Newcastle 1 Watford 0 – Saturday 3 November 3pm
We asked Lewis Jones to give us his match ratings after this afternoon’s match.
Newcastle winning 1-0, their first victory since May, a very long six months.
The club now crawling out of the Premier League relegation zone, even if only temporarily.
Dubravka 8 – Instrumental to this win.
Bizarrely, in the end he didn’t actually make many saves, despite the number of chances Watford created. However, much of this was down to Dubravka’s command of the box and sweeping behind his defence. Quick off his line to narrow angles and make it difficult for the opposition.
I don’t think there is any way Newcastle would have won this game with Elliot or Darlow, the Slovakian gives the defence a confidence not seen for many years.
Yedlin 6 – The full-back kind of sums up Newcastle United overall. He has some big strengths but massive weaknesses and we saw both clearly in this game.
You won’t need telling that pace is easily his biggest asset and he prevented a first half one on one by giving the Watford attacker a five yard start but catching him within 20 yards.
Regularly caught out of position and not the greatest defender on the ground and especially in the air. Nevertheless he does give this Newcastle team a lot at times, often looking the biggest threat going forward, in a team that struggles badly to hurt the opposition.
Fernandez 8 – Yet again Newcastle’s best defender and arguably top player overall on the day.
He and Lascelles are quite similar in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, not a lot of pace between them. However, the Argentine is steady as a rock and won everything in the air as well as some crunching tackles. He looks a key player to our chances of survival.
Lascelles 5 – Whether the injury that eventually forced him off was bothering him, I’m not sure. However, not a great first-half as Watford dominated and cut through Newcastle with ease at times.
Dummett 5 – As usual, nothing to contribute going forward.
As for defending, he stuck at it as usual but struggled against the pace of Watford’s wide men, lucky to not get booked as he blocked off/grabbed his opponent as they threatened to get away.
Shelvey 5 – Maybe the injury was bothering him or possibly, it was simply the fact that his passing game is looking increasingly redundant with so little movement and targets to hit in the team. His combination with Diame was at the heart of Newcastle’s run of form earlier this year but equally, they are now failing to win the midfield battles so far this season.
His main weakness is that he isn’t a midfielder who can run with the ball and really comes into his own when having a decent team around him and quality/pacey forwards to pick out. Despite his lack of goals last season, the absence of Gayle has hit Shelvey.
Diame 5 – A yard (or more…) slower this season as compared to his golden run of form post-new year.
The opposition hated him back then as he was in their faces and constantly breaking up play. This season he isn’t getting there in time and when asked to contribute himself with the ball, invariably lost possession yesterday.
Ritchie 6 – Can’t really remember him creating much, if anything.
This was more a day when just his constant workrate means he deserves his place in the team.
Kenedy 6 – Had one effort blocked in the first half but it was his defensive play for once that stood out.
He got back to prevent what looked a certain goalscoring chance at 1-0 up, an intervention that he had no right to make. His critics often question his commitment but that certainly couldn’t be aimed at the Brazilian on this occasion.
Muto 4 – Finding it difficult to get into games and often chooses the wrong option, regularly losing possession.
Not helped by a team that is so static and doesn’t support whoever is in possession. Newcastle yet to find a way to take advantage of his pace.
Rondon 5 – Clearly not match fit but Rafa finding he had no alternative with the likes of Perez and Joselu so poor.
Mobility isn’t his biggest asset anyway and only half fit that is even more apparent. Did ok when allowed to use his strength and some good defensive headers as Newcastle came under pressure.
Any striker isn’t going to find it easy in a Newcastle side that creates so few chances, so even more important that he should have scored to confirm the win, when a cross left the Watford keeper in no man’s land but the on loan striker put his header tamely wide.
Perez 6 – Proved to be the match winner and his overall play was marginally better coming off the bench.
He still embarrasses himself though by constantly falling to the floor theatrically, lying there waiting for a free-kick that rarely comes.
Ki 8 – Did everything that Shelvey and Diame failed to do.
Constantly showing for the ball and had a willingness to keep possession and carry it/work it up the pitch.
We also saw an actual one-two on the edge of the box! I can’t remember the last time a central midfielder even tried one.
Ki swapped passes and went for the return, it could have been a penalty but instead a free-kick which he whipped in and Perez did the rest.
Schar 7 – Has had very limited opportunity and indeed played more minutes for his country this season than for the Magpies.
As outlined above, Lascelles and Fernandez are big assets in this relegation fight but too similar to be a perfect fit.
Schar and Fernandez looked very good together and the Swiss defender clearly improved Newcastle’s options when playing the ball out of defence.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Watford 0
Goal: Perez 65
Possession was Watford 58% Newcastle 42%
Total shots were Watford 16 Newcastle 10
Shots on target were Watford 1 Newcastle 2
Corners were Watford 9 Newcastle 8
Referee: Craig Pawson
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Schar 45), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey (Ki 51), Kenedy, Rondon, Muto (Perez 45+2)
Darlow, Joselu, Manquillo, Atsu
Crowd: 49,157 (Watford approx 1,500)
(Thousands of Newcastle fans didn’t miss much apart from a win! – Read HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Watford 0 – Read HERE)
(Javi Gracia can’t believe how his Watford side didn’t win, never mind get beat – Read HERE)
(Graeme Swann video message for Rafa Benitez after Newcastle win – See HERE)
(Charlie Nicholas dissects Newcastle 1 Watford 0 – Read HERE)
(Rafa Benitez post-match verdict – Read HERE)