The Chronicle journalist Mark Douglas thinks the Chelsea game showed that Jonjo Shelvey is a more integral part of the club’s first team than Jamaal Lascelles.
Neither were fit to face the Blues on Sunday, but the lack of creativity in the middle of the park was evident, despite the side holding up pretty well defensively.
Fans on Twitter were pretty much in agreement with Douglas:
Absolutely. Shelvey is irreplaceable in that sense, no one else comes close
— Alastair Campbell (@alastair10) 28 August 2018
Not particularly happy with the approach on Sunday, but it would appear that Shelvey’s absence was a huge contributing factor. Saturday’s game is not going to be pretty..
— Ben Spratt (@bensprattjourn) 28 August 2018
Agree. Ki is our Sports Direct equivalent of Jorginho (who was superb by the way) – and that’s not a slight on Ki who I think is very handy in possession, the problem was we didn’t have many others as capable on the ball. We STILL miss that creative spark.
— Potts (@Potts_131) 28 August 2018
Its an interesting point Mark, and I agree. IMO it speaks to a complete imbalance in the quality/depth of the squad. We severely lack creative talent (i.e. #10) without Shelvey, whereas we have seemingly more than enough CBs to cover.
— Zack Pensak (@ZPensak) 28 August 2018
If you’re going to sit deep and hit teams on the break, you need that player that can really pick a pass. Without them it’s aimless balls forward that come straight back. Might well mean we see Longstaff getting a shot if Shelvey is out longer.
— Andrew Nesbitt (@Nezy1909) 28 August 2018
A few thought the five-man backline helped us cover for Lascelles’ absence:
We don’t miss laccelles when he’s replaced by two extra centre half’s ha!
— NUFC Trophy Virgins (@geordiedug2) 28 August 2018
100%, think it’s more reflective of the cover than anything but Schar and Fernandez both looked really accomplished Sunday
— Ben Holden (@BenHolden_) 28 August 2018
The tactics employed against Chelsea make this a bit hard to judge. If we played with a low block and played as deep as we did at the weekend every week then having someone who can pick out a pass like Shelvey in midfield is crucial.
However, when we play with a higher line, with four at the back, the leadership and organisational qualities that Lascelles brings to the table are more important. It’s an interesting argument but I think most supporters would just like to see both players back in the starting lineup as soon as possible.