3 Positives and 3 Negatives to take from Al-Hilal 0 Newcastle 5
Thursday’s match ended Al-Hilal 0 Newcastle 5.
Ahead of each match we ask one of our writers to come up with three positives and three negatives following the game.
This was a friendly match which was played at a high tempo in testing conditions, heat and humidity adding to the sweat on the brows of the Newcastle players as they got back on the pitch, as Eddie Howe picks up the pace of preparations ahead of competitive games later this month.
This time it is John Martin:
The biggest thing that struck me over the course of the match, was just how fit the team / squad looked.
It was zero surprise as Eddie Howe has prided himself on getting this set of players as fit as possible, which is essential with the style of football he wants the team to play. High energy, high press, high points return.
Nevertheless, comforting to see last night, with less than two weeks until the Bournemouth match.
Like he’s never been away
Miggy Almiron was outstanding when he came on.
Scored two excellent goals and only denied a second-half hat-trick by the crossbar.
As we all know, Almiron is currently Newcastle’s top scorer with eight Premier League goals, but the signs were there ahead of the season. Miggy top scoring in the friendlies with six goals, now another two in this one, as he looks intent on continuing his hot streak.
If he ends up with 15+ Premier League goals this season, what a massive boost it will be for Newcastle United, never mind the player himself.
The German keeper is still only 29 and he was excellent on Thursday night, making a few quality saves.
It was expected that Loris Karius would only stay until the new year but it now appears that Eddie Howe wants him to sign a new deal and stay on.
He will always be remembered for that Champions League final defeat in 2018 but easy to ignore the fact that he was a key player when it came to Liverpool getting to that final. In his 12 Champions League appearances leading up to that final, it included six clean sheets.
(***Oh yes, Newcastle United also picked up their first silver(gold?)ware of the season!)
Not so fit/quick
I mentioned above how fit the team / squad looked, how quick they all were, especially in the attacking half.
Well, there was one exception.
He was never that quick to start with and he turns 31 in February…I think Jonjo Shelvey is going to struggle to keep up with the rest of these Newcastle players.
As Joelinton, ASM, Murphy, Willock, Longstaff, Wood and others sprinted all over the pitch, for me, Shelvey looked laboured in comparison.
Not saying he won’t still have a part to play at times…but I can’t see him as first choice in a team where Eddie Howe needs everybody able to play at that high tempo.
Not so friendly
From the first whistle it was clear this wasn’t going to be a laidback kick around.
The Newcastle players were clearly looking for a good workout and trying to impress Eddie Howe in advance of the season restarting. Whilst Al-Hilal were only eight days away from their own (Saudi) league kicking off again.
There were some tough challenges going in from both sides but it was when the game slipped away from Al-Hilal that I became concerned.
Miguel Almiron was especially targeted with some not so friendly challenges / assaults, that might have produced a red card in a proper game. Not liking the fact they were getting hammered in front of their own fans and management / owners, we saw one Al-Hilal defender completely take out Almiron as he sprinted past, whilst Ighalo slyly put his studs down Miggy’s Achilles. Yellow cards for both BUT no consolation if they’d added our top scorer to the injury list.
If Newcastle keep winning in the cups, a 45 day stretch could see NUFC with 12 games in the league and cups.
We will need as many players fit as possible and last night I counted 11 first team players missing in total, Krafth is of course out until next season but we need as many of the rest back available ASAP.
Of the other ten, five of them are of course absent due to their World Cup involvement and with all of them (Bruno, Trippier, Schar, Pope and Wilson) having been first eleven starters before the break, we especially need this quintet to return ready and willing to keep that pre-World Cup form going.
Al-Hilal 0 Newcastle 5
Joelinton 8, 43, Almiron 75, 82, Stephenson 85
Newcastle team v Al-Hilal:
Loris Karius (Mark Gillespie 46), Javier Manquillo (Lewis Miley 88), Jamaal Lascelles (Jay Turner-Cooke 88), Sven Botman (Dan Burn 60), Jamal Lewis (Alex Murphy 77), Jonjo Shelvey (Joe White 65), Joelinton (Elliot Anderson 56), Joe Willock (Ryan Fraser 62), Jacob Murphy (Miguel Almiron 46), Allan Saint-Maximin (Dylan Stephenson 77), Chris Wood (Sean Longstaff 39)
Complete Newcastle United match and live TV schedule so far confirmed up to end of February 2023:
Saturday 17 December 2022 – Newcastle v Rayo Vallecano (12.30pm) Friendly
Wednesday 21 December 2022 – Newcastle v Bournemouth (7.45pm) League Cup fourth round
Monday 26 December 2022 – Leicester v Newcastle (3pm) Amazon Prime
Saturday 31 December 2022 – Newcastle v Leeds (3pm)
Tuesday 3 January 2023 – Arsenal v Newcastle (8pm) Sky Sports
Saturday 7 January 2023 – Sheffield Wednesday v Newcastle (6pm) BBC 1 and BBC i-player
Sunday 15 January 2023 – Newcastle v Fulham (2pm) Sky Sports
Saturday 21 January 2023 – Crystal Palace v Newcastle (5.30pm) Sky Sports
Saturday 4 February 2023 – Newcastle v West Ham (5.30pm) Sky Sports
Saturday 11 February 2023 – Bournemouth v Newcastle (5.30pm) Sky Sports
Saturday 18 February 2023 – Newcastle v Liverpool (5.30pm) Sky Sports
Saturday 25 February 2023 – Newcastle v Brighton (12.30pm) BT Sport
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