A potentially season-defining day at St James’ Park, with Ayoze Perez’s second half header giving us a much needed 1-0 win over Watford.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance and my marks out of 10.
NUFC XI – (4-4-2): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett – Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy – Muto, Rondon.
Dubravka – 7 – Watford missed several big chances in the first half, but rarely got them on target fortunately for us. When Dubravka did have a big save to make, he made it though, with him getting down to his right well to stop Deulofeu in the first half.
Yedlin – 4 – He improved in the final quarter of the game as we battled to preserve our 1-0 lead, but he really did struggle today. He never got close to Pereyra, lost the ball in some bad areas and didn’t manage to get himself in many good attacking positions. They created a LOT of chances and the vast majority of them came down his side.
Lascelles – 6 – Needed to be a bit more no nonsense, with him sometimes opting to be a bit too clever when it should’ve gone into row Z. Some decent last ditch blocks, however we were a bit all over the shop at the back while he was on – even if he did get back well on a few occasions.
Fernandez – 8 – Our best defender today – not for the first time this season! Showed decent pace to make a few important recovery challenges to stop Deulofeu getting in behind and was solid as a rock as Watford threw the kitchen sink at us late on. A class act and one of our signings of the summer.
Dummett – 6 – Did a solid job, with them rarely getting much joy out of him down their right hand side, preferring instead to target Yedlin on the other side. Didn’t support Kenedy enough from an offensive perspective, but solid defensively (although not tested a great deal).
Ritchie – 5 – Very ineffective in the first half, with him struggling to protect Yedlin and failing to get anything going at the other end, however he did put in a huge shift in the second half despite being crippled with cramp. His work rate and desire to win shows that, even on an off day, players with his attitude are so important to what we’re trying to achieve.
Diame – 5 – Similar to Ritchie in that he was not doing his job in the first half, but turned it around in the second half, battling for every ball to protect our lead. His first half rating would’ve been a 3 at best – with him so sloppy on the ball and struggling to get close to their midfielders – but the job he did in the second period was vital to us protecting our lead.
Shelvey – 5 – Never got going, with Doucoure and Capoue winning the midfield battle early on. With Diame also struggling, he didn’t really get himself into the game, with him often resorting to long punts up to Rondon when he did get it. A few those were effective, but he didn’t offer enough and looked a little sluggish before coming off injured five minutes into the second.
Kenedy – 7 – I was going to give him a six, but the goal saving challenge he made late on in the game was deserving of a higher mark. Just as Gray looked set to tap in from six yards out, Kenedy made a last ditch challenge to deny what seemed like a certain goal – all after running the length of the pitch to get back! He didn’t really get THAT much going from an offensive perspective, but he never stopped trying – and his challenge late on was probably as important as Perez’s header!
Muto – 6.5 – It was a shame to see him limp off just before the break. Despite a lack of service, he had a few promising bits of link up with Rondon and often made something out of nothing when any loose balls came his way. His final ball and composure was lacking more often than not, but his energy, pace and intelligence in his movement was positive.
Rondon – 7 – Deserves real credit for the part he played today. Nobody was expecting him to play more than 60 minutes, but he battled on until the end and played a vital role. Looked a real handful and worked very hard – having too much power for the at times. Was a little sloppy early on but he found his feet in the game, protected the ball when, won plenty flick ones and ran himself into the ground.
Perez – 7 – Was less wasteful and frustrating than we’ve seen him be recently and read the flight of Ki’s cross perfectly to head home and give us all three points. He always seems to struggle when he has time to think about things, but proved once again today that he’s dangerous in the box when it comes to instinctive finishes.
Ki – 9* – Changed the game. Many will have feared for us when Shelvey hobbled off after 50 minutes, but Ki was absolutely outstanding as soon as he came on. He showed urgency, always looked forward and immediately got us on the front foot – whether it be from a sharp pass or a quick burst forward with the ball. Deliveries from corners were superb – with his whipped cross for Perez’s goal showing just how well he can strike a ball.
Schar – 9 – Perez will make the headlines and Ki will have caught the eye, but Schar didn’t put a foot wrong and absolutely bossed Isaac Success (who was causing us problems all afternoon) as soon as he came on. He won everything in the air, stood up to everything they threw at us late on and also showed real confidence and quality as he brought the ball out from the back. We needed someone to step up and take the game by the scruff of the neck and he did that.
FABIAN SCHÄR was happy to play his part in a “massive” victory for United against @WatfordFC today.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) November 3, 2018