What a sickener. A game we deserved to win and should have won, but missed chances kill us once again.
Rafa Benitez asked for signings to be made by January 20th and you can see just why. If Slimani had Joselu’s chances tonight then we’d have won that game. That I’m almost certain of. Here lies Rafa’s huge problem with Mike Ashley’s approach to the January window. The striker (Slimani) may have been signed, but in signing him too late it’s cost us another BIG chance to get three points – and these ‘winnable’ games are running out.
It was cruel on us to see a win snatched off us late on, but Joselu’s missed penalty, his dragged shot wide, Kenedy’s shot off the post and the missed open goal on the rebound from Atsu always had me thinking ‘we might just throw this one away’..and we did.
Anyway, onwards and upwards – Slimani is now signed and there’s now real potential to turn those sort of draws into big three points.
Onto performances and a massive hat tip to Mo Diame to begin with. I’ll get onto Kenedy in a second (who showed real promise on his debut), but big Mo was outstanding. He was tackling like Tiote, passing like an on-song Jonjo Shelvey and generally looked much more alert, alive and all action in everything he did. He’s been much better over the past month, so this wasn’t a big performance out the blue, but it was without one of his best performances in black and white.
Now to Kenedy. I was very impressed. I was worried he may showboat and frustrate at times, but he so often played the right pass, showed real quality and gave us something different. Whipped corners (which assisted Lascelles’ goal) like we’ve not seen this season and a wicked shot edge of the box that rattled the post and had Pope well and truly beaten in the first half.
Atsu was awful, Merino losing it in a few silly areas (although I still love him in the team) and the obvious missed chances from Joselu, I couldn’t have many complaints. That being said, I really do hope Benitez gives Murphy a chance from the start at Palace on Sunday. He looks MUCH more threatening than Atsu at the minute, who needs to pull his finger out.
Palace next on Sunday – another massive game – but so is every game between now and the end of the season. HWTL.