Sunday’s finale was a final chance for the players to impress in club colours as Gareth Southgate will name his England squad for the World Cup in Russia, on May 16.
On the final day of the season, Newcastle United defeated Chelsea 3-0, which saw the Magpies finish 10th in the table. Dwight Gayle opened the scoring in the first half and Ayoze Perez bagged a brace to help the Magpies end the season a high.
While Rafael Benitez’s men simply outclassed the Blues, Jonjo Shelvey provided another reminder of his talent as he bagged the Man of the Match award on Sunday. The 26-year-old ran the show with ease and poise, giving Gareth Southgate a stark cue of what he can bring to the England midfield in the World Cup.
Shelvey began the season infamously but ended it by switching on the lights for a claim in England’s World Cup squad. Getting red-carded on the Premier League opening day is still fresh in people’s minds, while Shelvey’s attitude and discipline on the field have often attracted him a lot of criticism over the years.
The 26-year-old was in and out of the team as Benitez was not happy with the midfielder’s performances and attitude. However, for quite a while now, it seemed that even Benitez understood the characteristics and qualities that Shelvey possesses.
In the world of central midfielders specialising in tidy, neat and simple passes without overdoing things, Shelvey offers a different dimension, as his ability to hurt opponents with a defence-splitting pass from midfield is too tough to ignore.
Calm and composed on the ball, the 26-year-old’s technical ability has made him such an indispensable figure in Benitez’s squad.
In a blink of an eye, the former Liverpool man is capable of delivering perfectly-timed crosses with both his right foot and weaker left foot. While he gets wrong on a number of occasions, it shows that the midfielder doesn’t lack the ambition or confidence to spray a long pass.
Shelvey is not a one-paced midfielder with simple passing and safe play. Instead, the England international is a man with a sheer variety of passing skills and superior vision that at times fails to get the recognition it truly deserves. He never shies away from those Hollywood long balls and even if he gets it wrong, he rarely seems flustered.
With the recent injury to Alex-Oxlade-Chamberlain, Southgate has to find another player to replace the Liverpool star. England simply doesn’t have proper central midfielders, let alone the quality ones.
While Jordan Henderson is a guaranteed selection at this point, I would simply go with Shelvey as the man to partner to Henderson in a double-pivot or in a midfield three if Southgate goes for the 4-3-3 formation.
Shelvey has established himself as a complete midfielder. The 26-year-old will feel that he has done everything this season to force his way into Southgate’s plans and he could be a real asset for England in the World Cup and deserves to be on the plane to Russia.