A real tough one to take tonight, with Spurs coming away 1-0 winners despite us being the better side for the vast majority of the game.
The first half was a complete contrast to Saturday’s early capitulation at Vicarage Road. We looked up for it and were causing problems, putting ourselves about and creating chances. The only thing that remained was our clear lack of killer instinct in and around the box.
Diame and Shelvey were back to their brilliant best, combining brilliantly to bully and out-manoeuvre a Spurs midfield which included a certain Moussa Sissoko – however it was that cutting edge in the final third we were lacking.
We have the lowest scoring top scorer in the division (Perez with 6 Premier League goals) and you could tell. Gayle, who has just five all season, got himself into some good areas but just never looked likely.
Gayle aside, there was also Lascelles’ header, Shelvey’s free-kick off the post and Murphy’s big miss in the second half. It’s a positive that we out-created a Spurs side and a reminder of what Rafa’s tactics are capable of doing, but also another sign that a proper striker is badly needed this summer.
Shelvey was outstanding and deserves a quick mention. He struggled (as we did) against Everton and West Brom, but his range of passing tonight and consistent level of quality on the ball was second to none. A better striker would’ve absolutely thrived on his service into the final third tonight.
I hope Ashley was watching. If we had a £20m striker in that side tonight we’d have most probably won. I know he’s an idiot, but even he would’ve been able to see how differently that game could’ve gone if we just had a few more quality additions.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 9, 2018
We lost tonight mainly due to an evident lack of quality in front of goal, but we didn’t have much luck either – as Benitez highlights above. I’m still not sure how we weren’t awarded a penalty when Ritchie was taken out after beating Lloris to the bounce of the ball in the box.
It’s a tough one to take and could be a big chance missed to secure our spot in the top 10, but, on a night where the three going down have been all but confirmed, I’m just glad we’ve been able to steer clear of danger.
The lads were up for it tonight and much much better. Let’s hope we can carry that into the final day against Chelsea and end the season on a high.
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