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17th Apr, 2017 | 4:59pm

Benitez must strengthen this area: Three things we learned about Newcastle in Ipswich defeat

By Matt Farr

Football Insider analyses three of the main talking points from Newcastle’s 3-1 defeat to Ipswich in the Championship on Monday.

Not consistent enough

Newcastle have spent the majority of the season challenging at the top of the Championship table, and that is down to a string of impressive performances. However, Newcastle have also been prone to a number of weak displays, and their clash with Ipswich saw them far from their best. They played well against Leeds on Friday, despite their 1-1 draw, but their displaay against at Portman Road was far from the same standard. There was no real rhythm to Newcastle’s game, and they were particularly wasteful in possession. There was an absence of precision in their passing, and no real evidence of any positive direction from them throughout. It’s performances like this that could see the league title fall into the hands of rivals Brighton, who are now well clear at the top of the table. They need to be more consistent if they are to strike further success in the coming years.

Newcastle need another Shelvey

Despite the result, Newcastle are still firmly on course to seal promotion back to the Premier League. But if they are to ensure their survival in the top flight, they will need to add more quality and productivity to their central midfield options. Jonjo Shelvey has been the main creative outlet in the engine room for the majority of the campaign, contributing 12 assists from his 44 appearances. But he was lacking in his usual precision against Ipswich, and Newcastle had few other options. Mo Diame was ineffective, while Isaac Hayden is more adept to defensive situations than attacking ones. Therefore, Rafa Benitez must land himself another ‘Shelvey’ this summer; someone with similar passing range and accuracy, to ensure Newcastle have more options up their sleeve if Plan A fails. Defensive additions will clearly be required after a tame display, but reinforcements in the midfield area is also imperative this summer.

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Benitez should sign 25-year-old

One of the few positives on a very disappointing day for Newcastle was the performance of Christian Atsu. The 25-year-old winger gave a spirited attacking display, offering rare moments of class in what was a below-par effort from the away side. His attacking intent, and direct running caused a few problems for Ipswich on the right hand side of their defence, while his fine delivery was rewarded with an assist for Daryl Murphy’s goal. Atsu offers little defensively, but has been a fine addition to the Newcastle ranks in the final third, and if the opportunity arises for Benitez to acquire him on a permanent deal at the end of the season, he should do just that.

In other Newcastle news, Football Insider has rated the Newcastle players during the defeat.

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