He’s not the answer at right-back and there’ll be no tears being shed on Tyneside if he departs this summer, but I think Javier Manquillo deserves some rare praise.
The Spaniard has often looked out of his depth at this level ever since Rafa signed the former Liverpool flop following our return to the top flight, however he’s actually filled in pretty well in recent weeks.
Not only did he put in a solid performance in the 1-0 win at Leicester last week, dealing with the threat of Chilwell and Barnes impressively, he’s been part of two clean sheets and two wins in his last three starts – with him being one of the better players in a bad bunch in defeat at West Ham.
Here’s my comments and marks out of 10 from my ‘player ratings’ pieces across the last three games he’s started, with two 7’s highlighting the surprisingly solid job he’s done of late:
Rating from Newcastle 2-0 Burnley
Manquillo – 7 – ‘He’s had his critics and rightly so at times, but he did a good job at right wing-back, making several well timed tackles, carrying the ball well and linking up with Perez nicely. His pace limits him, with there being a few occasions where we could’ve been away down the right if Yedlin has got into his positions, but he was effective on the ball and stood up to the task well against a physical Burnley side.’
Rating from West Ham 2-0 Newcastle
Manquillo – 6 – ‘I feared for him when I saw he would be up against Anderson, but he stood up to the test pretty well, making a few clean tackles early on and a few good runs to give us an outlet out wide at the other end. Nothing to write home about, but one of the better players in a bad bunch today for me.’
Rating from Leicester 0-1 Newcastle
Manquillo – 7.5 – ‘Did a very solid job to limit both Barnes and Chilwell down Leicester’s left. Could’ve cost us late on with a risky pull at Tielemans, but stood up to the test well, making several well timed interventions to cut out the danger quickly. A solid and committed performance.’
Nor he or Yedlin are the answer at right-back moving forward – they have their limitations at both ends of the pitch and have a tendency to switch off- but Manquillo will be pushing for another start ahead of Saturday’s home game against Southampton, and rightly so.
On the subject of Southampton, the bookies are struggling to split the two sides ahead of Saturday’s game – and it’s easy to see why with our recent rise to form at St James’ Park and the Saints’ impressive surge to safety in mind.
That said, I fancy us to win this one after last Friday’s big win, and with promotions at kiwicasinos, it may be worth a pre-match flutter.
Either way, I expect Manquillo to retain his place in the side and fancy Miguel Almiron to get off the mark for the first time since his £16m move from Atlanta, with Saturday’s side likely to look something like this:
(3-4-2-1): Dubravka – Schar, Lascelles, Dummett – Manquillo, Ki, Hayden, Ritchie – Perez, Almiron – Rondon.
As for predicted goal scorers, it wouldn’t take someone with luck at casino UK online to work out that Salomon Rondon is a good bet to get on the scoresheet, with the Venezuelan almost scoring a third of our 32 league goals this season.