rated him 8.1 and he was just marginally behind the players who were second and third.

However, in these Everton and Wolves matches, and certainly Huddersfield last week, Ki was way below that kind of form.

In fact Newcastle had next to no control of the centre of the pitch against Huddersfield and at home to Wolves was second best against his opponents.

Due to the weak squad, there is far too much reliance on our free transfer from Swansea, especially in the absence of Shelvey.

Against Fulham we really need him, and indeed Diame as well, back to somewhere near their best, as this is a midfield battle Newcastle need to win.

Incidentally, incredible to see just how much we have relied on Dubravka this season, in these 10 games Ki has played, Martin Dubravka has been man of the match for NUFC six times!
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