Saturday’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace was a funny one. It wasn’t pretty, but it gave us all three points and that’s all that matters.
After looking back at the game in a bit more detail, I’ve looked at four things I took from the stands at St James’ on Saturday:
Winning when we don’t play well is a positive sign
Win when you don’t play well and you’re onto something they say – and we certainly did that here!
It was a very dull game and pretty dour performance, but one thing we’ll never lack this season is fight and grit – and we showed both those tings once again on to win on Saturday.
We hung in, didn’t let our heads drop when previous Newcastle United teams would have, and took our chance when it eventually arrived in the 86th minute.
It wasn’t pretty, but perhaps that makes it all the more precious.
Lascelles looks in great shape
Palace didn’t throw a great deal at us, but almost everything they did was mopped up by Lascelles.
He was a man mountain at the back and looked as sharp on the ground as he did dominant in the air. He won some key headers and also showed his pace and athleticism to get across to Wilfried Zaha at one point, emphatically cutting out out what could have been a very dangerous counter attack.
He might have stopped heading in winners, but he’s looking better and better defensively. I imagine the on-looking Gareth Southgate was impressed.
Perez and Joselu not offering enough offensively
Now for a few negatives. I don’t like to criticise Joselu and Perez, as the front two do put a shift in for us up top, however they really must up their game in the offensive third to help us carry much more of a threat.
The pair really struggled to get into the game on Saturday and were often very wasteful or lacklustre when they did get on the ball.
Joselu struggled to hold up the ball or win headers against Sakho in the air and Perez so often failed to even get the ball under control – never mind get his head up and look to do something with it.
They are clearly confidence players and I’ll continue to support them as long as they keep up their effort levels, but we really do need to see more from them going forward.
What’s concerning is Perez looked to have no confidence despite his goal against Southampton and Joselu’s performances have only gone backwards in the last two since his all important goal against Liverpool.
An off day for Jonjo Shelvey
The one thing I love about Shelvey is he’ll rarely hide in a game. He wants to get on the ball and try things, however with that, it can all look very wayward if he’s having an off day. And he did on Saturday for me.
Given how many he attempts per game, there were some nice passes from him – slipping Atsu in during the first half and finding Yedlin well down the right on occasion – but all too often his passes were going astray. He also made a few too many needless fouls in dangerous areas of the pitch.
Nothing too concerning, but hopefully he can find some consistency. He can be a big player for us and I know he can be so much better than what we saw on Saturday.
Three points are all that REALLY mattered, but these were just a few observations from myself in the stands.
Let us know your thoughts as ever!
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About Olly Hawkins
Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.