Newcastle continued their good form this weekend beating Paul Clement's Swansea 1-0 at the Liberty stadium, following on from their 3-0 win over West Ham prior to the international break.
It means another clean sheet for the Magpies, who had been without talisman Jonjo Shelvey through suspension after his red card at Tottenham. Despite Shelvey being available for this game, Benitez decided to keep him sidelined in favour of Isaac Hayden and Mikel Merino.
Here's a few reason's why Newcastle's central midfield pairing should not be broken up again for the next game, at the expense of Jonjo Shelvey:
1. Mikel Merino Has Been a Sensation
Since his arrival on Tyneside Mikel Merino has looked like a real steal from Borussia Dortmund. Although he looked nervous in his debut against Huddersfield, he still showed touches of brilliance in that game and has gone on to improve since.
Against both West Ham and Swansea Merino showed his class in midfield, making some critical interceptions and tackles to break up play. More importantly he has showed his range of passing ability and creative flair, something that Newcastle desperately need if Shelvey isn't in the team.
2. Shelvey's Temperament Is Unreliable
Despite Shelvey claiming to have been receiving psychiatric help since his sending off at Nottingham Forest last season, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears after he trod on Dele Alli in the opening game of this campaign.
This ugly side to Jonjo Shelvey is something that puts a serious black mark next to his name when considering him for selection. Despite his undeniable talent you can't afford to be going down to ten men in the Premier League, or have someone that's as easily wound up as Shelvey in that important central midfield role.
3. Isaac Hayden's Work-rate Merits His Starting Place
In comparison to Shelvey, Isaac Hayden seems to be a relatively level-headed figure. Although he doesn't offer the same range of passing or creativity as Merino or Shelvey, what he lacks in those areas he certainly makes up for in work-rate.
The young Englishman is a combative central midfielder that often breaks up play, a trait that is vital for Newcastle in the Premier League considering that they are expected to be on the back foot for the majority of games.
If Newcastle were to play both Merino and Shelvey as the central midfield pair, although it would give them a very creative midfield, the centre of the park may lack the work rate and grit needed for the Premier League, something they'll need in their next fixture against Stoke.
4. Why Change a Winning Formula?
Since Newcastle lost Jonjo Shelvey on the opening day, they've lost to Huddersfield and then went on to beat West Ham and Swansea. The first result can be put down to new teammates trying to gel after a series of injuries and suspensions in the previous game.
However, since then the central midfield partnership of Merino and Hayden has developed and Newcastle results have improved. The pair seem to have a good relationship in midfield, understanding how one another likes to play, Merino the creative one, while Hayden is the workhorse.
This partnership has got results, so it would seem silly to break that up. Furthermore if it is Hayden that's dropped for Shelvey, it would mean Merino having to get used to another central midfield partner in his debut Premier League season.
5. Shelvey Could Move Further Forward
Despite the suggestion that Shelvey should stay out of the central midfield pair for the time being, there's little reason why he couldn't be incorporated into Rafa Benitez's side further up the pitch.
Shelvey is a creative player that also has an eye for goal, such that he could well be suited to an attacking midfield role.
Ayoze Perez has looked weak in almost every game so far this season, despite showing flashes of quality. It's possible that Benitez could well be better off with the stronger Shelvey in the upcoming fixtures.
It's certainly worth a try to fit one of Newcastle's best players into the starting lineup.