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Opinion

Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Key thoughts from the match

4 weeks ago
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Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 was a six pointer that delivered in atmosphere…but not in result.

Slightly different match report feedback this time, as I was actually at St James Park for this one.

Partially to support the team, partially to see how the stadium atmosphere translates in the post-lockdown realm, but mainly because Leeds are my second team, so seeing the two teams I support playing each other was too good to turn down.

It was a very energised match, with the atmosphere turning very toxic at times.

A half-hearted Premier League protest was drowned out by the Brucie out chants, especially early in the game. Then at the final whistle as well, but honestly, I think Mike Dean got even more hate than Steve Bruce, and well deserved. A shocking display of biased officiating, even blocking a shot from ASM, then giving a free-kick to Leeds!

In my opinion, Leeds were very poor in comparison to their normal flowing football, and Bamford was anonymous for the majority of the game. Raphinia scored a great goal early on (with help from a tremendous Rodrigo dummy), but most of their other chances were caused by our shocking lack of a midfield and so many knock downs into free space in our own final third, gifting gilt-edged chances that were simply not taken.

ASM was of course electric, and surprisingly, Joelinton was one of our star performers tonight. He dominated Dallas in the air, winning so many balls and started off a lot of attacks, also got the assist for ASM’s brilliant strike just before half time. He could have even set up a couple more but Leeds defended the cutbacks into the box well all game.

A 1-1 felt like a fair result, given Leeds’ wasteful attack and our poor possession play in midfield.

Here are my main thoughts from the match:

More bodies in midfield needed

We were shocking in midfield today, squandering possession, gifting the ball to Leeds, and playing so deep that they were almost level with the defenders.

I know we play on the counter-attack, but Willock and Almiron can’t run the length of the pitch on their own every time.

Longstaff I thought was very poor today, wasting set-pieces, sloppy in delivery, poor in possession.

It’s been said so often but we do need to put more bodies in midfield and either play a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1, because on another day, Leeds could have scored a hatful.

Slow build up = No chance to counter-attack

At one point, we stopped a sloppy Leeds attack, and after a good 30 seconds, three players were still behind Darlow as he looked for options to pass out to from the goal-kick.

How can we counter attack and also be this slow?

Perhaps if we could transition faster we could have made more chances, another reason why more midfield bodies are needed.

When used right – Joelinton is a great team player

Look, he’ll never be a prolific goalscorer, and he never should have been bought as one, but when playing like this, Joelinton is a great team player.

He fought hard, won balls, and started so many attacks off his own back – he won more balls in midfield than most of our midfield!

He even left the pitch to a standing ovation tonight, so clearly I wasn’t alone in these thoughts. I think with a proper striker up top and him playing as a support forward, there could yet be a place for him at the club – just not the one he’s been forced to step up to.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Friday 17 September 8pm

Goals:

Newcastle:

Saint-Maximin 44

Leeds:

Raphinha 13

(In brackets the first half stats)

Possession was Leeds 65% (65%) Newcastle 35% (35%)

Total shots were Leeds 21 (13)  Newcastle 17 (7)

Shots on target were Leeds 9 (5) Newcastle 7 (3)

Corners were Leeds 5 (4) Newcastle 4 (1)

Referee: Mike Dean

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Manquillo (Krafth 81), Hayden, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Sean Longstaff, Almiron (Fraser 62), Willock, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Murphy 90+1)

Unused Subs:

Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Fernandez, Gayle

Crowd:

50,407 (3,200 Leeds)

(Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Marcelo Bielsa gutted after Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – It’s a game we should have won – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Friday’s draw – Read HERE)

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