It was far from a classic, but what a precious three points that is. Another big result from Benitez and the boys today in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Here’s my thoughts and marks out of 10 for the starting 11 today:
Elliot – 6 – Palace didn’t have a shot on target so a tough one to rate! Good to see him pass out from the back more often, but he does need to work on his kicking.
Yedlin – 6.5 – Struggled with Zaha’s trickery at times, however he’s a real competitor and great athlete and didn’t make it easy for him. Sloppy on the ball and struggled to link up with Ritchie, but a decent shift nonetheless.
Lascelles – 8* – Palace didn’t throw a great deal at us today, but everything they did was mopped up superbly by Lascelles. A man mountain who looked as sharp on the ground as he did dominant in the air. Man of the match for me.
Lejeune – 7 – Aside from being done by Townsend on one occasion and cynically bringing him down, he barely put a foot wrong defensively. Looks to have a superb right foot on him, with some arrowed cross-field passes, however might want to reign those in a little when they don’t look on.
Manquillo – 6.5 – Had mixed success in dealing with Andros Townsend down their right, but there can’t be too many complaints with his display. Tried to make things happen with the odd burst down the left hand side.
Hayden – 5 – He gets stuck in, is a decent athlete and is good in the air, but I was surprised to see him start in a game where we were expected to go at a struggling Palace. Didn’t get on the ball enough or have any real impact on the game.
Shelvey – 5 – Bad day at the office for Jonjo. He often had so little on, but so many of his passes were wayward and wasteful. A few needless tackles too which gave them free kicks in dangerous areas. Looked more comfortable when Merino came on, but so erratic. Needs to be much much better.
Ritchie – 6 – A rare quiet game from Ritchie. Didn’t really get into the game, with Schlupp and Van Aanholt doing a good job doubling up on him. As you can imagine, he was tearing about to protect our lead at 1-0 however. I love him even on his off days.
Perez – 3 – Sounds very harsh, but he really was that bad. Couldn’t control the ball, lost it cheaply on so many occasions and didn’t impose himself on the game in any way, shape or form. I hoped he’d take confidence from his goal last weekend but he really was shocking. He might work hard, but he’s got to start showing so much more on the ball and in attacking areas.
No successful dribbles
No successful crosses
6/8 passes (2 forward)
Most dispossessed (3)
1 tackle #nufc
— NUFC Index (@NUFC_Index) October 21, 2017
Atsu – 6.5 – Had the beating of Palace right-back Joel Ward and was our only real attacking outlet in the first half, but we didn’t get the ball out to him enough. Went closest for us with a decent first half shot, however did fizzle out the game as it went on.
Joselu – 4 – After his goal against Liverpool he really hasn’t kicked on as I’d hoped he might. He did win the odd vital header when defending corners, but he was pretty anonymous at the other end of the pitch, struggling to hold the ball up or win headers against Sakho and Dann.
Merino – 7.5 (on for Hayden) – The odd sloppy pass, which is unlike him, but he helped us up the tempo when he came on and grabbed the all important winner – his first goal as a Newcastle United player!
Diame – 7 (on for Perez) – He’s taken criticism over his time at NUFC, but he came on and made a real difference. Imposed himself on the game far more than Perez did all afternoon and had a few nice touches to link up the play. Saw a curling shot saved by Speroni late on.
Mitrovic – 6 (on for Joselu) – Wasn’t really on long enough for me to give him a proper rating, but his entrance to the field certainly gave the crowd a lift. In fairness, he didn’t do badly either. Linked the play nicely with Diame on the odd occasion and won some flick ons. Could push for a start next time out after Joselu’s poor display.
Man of the match: Jamaal Lascelles