This was another poor performance. We couldn’t get a Toon from the team today…..
It seems there is something telling about our away form, certainly vis a vis our home form.
I was hoping we could win this game.
But then such hope was misguided, apparently.
The thing is we started well. PEA and Lacazette linked up, and managed to score a goal. Aubameyang got free on the left, and put in a prime cross for Lacazette to slot in at the far post. It was an expert volley, and well done in seeing our top strikers combining.
Willock missed a chance shortly afterwards, which was a loose pass from the Toon defence, and Lacazette possibly could have distributed the final ball better.
Toon equalised at 35 minutes, with a great finish from Perez. A cross came in from the right, and Mustafi didn’t anticipate the run from Perez.
The first-half was pretty even overall, but the second half was indeed different.
Newcastle stepped it up, and got a warranted goal with a cross from their left-side.
Other than that, we didn’t offer much, and to use an old cliché “they wanted it more”.
Our second half performance was lacking energy, drive, and a strong mentality. We just didn’t have the temperament to handle Newcastle, and it followed the pattern of most of our away games in 2018.
The Lillywhite scum game was similar to here, as were the Swansea, Bournemouth, and Brighton games. I believe we’ve been found out tactically away from home, and even our home games lately have been touch and go. Our defensive and structural issues are getting worse, and it will only be worse unless there is not a radical change.
It may be negative to cite, but the only way here is up.
The continuous mistakes that we’ve been making all season were apparent here:
- Attacking play
PEA/Lacazette were both very good, but we showed the same sideways passing with little penetration. Auba provided some good width, in an almost Henry-esque fashion. But despite the goal, we looked pretty limp in attack.
I genuinely don’t know what to think about him. He is making monumentally grand mistakes in every game. He did well vs. Stoke, but overall he is highly erratic. He has cost us a number of goals lately, and he evidently lacks the ability to read the game, compose himself adeptly, and concentrate properly.
Is he not being coached well enough? I cannot know, nor can other fans. But then I believe with the correct guidance, he can be decent. My patience frankly with him is running thin.
- The defence/GK overall
Mustafi was not the only culprit here. The defence/GK holistically was poor. Again, it MUST be coaching. We make the same errors in every game, and it’s apparent (nay self-evident) that we lack a structure, pattern, plan, and shape.
Cech was a great keeper, and yes the past tense is apt. He’s not the keeper he was, and it’s time that we acknowledge his success in the PL era, but now it’s time to move on.
Our midfield structure is woeful, and not because Elneny, Xhaka, and Willock are bad players. We lack the balance to prosper, as we have too many box to box players, but very few mobile “hard” players. There are few out and out holding DMs these days, but we need a player like Vieira, Petit, or Silva in their primes. Somebody who can pass well, and shoot, but who has the physical energy to progress and shield the defence.
The Toon bossed us in the midfield, and this was key in the winning the game overall. Shelvey, with respect to him, is not top quality but he looked very good here. Our poor midfield balance was primary in our defeat, as well as positional awareness and (yes that word again) coaching.
Cech – 5 – Did OK at best, but made some errors amongst some good saves
Chambers – 7 – Was an able deputy for Bellerin at right-back.
Mustafi – 3 – Yes, this score may seem harsh. But it’s warranted. I believe he can succeed but not at this rate or performance level.
Holding – 5 – Did better than Mustafi, but was muscled off the ball too much.
Monreal – 6 – Was his usual steady self
Elneny – 6 – Ditto Monreal
Xhaka – 5 – Didn’t cope with Newcastle’s physicality and pace in the midfield
Willock – 5 – Able debut, but akin to Xhaka didn’t cope well. It is his debut though, so a scathing isn’t warranted.
Iwobi – 5 – Looked to get forward, but his final ball was weak
PEA – 7 – Showed good width, pace, and energy
Lacazette – 7 – Great goal, and he too showed some guile to initially trouble the Toon defence.
Welbz – 5 – Didn’t affect the game that much
Maitland-Niles – 5 – Didn’t affect the game
Nketiah – 5 – Didn’t affect the game
Man of the match
Overall, it would be Shelvey for me.
For us, PEA.
His pace and invention on the win provided our goal, and it could be prime for us to utilise next season, or for him to get 10 or more goals this season.