After two crucial goals and some crucial pieces of defending, it’s no surprise to see Fabian Schar’s name in the side, but some may be surprised to see Hayden selected:
It’s fully deserved in my eyes. He may want out – and he’s sometimes played like a player that didn’t want to be here – but he now appears to have rolled his sleeves up and knuckled down; no matter how badly he wants to leave for personal reasons.
Hayden has often looked a shadow of the player we saw soon after he arrived two summers ago, but he did a great job in the ‘Diame role’, forming a surprisingly effective partnership with youngster Sean Longstaff.
He got stuck in, won several challenges, kept the ball moving better than he has done in the past, won plenty in the air and protected our defence well.
The last time he played against Cardiff he came on as a sub and got sent off after a stupid tackle, showing the body language of a player who didn’t want to be here. But, to his credit, he stuck to his task brilliantly on Saturday and did a solid job for the team, helping us to arguably our biggest win of the season so far.
A move away would suit all parties if we found a replacement between now and the end of the transfer window, but credit where credits due – he didn’t let us down on Saturday.