Yet another abject display from a Newcastle United side who defended like amateurs, lost the midfield battle and looked blunt in attack in a painful yet entirely predictable 2-0 win for Aston Villa.
Here’s some comments on each player’s performance along with marks out of 10:
Darlow – 4 – Didn’t make himself anywhere near big enough when Watkins headed home early on, making it far too easy for the striker to score. Did well to punch clear one corner just before the break, but was beaten seconds later by a brilliant finish from Traore. Made one decent save to keep it at 2-0 in the second half but has to be questioned for his bizarre role in their opener.
Manquillo – 4 – Looked off the pace on his first game since that 0-2 win at Palace back in November. Crossing was poor before he whipped in one good ball that Carroll headed wide and struggled to get anywhere near Grealish and Targett. An outlet at times but very little came of his forays forward, with him take off on the 70-minute mark.
Hayden – 5 – Well below his best, but at least threw himself into a few tackles and never gave up. Did concede a cheap free kick and from that was beaten easily in the air by Barkley, but didn’t disgrace himself in two positions out of his comfort zone (CB and RB).
Lascelles (c) – 4 – Looks a shadow of the man who organised and inspired our defence under Benitez, cutting a frustrated figure and looking visibly fatigued late on – heavy breathing makes me wonder if he’s still feeling the effects of COVID? Headed a few crosses clear and had one at the other end heading in at the other end before Mings got in the way of it from a Shelvey corner, but he rarely got close to Watkins all night.
Schar – 2 – Made a complete mess of their opening goal, with his sliced clearance allowing Watkins to head home. The odd eye-catching pass, but he was generally very cheap on the ball, with a few too many slack punts forward that gifted possession straight back to Villa. Got booked early on for a clumsy foul and looked like a half-hearted liability throughout.
Lewis – 2 – Sloppy and hesitant on the ball, with him appearing to be so one-footed and incapable of using his right. Defensively he was also suspect and slow to react, with him being VERY fortunate to get away with one scuffed ‘clearance’ that fell to a Villa player in the six-yard box! He tried to get forward and didn’t give up, but he looks like a young players absolutely shot for confidence.
Hendrick – 2 – He makes Jack Colback look dynamic. Anonymous once again, constantly picking the safe pass or chasing shadows in a midfield ‘battle’ he didn’t get close to winning. Looks such a limited footballer. Really struggling to see what on earth he does.
Shelvey – 3 – Tried to press early in the opening exchanges but it seemed like that took up all of his energy after 10 minutes, with him allowing Targett far too much time to cross for Watkins’ early goal. This theme continued, with him lethargic throughout and constantly bypassed by Villa runners. Had more touches than most and the odd cross-field pass, but what does that mean when he constantly looked so laboured and disinterested.
Almiron – 6* – Started the game with a tame shot he should’ve done better with, but he was the one Newcastle player who always showed a sense of urgency and energy at both ends – whether that be him nipping in to intercept, helping out Lewis defensively or carrying the ball forward. Sometimes a case of all action, no end product, but he did put one good cross in for Carroll and slipped a clever pass into Fraser late on. Our best outfield player for the second game running….not that this is saying much!
Wilson – 4 – Gave Konsa and Mings a physical battle, but he didn’t win either of those and was the victim of a total lack of service or support once again. Failed to muster a single shot on goal all night and looked unusually sloppy in some of his link up play.
Carroll – 4 – Another who didn’t get enough good balls into the box, however his lack of mobility makes him seem such a limited striker these days. A few too many clumsy fouls and got his header all wrong the one time he did connect with a decent cross by Manquillo.
Saint-Maximin – 5 – A tame return to action for the Frenchman. Picked his head up and played the odd decent ball infield, but the game was all but gone when he came on.
Fraser – 5 – Came on for the final 20 minutes and at least got one shot away and made a few purposeful runs, giving Almiron someone to find during one counter-attack cut out by the impressive Konsa.
Gayle – N/A – Barely remember him getting a touch during his 10-minute cameo at Villa Park. Must be wondering how he’s not got a start when we haven’t won a game since his last goal vs West Brom almost six weeks ago!