The young keeper remains a constant worry. Despite his physical size he struggles to command his area, making crosses and set plays a genuine worry. Struggled again tonight & was anonymous for anything aerial. Kicking remains poor and distribution (emphasised by a dismal second half throw) requires improvement.
Hutton (6) (MOTM)
A tireless performance from a player who has come in for (rightful) criticism on this blog over recent seasons. What Hutton tried repeatedly to drive the game forward throughout the game, carrying the ball whilst a malaise set in across the team. Also dogged in defence and never shirked challenges where physicality was required. If some had the heart that Hutton has, we might be a better team. What Hutton doesn’t bring is resounding quality, but his commitment and work-rate cannot be brought into question.
The defender increasingly looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Comfortable on the ball and generally solid, a big question mark is growing around him holding the captaincy. Chester doesn’t talk nearly enough and this is a team which desperately needs a vocal leader on the field.
Elphick continues to struggle for form and remains a worry at the heart of the defence. Whilst a “trier”, this is an area where we really cannot afford mistakes or the risk of them. Was fortunate in the second half to not concede a penalty & looks as disorganised as the rest for set plays.
The Welshman returned to the side and looks an obvious defensive improvement over Jordan Amavi. Appeared reasonably composed, making a number of good blocks to prevent crosses. Also positive to see him trying to venture further forward, albeit with less effect. Was visibly barking orders at Kodjia who provided erratic cover across the 90 minutes.
Jedinak (5) (Subbed 71 mins)
Jedinak returned following injury and immediately provided the effective if ugly disruptive play which we so badly need. The annoyance that remains is just how poor his distribution is at times, with frequent misplaced passes undoing good work. Equally, there were some balls to team-mates which were needlessly difficult (ie. off the floor). Struggled for stamina as the game wore on.
Adomah (3) (Sub On 71 mins)
An ineffective 20 minute cameo, lacking in anything of any real note.
Bjarnason (3) (Subbed 82 mins)
The Icelandic international is now beginning to frustrate with another poor showing. Shinned a golden (if difficult) chance wide in the opening 5 minutes, skied an effort in the second half and saw a third well saved by the Newcastle keeper. Bjarnason cuts an incredinly erratic figure on the pitch. There is lots of running and interceptions, but there are equal amounts of dreadful passes and moments where his positioning is all over the place. So far, it’s hard to see either what his role is, his qualities or what he stands to bring in order to reinvigorate us.
Gardner (-) (Sub on 82′minutes)
The former Forest midfielder’s performance reflected the barrage of boos and heckles he received from the home crowd. Lansbury never got into the game, with the first half a tale of hopeful/miss-placed passes. The second half wasn’t much better as he struggled to make any positive impression upon the game. The icing on the cake of a forgettable performance was a comedy own goal from a badly defended corner. We need to see much, much more from Lansbury.
Another limited performance from a man who many regard as one of the best central midfielders in the division. So alarming was the lack of involvement in the game from Hourihane; almost anonymous. A real head scratcher and another in a long line of concerns.
Kodjia (4) (Subbed 83 mins)
Kodjia was pushed out wide and looked uncomfortable with it. Offered perhaps our only real hold up option, he enjoyed success with this, but often got caught up in traffic. Almost got lucky with a speculative deflected effort in the first half. Looked a dejected figure as attempts to try and create something (often alone) failed to materialise. Whilst singled out for selfish play (rightly so, sometimes), he had little in the way of support from team-mates either. Ineffective in the role he had been given, but offered nothing to Hogan either.
Bacuna (Sub on 83 mins)
Pointlessly introduced, yet again.
Another low score for the expensive former Brentford striker. Whilst it’s hard to criticise Hogan on the basis of the dismal service he receives, there has also been incredibly little to catch the eye in early appearances. Hogan continues to play on the last man and this should prove fruitful, but may have to adapt his game or get on the wavelength of midfield as well. Stretched Newcastle on more than one occasion and will feel unlucky that he was ruled offside when fouled by the goalkeeper in the box. Half chances at best though. Appeared to sustain a concerning injury late on & was stretchered off.