“Football is a funny old game,” a once prolific scorer for Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and England is credited as having said first. There’s no doubting that it very much is in these strange unprecedented times that’s for sure.
It must also be funny for the players. One minute they’re in, the next their out and never do they seem to shake it all about! After one game we could be calling them to be called up for the National side, the next we could be saying they should be sold as soon as possible.
Okay perhaps that’s a bit harsh or even stretching feelings a little two far but I think when considering my thoughts you’ll get the gist of it when I sum up who I thought came out of the game with credit and who definitely need a “must improve” marking against them.
I’ll start with the Loser’s so I can end on a positive. Oh, and if I don’t mention someone it’s probably because they were neither a winner nor loser in my humble opinion.
1. Jamaal Lascelles
Captain Fantastic most of the season. Very underrated some may claim and probably the first name on Steve Bruce’s team-sheet when he writes it out. But he’s had better days than against WHU. Definitely at fault for the first goal and could even have a claim that he lost Souchek for the second. Not going to deal with him too harshly to be honest as I think in most cases, he’s been particularly good and is an extremely good captain but he definitely owes us one after yesterday.
2. Valentino Lazaro
Must have been very frustrated not to have started. With Bruce saying he needed to freshen things up and after his cameo against Bournemouth he must have felt his time had come. But, it hadn’t and when he did come on it seemed as though we’d run out of steam and he wasn’t able to stoke the fires back up. If his performance from the bench v Bournemouth gained him a plus point, his performance on Sunday probably lost him it and he seems back to square one in the should we buy or not scenario.
3. Isaac Hayden
Not because of his performance as once again he was good whilst on. Putting himself about as usual, breaking up play and doing what he does best but it seems ping went the hamstring and he jury and he could miss rest of season which would be a real shame after the way he’s been playing.
4. Andy Carroll
Now this might be a controversial one but I felt not only didn’t he get into the game against former club he never looked like doing it. I’m a bit torn about Carroll. I expect more from him and keep expecting him to explode in to action and produce results. But time and time again it’s just not happening for him. Is it because he’s not given enough time? Is it because he’s not adapted to the new style? Not sure but whatever it is I think we need a lot more from him than we’re seeing.
5. Javier Manquillo
Having seen off the challenge of Yedlin for first choice right-back in the “four” and earning himself a new contract, the last two games have seen him at left-back! Against Bournemouth he was reasonable but I felt he really struggled against ex-Toon target Jarrod Bowen all game. Let’s hope it was a rare off game as he’s usually very reliable.
So, who were the winners?
1. Emil Krafth
The man from nowhere to really challenging Manquillo for a spot in the starting XI. He came in against Bournemouth much to everyone’s surprise and after a shaky start settled in well and put in a decent shift. He took that to the next level with a really solid performance at both ends and an excellent assist for Miggy’s goal. He certainly looks a lot more comfortable at right-back than he ever did at wing-back and showed perhaps why we bought him.
2. Jonjo Shelvey
Very, very impressive and for me the best player on the pitch. Just a shame he’s not called Jonjo RICE as he may even have a look-in for England! See’s a pass so much more than anyone else and yes, sometimes it doesn’t come off but he’s never deterred from trying another one. Another goal too and again a part of his game I really like. Always looking forward and always looking to push the opposition back. Just seems to be getting more influential by the week and with those around him it seems to give him a freer licence at the moment.
3. Miguel Almiron
Another goal, getting into the box much more, a really good all-round game where he never let WHU settle and always looked dangerous. Superb energy as well given the number of minutes he’s played recently. Plus, have you ever seen a player that smiles as much and just seems to love playing football? Definitely another step forward for the smiling assassin!
4. Nabil Bentaleb
£8.5m? If the takeover’s not going through then he must be nailed on for me. Came on and did what he does very well. Slick, smooth, neat and tidy. He kept the ball moving and his style certainly benefits Jonjo and allows others to play. Not a big tackler like Hayden but works hard and is always available. With Hayden possibly out for the season he’s likely going to slot in and keep the team ticking over. A week ago, he might have been third of the three loanees in signing order. He may well have moved up a notch or two.
5. Dwight Gayle
The epitome of “what a difference a week makes!” I daresay there was some that might not have picked him again after that miss against City but a week later and he’s scored and created in the two games he’s started since. He looked sharp. His movement was good and even at times his hold-up play was effective. Definitely looks a threat when compared with our other “strikers” and there’s no doubt he has a good chemistry with Jonjo.
So, there you have it. My thoughts and opinions only and just those I wanted to pick out.
You may not agree and in fact I may not want you too. Football’s a funny old game and one that definitely splits opinions.