Another home game, another defeat, and the result takes Newcastle to the bottom of the Premier League, with the Magpies yet to win and only a feeble two points on the board. It was a game where Newcastle controlled possession and created numerous chances but still scored a blank. Brighton were a plucky side and took their one chance and defended resolutely. They had a bit of luck with the awarding of the key corner which should have been a goal kick.
Attack is the Issue
Newcastle’s issues are definitely in attack, with Rafael Benitez deciding to go for Ayoze Perez and Yoshinori Muto up front. Perez has been too lightweight and ineffective for months and has not fulfilled his potential from when he first joined the Magpies. The issue of a poor front line for the Premier League was not addressed in the transfer market and is coming home to roost. Kenedy is looking better but is still far from producing his form from last year. Matt Ritchie has struggled to make a significant impact and has returned zero goals this year. Joselu has been ineffective and is clearly not at Premier League standard.
The signing of Salomon Rondon has, so far, been a flop with just one goal and the majority of the time he has not been fit. Muto showed promise against Manchester United but is still adapting to the Premier League and does not look like he is going to be a regular goalscorer. The departures of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle, who are scoring freely for their respective clubs, makes Rafa’s decision to let them go look silly.
Rafa’s Tactics and Substitutions
The tactics seem to be to work the ball wide and cross into the area but with two very short strikers, it doesn’t make sense to do this. Newcastle fans were also perplexed as to why, at 1-0 down, Rafa made only one change when Newcastle were chasing a goal. It also implies he has no faith in the likes of Christian Atsu or Jacob Murphy when they are not used. Rafa has always said the signings he has made were the ones he could get for the budget and not necessarily the ones he wanted.
Newcastle fans showed frustration before the match with numerous ‘Ashley Out’ protests prior to the game. There was also booing when Joselu came on and a general frustration at times with the lack of urgency shown by Newcastle players at the time. The fact that the fans may now be taking out their frustration on the players may lead to more discontent. Their next game is Southampton away and if they struggle to pick up points, it may mean that they could worryingly get cut adrift and result in the third relegation of the Ashley era.