Another opening day defeat to Spurs, but plenty positives to take from today’s game.
After watching the full 90 from the Gallowgate, here’s my thoughts on each player’s performance and my marks out of 10.
NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy – Joselu.
Dubravka– 6 – Almost pulled off a miraculous save to stop their first goal which was millimetres over the line, but could do nothing about Alli’s header. Over hit quite a few passes out of defence, although it is good to see how calm and confident he is on the ball – albeit a bit risky at times.
Yedlin – 5 – Was caught out for their second, with left Alli unmarked at the back post. His pace and energy in support of Ritchie is effective, but he has a tendency to switch off positionally or struggle with diagonal balls over his head.
Lascelles – 6 – Dealt with Kane pretty well and put in some important blocks and clearances. Not his best game, with us not looking quite the same without Lejeune, but didn’t let us down.
Clark – 6 – Put in a superb block early on to deny Lucas’ goal-bound shot. He’s no Lejeune and doesn’t offer nearly the same quality or composure on the ball but he can, but he didn’t do badly at all. Think Fernandez or Schar will replace him in the long run, mind.
Dummett – 6 – Switched off for a split second to allow Vertonghen to drift in behind him for their goal. Other than that he was solid enough. Struggled to get forward, leaving Kenedy a little isolated at times, but does a job at the back. Was more solid than he was been over pre-season.
Diame – 5.5 – Lost the ball in dangerous areas on a few too many occasions in the first half and looked rusty. Was still effective in the way he won the ball back and battled in midfield, but it was a rare off day given how well he’s performed in 2018 so far. Smashed the post in the second half.
Shelvey – 6 – Pretty tidy on the ball and showed his class from time to time, but didn’t really have the space to get into the game as much as he would’ve liked.
Ritchie – 7.5 – A bundle of energy, covered well defensively and put in an absolutely inch perfect ball into Joselu for our goal. He could not miss – and that’s saying something! Looked back to his best and was rightfully frustrated to have been taken off.
Perez – 6 – He was a 7/10 in the first half – linking well and causing problems between midfield and attack – but he was a 5/10 in the second, running out of steam and struggling to make any impact on the game. He’s got talent, but he needs to take the game by the scruff of the neck more as a number 10.
Kenedy – 8 – Was brilliant and my man of the match. Final product sometimes let him down, but he was the one player who was constantly driving us forward all game. Looked strong, skilful and full of energy and invention. Missed a big chance to make it 2-2 but barely fault him today. Top talent and someone we’re lucky to have back for another season.
Joselu – 7 – He’s tended to offer so little in a black and white shirt, but this was one of his best performances. He got himself a goal, he put himself about, linked up quite well at times in the first half and very nearly got a superb assist in the second with a brilliant ball in behind for Kenedy. A few loose touches here and there but much, much better from him.
Rondon – 6 – Looks a handful, although you could tell he was holding himself back a little and not yet fully match fit. Hit the bar with a deflected shot and gave us a big target to hit up top.
Atsu – 3 – Offered absolutely nothing unfortunately. Very sloppy on the ball. Looked lethargic and half asleep.
Muto – N/A – Can’t give a rating on 10 minutes but his movement was very good. Looked lively and didn’t hide.