A performance that carried plenty positives, but it ended up in frustration as Burnley’s late equaliser made it end all square in another agonising 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.
Here’s some thoughts of mine one each player’s performance and my marks out of 10 for each.
NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1): Darlow – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Diame, Merino – Atsu, Perez, Kenedy – Joselu
Darlow – 6 – The own goal was pretty unlucky and not what he deserved after a few solid stops to deny Lennon and Barnes earlier in the game. His kicking was suspect, although did come out an claim well from crosses as Burnley often lumped it into the box at each and every opportunity.
Yedlin – 5 – Struggled to link up with Atsu down the right and put in a few really poor deliveries when the opportunity presented itself to get a cross into the box. Did ok defensively (although STILL looks uncomfortable with diagonal balls), but looks under confident going forward.
Lascelles – 7- Actually struggled to deal with Barnes’ power at times in the first half and didn’t always look comfortable on the ball, however he stuck to his task and still put in a solid display. Got his third goal of the season too, heading in from Kenedy’s corner.
Clark – 6 – Did ok defensively, although had mixed success in the air against Barnes. We saw his calmness and composure on the ball come on leaps and bounds last season, but he’s developing a habit of needlessly lumping it long or booting it aimlessly up to no one.
Dummett – 7 – Aside from Lascelles, Dummett looks like our most reliable defender. He stuck to his task and didn’t give Gudmundsson much room to manoeuvre all game, being on him like a rash whenever he tried to break free or get a ball into the box. He’s not spectacular (as we know), but you can’t knock the job he does defensively. A few wasteful moments in the attacking third, although he isn’t all that bad at crossing.
Diame – 8.5* – My man of the match, he’s had his critics but he was outstanding (again!). He dominated the midfield and put in perhaps his best all around performance in black and white. At times 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. Also got stuck in at every opportunity, winning headers and closing down well on countless occasions. He looked full of confidence and long may it last. Superb stuff – keep it up Mo!
Merino – 6 – Added an air of calm and class to our play in the first half and was putting in a shift and linking up well, but really did drift out of the game in the second half. Also tried to be a bit too clever on several occasions, getting robbed of possession in bad areas when he tried to wriggle his way out of tight situations. Lucky not to be booked.
Atsu – 4 – Another out of sorts performance from the winger, who looked void of all confidence and ideas most times he got the ball. He didn’t get into the game and often looked like he wanted rid when he was given the chance to really have a go at their full-back. Final ball tended to be tame. Needs to switch on and cause more problems for a player with his pace. Hopefully he can find early season form again soon as he was pretty ineffective all night.
Perez – 6 – Worked hard as ever and enjoyed some nice little bursts forward with the ball when he decided to have a go at the Burnley defence and get in behind their midfield. His play so often lacks that bit of cutting edge we’re so often missing however – with his woeful attempt at a free-kick in a good area summing his final ball in the key moments. He doesn’t seem able to kick a football with any real zip or conviction. He’s got that spark in him, but he flatters to deceive too often.
Kenedy – 8 – Would’ve been worth of the MOTM vote if it wasn’t for Diame’s top class display. He whipped in crosses/corners like we’ve rarely seen this season, bagging the assist for Lascelles header from one, and also won the penalty with a clever bit of wide play. He showed his quality and was unlucky not to score, firing a rasping shot off the inside of the post in the first half. If he continues to play like that for us this season he’ll be a superb piece of business – an impressive debut.
Joselu – 3 – Hate to come in with such a low rating for a bloke that gives his all, fights for every ball and wins so many duels in the air, but as a striker, you’re in the team to score goals and his finishing let us down massively tonight. A missed penalty in the first half and a dragged shot wide after being put in against the keeper in the second. His lack of confidence in front of goal has cost us a few points once again I’m afraid.
Hard to comment on Ritchie and Gayle (who came on late/had little involvement), but I thought Murphy put in another positive cameo in place of Atsu. Much more direct and dangerous in 30 minutes then Atsu was for 60 and someone I feel has to start ahead of him against Palace on Sunday.