Yesterday finished Bournemouth 2 Newcastle 2.
Rafa’s team two up at half-time and then collecting only one point by the time the final whistle blew.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.
It would be easy to go on about the miles covered and travel problems for our longest away game but I’m guessing you want to hear about what actually happened during the 90 minutes.
After the opening 10 minutes or so when it was pretty even, Newcastle got on top and were pretty much in total control until the last 15 or so minutes.
If you didn’t see the game right through, you might look at the stats and think that with almost two-thirds of possession, Bournemouth had the better of the game. However, that wasn’t the case and the home side had the ball in safe positions and could do little with it, as Newcastle’s defence and midfield coped with anything they had.
I have been to pretty much every away match and I think this was by far the best one so far in terms of controlling most of a match, when Newcastle did go forward then they looked capable of scoring/creating every time. Only the last 15 minutes when the Cherries had to have a go, did Newcastle get pressed back and looked second best.
I actually didn’t think he played much/any better than he has been playing recently. However, that doesn’t mean I think he played poorly.
I don’t think he has been great this season but at the same time I think it has been way over the top the criticism he has attracted. Yes he has missed chances but he is luck if he gets more than one or two half-decent ones per match.
The big factor yesterday was luck. As usual, Gayle had some decent build-up play but instead of events transpiring against him (at least a couple of his goals this season have been wrongly disallowed), this time Begovic had a bit of a nightmare and the Newcastle number nine was alert to finish twice.
The Islam Slimani ongoing injury made team selection a bit more straightforward. Rafa sticking with the same 11 who came out on top of Man Utd, both in the play and result.
The midfield and defence would be the pick of most Newcastle fans out of what we have got, so just then a case of who to leave out for Slimani, when/if he is ever fit.
He did get an assist for Gayle’s second goal but apart from that rare occurrence, you are left wondering what he adds to the team?
Surely it will be a Gayle/Slimani partnership once both fit to play. Especially when Newcastle play a counter-attacking style, Perez is so painfully slow, he is a liability in that number 10 role.
Frank Lampard went a little over the top about the midfielder on Match of The Day last night about his lack of defensive input late on as the two goals went in our net – but he was right up to a point. If like Gayle, Shelvey had been subbed (which he probably should have been, as not the ideal player when you are defending a lead) before the late Bournemouth pressure, then you would have said he’d had a very good/good game. Yes he missed a sitter but he was involved in most of the good stuff, as well as tracking back well, just as he did against Man Utd.
However, as Lampard pointed out, Shelvey failed to track runners on both goals and ended up looking back and watching as Bournemouth scored twice.
As mentioned above, I think when the pressure comes on the defence and when he has ran plenty, Shelvey isn’t the greatest defender when protecting a lead.
Rafa took off a striker (Gayle) and two wingers (Ritchie and Kenedy), replacing them with a winger (Atsu), defensive midfielder (Hayden) and full-back (Manquillo). I think it was too negative and personally, would rather keep say Ritchie on than Shelvey due to the pace/workrate, I also think Merino is a good cool head in a situation like yesterday – especially when it comes to keeping possession when under pressure.