Another positive from the weekend was to finally see Slimani in a Newcastle shirt, two months after signing for us. He was given a short 15 spell and replaced Gayle, who missed two golden chances, but there were promising signs from the powerful Algerian.
Here’s a few things I took from his quietly impressive 15-minute cameo as I watched on from the East Stand:
A physical presence and quicker than I thought
He was renowned at Sporting and Leicester of course for his physical presence and size and he muscled players of the ball a few times. He offers a totally different option to the more agile Gayle and let’s hope more cutting edge than Joselu. He looked quicker than I thought and is certainly no slouch either. If we can play to his strengths we could have a player on our hands.
Came short and got in behind
What I also liked was that he was willing to come short as well for the ball; he didn’t look like just a one dimensional physical target man. We had a good break which he started and was quick to support the move after starting it as well. That is the type of movement he will need to show if he is to get on the end on those long through balls from Shelvey, for example, which is a key play of ours.
He looked eager to impress and was constantly looking to get on the ball. Two positive signs as he looks to make a late impact at NUFC in the hope of winning a potential permanent deal.
His clear strength is his power in the air and even though he didn’t connect, his presence helped get us the winner as he was ready at the back post to pounce. His presence likely pushed the keeper into making the error which allowed Kenedy to slide the all for Perez to tap in from close range. He has real aerial prowess we have to exploit if we are to get the best out of him.
It is a shame he is unable to play against parent club Leicester in our next game, but his game should match up well for the next game against Arsenal, who struggle with aerial threats in their own box.
It would be good to see him get a run of 3 or 4 starts before the end of the season so we can assess clearly if he a clear upgrade on what we already have, or we need to look elsewhere for our main striker in the summer.
What did you make of his cameo off the bench against Huddersfield?