Another frustrating day for Newcastle United, with defensive errors and an awful second half display costing dearly against a relegation threatened Watford side.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with my mark out of 10:
Dubravka – 5 – Claimed the odd high ball comfortably early but was almost beaten by a Welbeck shot that was going in via the post if Lascelles hadn’t cleared his lines. Deeney’s two penalties were well hit, but both were down the middle, in his reach and predictable based on the striker’s record from the spot.
Manquillo – 4 – Was one of the biggest victims of our second half collapse. Did OK in the first 45, defending well enough and supporting ASM well, but he was booked for a cynical foul and had a moment of pure madness in pulling down Sarr after finding himself on the wrong side of the Watford winger. A costly mistake and rare error from a man who’s generally been Mr.reliable this season.
Lascelles – 7 – By far our best defender today, but was badly let down by those around him in the second half. Batted away a few awkward balls into the box with strong clearing headers early on, made a few key blocks and dealt with Deeney’s power well in open play. Also got himself in the right place at the right time to clear a Welbeck shot off the line 15 minutes in and played a few nice passes into the final third up to Gayle. Got booked early on for a cynical and clumsy trip on Doucoure and limped off late on. We collapsed in the second half, but he’s one of few who can come away from this one with some credit.
Fernandez – 5 – Played a big part in our opening goal, glancing a brilliant header to the back post for Gayle to tap in. That said, a decent first half showing was followed with a shaky second 45. He was beaten easily by Femenia in the build up to their first penalty and gifted Deeney with a huge chance soon after their equaliser, with him wanting too much time on the ball and playing an awful pass on the edge of the box straight to the striker. Set up Gayle’s goal well, but another rare off day for him after his shocker at Man City.
Rose – 4 – Was caught out of position in the build up to their equaliser, allowing Femenia a free run into the box. Unconvincing against Ismaila Sarr at times and slow to react to one loose ball that almost let the Senegalese star get in on goal in the first half. Got a few rollockings from Lascelles as a result in what was a slow and sluggish display from the Spurs loanee. Also worth noting he never looks quick enough (or fit enough?) to join attacks, unlike ex-loan star Jetro Willems who got up and down the line brilliantly.
Schar – 4 – Played in a midfield role alongside Shelvey today, which was a surprise given how uninterested he looked in midweek. Did OK to start with during the period where we were on top, but it quickly went downhill from there. The odd nice pass, which you expect from a player with his ability, but often looked stuck in the mud as Watford burst past him with ease, picked up a cynical yellow and looked like he was on the beach in a patheitc second half showing.
Shelvey – 4 – Whipped in a few dangerous set piece deliveries in the first half but that was about it. Well and truly lost the midfield battle in the second half, was caught in possession a few too many times and let the game pass him by in the end. Poor.
Saint-Maximin – 7 – It wasn’t always vintage ASM, yet still a reminder of how toothless we’d look without him in the side. Flashed in wicked cross three minutes in and immediately gave us moments of that X-factor we badly lack without him. Burst through on goal on the half hour mark and almost nudged an outside of the foot finish into the far corner, only for Foster to narrow the angle and make a vital block. Struggled to get going in the second half but at least tried to make things happen whenever he got on the ball.
Almiron – 6 – Noticeably more assured and confident on the ball at times in the first half, with him no longer hesitant or looking over his shoulder and instead bursting into space when he got a chance to run at a shaky Watford defence. Had a well hit half-volley saved by Foster early on but huffed and puffed in the second half to no avail.
Ritchie – 5 – A game of two halves for him. Never looked like he’d beat a man in the first half, but tried to make up for that by releasing the ball quickly, whether that be via a fizzed ball in the box or quick cut back. It was then his clumsy clash with Femenia that gave Watford a route back into it in the second half, however. He never recovered from that point onwards and needs to offer more than just enthusiasm if he’s going to reignite his career as a winger at this level.
Gayle – 7 – Was a fox in the box to hand us an early lead, with him bagging his third goal since football returned after gambling expertly on a Fernandez flick on. Nearly bagged an assist moments later too, glancing a lovely ball around the corner to put ASM clean through. Flashed one half chance over the bar before Watford’s equaliser and had a decent low strike saved by Foster soon after. Starved of good service in the end but another goal and very nearly a brilliant assist for ASM too.
Joelinton – 5 – Had one nice moment where he played a give and go, held the ball up well and almost put Gayle in behind, only for this threaded pass to be just overhit. That aside, he didn’t really get into the game enough in a second half Watford dominated.
Bentaleb – N/A – Dropped after his horror show on Wednesday and struggled to get into the game in the final 15 minutes. A few decent interceptions but rarely got himself on the ball.
Krafth – N/A – Did OK at right-back in the final stages after missing out of the starting XI with a knock.
Lazaro – N/A – The fact he didn’t start and was restricted to another 10 minute cameo tells me he won’t be signing permanently this summer, no matter how bright he’s looked in flashes. Bruce brought him on too late for me.