A point on the road and a strong defensive display, but another ‘winnable’ game that’s gone by without us scoring a goal, with it ending all square at St. Mary’s this afternoon.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance and my marks out of 10.
NUFC XI – (4-4-1-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett – Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy – Perez – Muto
Dubravka – 7.5 – A very assured performance. Made a smart stop early on, was decisive and strong from crosses and tipped a goal-bound header from Stephens too.
Yedlin – 8* – One of our best players today. Defended well up against both Elyounoussi and Bertrand (who was VERY attacking from LB) and his pace and directness caused them a few problems when he got going at the other end. He lacks quality and was wasteful on a few occasions, but he carried us down that right hand side given Ritchie had a real off day.
Lascelles – 7 – Pretty solid. Not always s convincing as he has been at times – with a few shaky clearances or sloppy bits of distribution – but stood strong and dealt with the danger more often than not.
Fernandez – 7.5 – Read the game well and put in a brilliant block to deny Danny Ings in the second half. Wasn’t troubled much and looks a very solid all around centre-back to me.
Dummett – 7 – Kept it simple and put in a solid display. Plenty clearances and covered well. Failed to give Kenedy much support going forward, however, so you can see why we want a more attacking LB in January to compete with him.
Ritchie – 4 – Really poor. Looked tired and never seemed likely to go at his man and beat him – with him failing to even get any meaningful crosses into the box or balls in behind from what I can remember.
Diame – 5 – Broke up the play at times and won plenty in the air, but lacked quality of confidence on the ball. Always looked a little clumsy and clueless when he picked it up in the final third. Made some key blocks, but wanted too much time on the ball. Solid but sluggish.
Shelvey – 7 – Picked out Yedlin a few times with some dangerous cross field passes. Was one of few players in our side who looked assured on the ball and trying to make things happen – although he had VERY little to work with.
Kenedy – 5 – A few too many heavy touches. Worked hard and tried to drive us up the pitch at times but never really got anything going. Never really managed to take his man on, even though he’s more than capable of carrying the ball.
Perez – 4 – Won the odd free-kick but didn’t really get involved in an attacking sense at all. Can’t really remember a thing that came off for him. He’s becoming quite a luxury player, and one who doesn’t even have that spark or final product to justify keeping him in the team.
Muto – 7 – Worked hard, made a nuisance of himself and didn’t shy away from any physical battle, but never looked like scoring in the end which says a lot about our threat as an attacking side in general. I was impressed with him, however. He could be great next to Rondon, with their two styles having the potential to compliment each other perfectly. The question is, will Rafa dare drop Perez?
Rondon – 6 – Showed his presence up top with some strong bits of hold up play, but was living off scraps during the half an hour or so he was on the pitch.
Ki – 5 – Looked like he wanted to pass forward when he got on, which is a positive and something we’re not very good at – although they seemed to find more space through the middle when he came on for Diame. He’s undoubtedly better on the ball than Mo, but clearly worse defensively.
Atsu – 6 – Had a few decent runs that drew free kicks and played a few decent balls into the box. A slight improvement on his recent cameos from the bench.