What happened to Sean and Matty Longstaff?
There is I suppose a possibility, however small, of Matty Longstaff returning to the first team against Aston Villa tonight.
The question still remains though, why were the Longstaff brothers both axed in the first place?
It’s not as if we are blessed with talent and depth in midfield.
Prior to the Villa game, Sean Longstaff has had nine Premier League starts all season, with Matty Longstaff just four.
Were they really so poor as to warrant being dropped for so long?
Sean has been on the bench lately but hasn’t featured since the loss to Sheffield United on 12 January in a bizarre batten down the hatches line-up against such a poor team.
Matty hasn’t even been on the bench since the defeat at Chelsea last month, last appearing on the actual pitch in the loss to Arsenal in January (where he was subbed off in a poor overall team performance.)
The arrival of Willock on loan in January shows that we knew reinforcements were needed, so why ignore two good young prospects who were rated so highly just a few months ago?
Really, the two midfielders they’re competing with are Shelvey and Hendrick, as Hayden is probably our best (and certainly most consistent) presence in midfield- so let’s look at some stats to see if anything stands out (all stats via premierleague.com)
Looking at general play: Sean averages 29 passes per match and Matty 28. Hendrick also averages 28, and Shelvey 47 (as expected as a key creative influence). Obviously the Longstaffs have a smaller pool of games to draw from, but not much there to differentiate them from Hendrick. Tackle accuracy is also relatively even, with Sean and Matty having success ratings of 57% and 67% respectively, while Hendrick and Shelvey have 43% and 42% each. Again, taking into account the smaller sample size of the Longstaffs, not much difference there either.
The only real stat difference is goal contributions – while neither brother has a goal or assist yet this campaign, Shelvey has one apiece, and Hendrick has an assist and two goals to his name. Rather than this being a positive however, this really shows the lack of goals in our midfield this season. Shelvey was our top scorer in the league last season with six (I know…) and bagged two assists, while Hendrick’s only assist and one of his goals this season came in the opener at West Ham, which in my opinion was his only good performance to date. The other goal came in that embarrassing defeat to a Leeds team that aren’t exactly solid at the back.
Based on the amount of criticism Shelvey has had for his inconsistency and lack of effort in some games, and Hendrick for his consistency in being very uninspiring and poor all round, you’d think it was time to give Sean and / or Matty Longstaff another chance.
At this point, anyone who has the capability of scoring should be given at least another chance to help the team out of this current predicament.
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