Happy Thanksgiving – A step in the right direction as the Turkeys came out ok in the end
Here in the USA we celebrated Thanksgiving Day on Thursday.
That means watching the Dallas Cowboys play egg ball, and full plates of turkey, ham, and Yorkshire Puddings with all the fixings.
I’ve got more than I deserve in life to be thankful for, not least three unexpected points for the Toon after Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle 2.
While it certainly wasn’t pretty, seeing that smile on Callum Wilson’s face after he scored made the prior 87 minutes of viewing worthwhile.
If Palace had taken a couple of their second half chances the game would have been over long before Wilson and Joelinton linked so surprisingly to score the all important first goal. I’m equally thankful this week that Roy Hodgson decided to leave Benteke and Batshuayi on the bench as we were there for the taking.
To be fair, Bruce got plenty right today – some things knowingly and others by chance.
Four at the back is the way we should always play and both Fernandez and Clark had solid games at the heart of the defence. It was good to see Clark back and he won more than his share of headers and tackles, plus he used the ball considerably better than Lascelles does. Fernandez continues to prove a good signing and plays much better as part of a back four than a five. Several great blocks from Federico today. Behind them, Darlow continued his great run of form, making several excellent saves when called upon and commanding his box.
For me, this was Joelinton’s best game in a Newcastle shirt. He continuously found space between the lines, controlled and protected the ball well and used it simply and efficiently more times than not. His final pass and finishing are still sadly lacking but his link up play with Wilson was encouraging. With a bit of Calvert-Lewinesque luck, Big Joe could’ve had a hat-trick today! Granted, it’ll take more than one decent game for Joelinton to claim a regular starting spot but today at least showed glimpses of what he can do as a #10.
Wilson was my first choice as incoming striker last summer, takeover or not, and he has delivered in every department. His strength and hold up play continue to surprise me, and his goals are the reason we’ll stay up this season.
I hope that the next four games can help rebuild some confidence and form in Longstaff Sr. His touch wasn’t great today, he was turned too easily, and looked off the pace defensively at times. However, that 25 yard run with the ball in the second half, driving up the middle of the field, was enough to instil a bit of belief that he can provide what we’re so badly lacking in midfield.
We certainly missed Hayden’s industry and protection in the middle of the park today. I’m concerned that Bruce is going to persist with Shelvey (captain!) and Hendrick, even though both offered very little. Shelvey sprayed the ball around a bit but was typically pedestrian and caught ball-watching too many times, while Hendrick was sadly anonymous throughout. I wish the substitution on 70 mins had seen Hendrick off for either Ritchie or Murphy, rather than Almiron being hooked. It would have been encouraging to at least think that Bruce was actually going for the win.
An attacking four of Wilson, Joelinton tucked in behind him, with two from Almiron/ASM/Fraser in the wide positions, has possibilities and potentially can carry a real threat. A central midfield partnership of Hayden and Longstaff can provide the legs and cover to both protect the back four and release the attacking players when we’ve got the ball.
Let’s hope we can put something of a run together between now and the New Year from the next four winnable games.
Whilst ultimately wishing for a manager change, I’ll put up with Bruce cooing in his post-match interviews for the meantime.
Happy Thanksgiving Lads and Lasses – HTL
Stats from BBC Sport:
Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle 2 – Friday 27 November 8pm
Wilson 88, Joelinton 89
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was Crystal Palace 58% (58%) Newcastle 42% (42%)
Total shots were Crystal Palace 12 (3) Newcastle 14 (6)
Shots on target were Crystal Palace 3 (2) Newcastle 7 (3)
Corners were Crystal Palace 7 (3) Newcastle 3 (1)
Referee: Graham Scott
Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Clark, Lewis, Shelvey, Hendrick, S Longstaff, Almiron (Ritchie 68), Joelinton (Schar 90+3), Wilson
Gillespie, M Longstaff, Yedlin, Murphy, Anderson
(3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle 2 – Read HERE)
(Trolls attack Newcastle United fans after 2-0 win at Crystal Palace – Read HERE)
(Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle 2 – Watch HERE as Wilson and Joelinton clinch it in official match highlights)
(Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle 2 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Friday’s victory – Read HERE)
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