An incredible display form the lads on a day where everyone mucked in and gave it their all to earn a monumental 1-0 victory over Mourinho’s Man Utd.
After watching it closely from the Gallowgate this afternoon, here’s my thoughts on each player’s performance and my marks out of 10.
NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy – Gayle
Dubravka* – 10 – I’m yet to hand out a perfect 10 this season, but I couldn’t fault a single thing the Slovakian did in quite an incredible introduction into the Premier League for the lad. He was outstanding. He made several key saves, stopping with his legs to deny Martial’s one on one and somehow reacting to palm away what looked a certain goal in the dying moments. He commanded his box with real confidence, with some decisive claims and punches to take the pressure off the defence. He was quick off his line to clear up balls in behind to their on-rushing attackers & also looked confident with the ball at his feet, with him being keen to play out but also accurate with the vast majority of his goal kicks. I was nervous to hear he was starting as it seemed a huge occasion for him to be thrown in at the deep end for his debut, but I couldn’t have been happier with how he looked.
Yedlin – 7.5 – Sanchez was busy and a constant threat for the visitors, being perhaps their most persistent threat, but Yedlin stuck to his task and stayed pretty switched on throughout. He gave away the odd needless free-kick and was erratic in possession at times, with a few stray passes or touches, but he stood up to the test brilliantly.
Lascelles – 9 – A man mountain of a performance from the skipper who was alert and alive to just about everything they threw into our box. He won his battles with Lukaku more often than not, put in several huge blocks and was first to every dangerous ball into the box in the final few moments. A massive display from the captain who was the driving force behind our clean sheet today.
Lejeune – 9 – For a player who hasn’t played for a few months and someone who had looked shaky last time we’ve seen him at the back, he was outstanding. He stood up to Lukaku’s physicality and won his fair share in the air, was positive in the way he looked to play out from the back, made a MASSIVE block to deny what looked like a certain Sanchez goal & played a big part in our goal to win the flick on in the box. He sometimes likes to get a bit too tight and gave away the odd needless foul with him being a little over-eager to win back the ball, but he’s got a touch of class about him. Was great to see him perform alongside Lascelles after a disastrous spell at the back with Clark prior to his injury last year.
Dummett – 8 – Yet another solid, switched on and no nonsense display from the left-back. He wasted a few chances in the first half to put crosses into the box, however his defensive play was brilliant once again. Aside from the odd moment where Martial’s pace saw him get in behind him, he was alert to the danger at all times. Some great back post headers and blocks, with him sensing the danger and cutting it out at times when so many modern day full back’s in this day and age wouldn’t. He’s limited in the final third, but he proved his worth for us at the back with another dogged display in this one.
Diame – 9 – Another outstanding shift from big Mo in the middle. His turnaround in form has been nothing short of sensational and he was at it in just about every department again today. He set the tempo from the off, getting in their faces, winning his battles and turning over possession more than any other player on the field. He also showed some calmness and quality on the ball too, with some clever passes in tight situations as they chased us down in the second half. He gave it his all and was out on his feet at the full time whistle, but it was another monstrous performance from our new midfield enforcer. Had Paul Pogba in his back pocket..
Shelvey – 9 – Against Palace last weekend I criticised Shelvey for disappearing in the second half when we saw little of the ball. Today was the opposite. Much more measured and controlled. He put in several superbly timed tackles, never stopped working away and kept going until the end. He was unlucky to see his stinging shot saved by De Gea early on, but went from strength to strength from then on in. Great to see an all action performance from Shelvey that contained controlled aggression and hard work. A committed and well rounded display and probably his best of the season to date.
Ritchie – 8.5 – I’ve been critical of his lack of involvement at times this season, also feeling he’s not shown the sort of quality on the ball we saw from him last season, however he showed signs today of the busy, bright and bustling Matt Ritchie we all grew to love last season. He took his all important goal well, showed some touches of class and made some clever passes and carried much more of an attacking threat amongst all his hard work at the other end. His first goal of the season and the sort of performance we need from him every week between now and the end of the season.
Perez – 6.5 – Was our most frustrating player for the vast majority of the game, losing the ball cheaply and failing to show any sort of quality in some big moments in the final third, however he deserves real credit for his constant chasing and the role he played in the last 10 minutes. He played a big role late on to win fouls, earn throw ins and run the clock down as they pushed for an equaliser. He needs to offer much more on the ball, but he did play a crucial role in the closing stages and never stopped running despite some frustrating pieces of play.
Kenedy – 7 – He looked tired late on and did become quite sloppy towards the back end of the second half, however he looks like being a really good buy for us. He’s direct, decisive and has a brilliant left foot on him, with one rasping long range effort of his proving just how well he can strike a ball. Also worth mentioning that he did a good job down Dummett’s side to track and double up on the likes of Valencia and Martial. Didn’t have a huge impact on today’s game, but showed once again that he’s got quality and is ready to muck in and
Gayle – 7 – He made a nuisance of himself up top all game and put in a massive shift to unsettle their two CB’s. His final ball let him down the odd time, with there being one moment where he messed up a golden chance to put Perez through on goal, however he worked his socks off, competed for every ball and made the ball stick much more than he has done recently.
Atsu and Joselu came on late on. The Ghanaian gave us some fresh legs in place of Kenedy and ran at/won fouls against a tiring Valencia, whilst Joselu held it up pretty well and gave us a decent focal point to hit just when we needed someone to help us keep the ball late on.
Hayden came on in stoppage time so wasn’t on long enough to do anything of note.