3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 2 Huddersfield 0
Saturday finished Newcastle 2 Huddersfield 0.
Rafa’s players making it three Premier League victories in a row at St James Park.
NUFC following up the wins over Cardiff and Manchester City.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.Here goes…
For the last time… Sean Longstaff
This is the last time I will include Sean Longstaff in a list of positives because it is probably condescending now considering that he can class himself as an established member of the first team squad. He put in another brilliant performance on Saturday, and alongside Issac Hayden, the two of them dominated another game.
Longstaff provides so much time and composure in the middle of the park, keeping things ticking along. His first thought is always ‘can I make a forward pass’ and rarely, if ever, do you see him trying to complicate things. He nearly scored a great goal from 25 yards and should have provided one of the assists of the season if Rondon hadn’t have missed a gilt-edged diving header.
I think what Longstaff really needs now is a long stretch in the first team until the end of the season. Even if his performances dip over the next few games, I think Rafa should keep him in the side with the intention of Longstaff being one of the two midfielders who starts the first game of next season.
Miguel Almiron AND Ayoze Perez
As far as home debuts go, this was a really positive one from Almiron.
His pace and enthusiasm on and off the ball was a breathe of fresh air. He should have opened his account after ten minutes but I don’t think there is another player in the squad who would have shown the intelligence to make the run and have the pace to get on to the end of it to be in that position. For the rest of the game Almiron was still creative, setting up chances for others and having a few more at goal himself.
Typical of some NUFC fans though, and the local media, the reaction to his full debut has been over the top. With people saying it was one of the best debuts from an NUFC player, along with making comparisons to Sissoko’s debut six years ago (as if you can compare Almiron’s debut to Moussa Sissoko ripping Chelsea and Ashley Cole apart). The point being that nobody benefits from a typical OTT reaction.
Another positive from Almiron’s debut is that he appears to offer far more to the side than Christian Atsu, which could mean that he gets the most out of Ayoze Perez who had a good game on Saturday.
A good performance
Again I will come on to the OTT reaction in the negatives but it was pleasing to see Newcastle playing really well. This wasn’t a scruffy one nil win. We played some good football and every time we went forward we looked like we could score a goal.
Also, it is important to note that even before the red card, Newcastle could have been two or three up against Huddersfield’s 11 men on the pitch. A game that we fully controlled and never looked like losing.
How does Paul Dummett get back in the team?
I have been a big fan of Paul Dummett this season and last season but at the moment I fail to see a way for him to get back in the first team picture.
At left wing-back Matt Ritchie has done a brilliant job, and even after him, you could argue that Kenedy may be better suited to the position than Dummett. At centre half too, there are probably five centre backs there ahead of him. So it is a strange situation.
If we were playing four at the back the I am sure Dummett would be one of the first names on the team sheet, but with Rafa keen to stick with a winning formula in 5-2-2-1, I can’t see a way of him getting back into the side under this formation.
If Rafa stays, and decides to keep the five at the back beyond the summer, then I am sure a new left wing-back will be top of his priorities. I sincerely hope Dummett isn’t cast aside, but for the moment, he will probably be out of the team.
Typical OTT reaction
Look, there is no getting away from the fact that the performance on Saturday was against a team who are rock bottom of the league and played with 10 men for 70 minutes. I think we saw on Saturday too why they are rock bottom of the league.
That shouldn’t take anything away from our performance, because any win at this level is a good win, but the reaction from some fans and local media is a bit ridiculous when they talk about another top 10 finish, and even talking about the transfers in the summer, kicking on next season.
The reality is that we are still in a relegation fight and our manager’s contract is expiring (with a far more ambitious club like Leicester on the hunt), and until we get to 35/36 points, that will be the case. Lose tomorrow night, and we are right back in there.
Lets not lose sight of where we are as a club.
Do we have enough cotton wool for Salomon Rondon?
The form as of late has been fantastic but we are still in a position in which if you take Rondon out of the team there really isn’t much there.
If he was to get injured against Burnley and we were left with Joselu for the run in, then where would that leave us? No disrespect to Joselu but I think I know most fans’ answer on that one.
He showed again on Saturday how valuable he is to the side.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Huddersfield 0
Rondon 46, Perez 52
Possession was Huddersfield 46% Newcastle 54%
Total shots were Huddersfield 3 Newcastle 29
Shots on target were Huddersfield 1 Newcastle 12
Corners were Huddersfield 0 Newcastle 12
Referee: Kevin Friend
Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie (Kenedy 68), Hayden, Longstaff, Almiron (Atsu 81), Perez, Rondon (Joselu 84)
Woodman, Manquillo, Dummett, Ki
Crowd: 52,174 (Huddersfield 2,200)
To read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to this win go HERE
Read match ratings of all Newcastle players HERE
Huddersfield manager claims red card changed everything HERE
Rafa Benitez gives his opinion on the 2-0 win HERE.
You can follow the author on Twitter @_jonathandc
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