A big win for Steve Bruce at St James’ Park and much improved performance, with Saint-Maximin and Wilson making the headlines in game that also saw Joelinton and Krafth give us real food for thought.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with my mark out of 10:
Darlow – 8 – Did very little wrong and had no chance with their goal. Some good saves; he got a really strong hand to Chris Wood’s powerful header in the second half and did well to tip Dwight McNeill’s dangerous cross away from danger in the first half. Aside from the odd cross he could only flap at, his collections were brave and commanding. Great to see him continue his excellent start to the season in Dubravka’s absence!
Krafth – 8.5 – His best game for Newcastle. Kept Burnley’s star man Dwight McNeil quiet, made a few vital interceptions – including one last ditch intervention that denied Chris Wood a clear shot at goal – and showed an impressive engine to constantly get up and down the pitch. He then slotted in at centre half after Schar was forced off, and stood up to the task very well against their two big strikers. I was surprised to see him start over the usually reliable Manquillo, but Bruce’s decision was justified based on what we saw here!
Schar – 7.5 – Really unfortunate to be forced off after falling heavily on the shoulder he injured . Despite it being his first start of the season, he didn’t look at all out of sorts and it was a vast improvement on some of his recent performances. He isn’t known for his physicality but he did well in a testing affair and his passing was as good as ever. Hopefully his shoulder injury isn’t too bad.
Fernandez – 8 – A really strong performance. I’m convinced that he would literally run into a brick wall for this team! Burnley’s forwards are so physical but the Argentinian won the majority of his aerial fuels and forced them to feed off of scraps all night.
Lewis – 6 – Once again it was a somewhat cagey performance from the young full back. He didn’t necessarily make any serious errors but he sometimes looked tentative in possession and had the odd careless moment. However, it’s not a cause for concern at the moment as he’s still just settling in.
Hendrick – 7 – Showed his limitations on the ball, getting one big chance caught under his feet and sometimes playing it too safe in possession, however his work rate and ability to keep on running was phenomenal against his former club. He isn’t a natural right winger and shouldn’t hold onto that role when Fraser is fully fit, however he covered so much ground and filled in cleverly for Shelvey late on when he was starting to tire.
Hayden – 7.5 – A combative and high energy display from our midfield spoiler. Burnley are a physically brutal side but he matched them in that department, breaking up the play and winning most of his 50/50’s. Nothing outstanding, but he joined the press, made a few decent forward runs as Shelvey sat deep and won plenty in the air too.
Shelvey – 7.5 – A lot better tonight, both in attitude and performance. Generally looked to keep the ball on the deck instead of trying ambitious passes constantly – and when he did go long he cut open Burnely’s defence with a few cutting passes in behind for Wilson and one dangerous cross he headed wide. Tired late on, meaning Hendrick had to do some of his leg-work, but it was a far more mature performance from the stand-in skipper after an awful game in midweek.
Saint-Maximin – 9.5* – One word; unplayable. An absolute nightmare for Burnley, who could only kick his ankles or pull him back in a bid to stop him! How can anyone question his final ball after that performance? His goal was a moment of magic and the assist was just as good – giving Wilson so little to do as he burst past his man and picked him out with an inch-perfect cross. If that Saint-Maximin can stay fit and turn up every week, we’ve got a scarily good talent on our hands!
Joelinton – 8 – Looked so much better in that role behind the striker and worked so hard tonight. Held the ball up well, brought others into play, created chances and rarely gave away possession. Really nice to see him looking more comfortable and confident. Hopefully he can build on a string of much improved displays with a few goals and assists after the international break!
Wilson – 9.5 – I’m starting to believe that we’ve found our first ‘proper’ striker since Demba Ba. Pressed tirelessly and was a real physical threat to the Burnley defence – even winning the flick on in the build up for the Saint-Maximin opener. Was in the right position to tap the ball in for his first and looks so comfortable from 12 yards when scoring his second. I really couldn’t have asked anymore of him tonight.
Manquillo – 7– Would’ve been frustrated at losing his place in the starting eleven to Krafth, but did himself no harm with a lively display down the right-hand side after he replaced Schar early in the second 45. Got up and down the line well and gave us a bit more of an outlet going forward.
Fraser – 7 – Helped his cause for a first start in the Premier League. Confidence clearly isn’t an issue as he came close to chipping Pope from 40 yards out, with the former Bournemouth star also putting his energy to great use to win us the penalty that helped ease any late nerves and make it 3-1. He’s only going to get better after a long spell out of action.
Sean Longstaff – N/A – Came on too late to earn a proper rating, but did go close with one decent effort on the edge of the box.