A 3-1 defeat isn’t often something you can draw many positives from, but I for one was quite pleased with what I saw – and there’s three players in particular who I feel deserve credit. Isaac Hayden, Paul Dummett and Jacob Murphy.
There were plenty other solid displays, but I wanted to single these three out for praise – especially when they are players who’ve often been criticised so far this season.
There’s not many full-back’s who’ve kept Raheem Sterling quiet this season, but Paul Dummett did a very good job of doing just that – despite them having a staggering 81% of the ball.
He stuck to his task superbly well all game and put in several brilliantly timed blocks an goal saving challenges. He’s often been criticise for his limitations going forward, but there’s little denying that we look better defensively with him at left-back.
He needs competition to push him on, but he has come on leaps and bounds under Benitez and Saturday’s display was further proof of that.
He endured a tough start to life on Tyneside but he’s kept going, put in some really promising performances since then and bagged the goal his displays have deserved on Saturday.
He took it superbly and went from strength to strength in the game after it. He’s one of few players in our side who actually runs at the opposition and has a go. It’s something we’ve lacked all season so it’s great to see from the summer signing.
Hopefully he can take confidence from this and kick on, but one thing’s for sure. Rafa surely has to start him at home to Burnley in our next league game?!
He’s rarely impressed me at central midfield this season and I vividly remember wondering just what he contributed to the team in recent home games, however I thought he did brilliantly at centre-back on Saturday.
He read the play very well with some timely interceptions, including one goal saving challenge to cut out a dangerous ball across the goal mouth in the second half.
Rafa will still see him as a centre-mid, but he proved that he can do a job at the back in some very difficult circumstances. Fair play to him.