A lot was on the line for this Newcastle United team. A chance to make the FA Cup 5th round for the first time in 14 years. Steve Bruce has been very bullish on the prospect of “going for it”. Saying that “we don’t have a chance to win the Premier League, so what do we have a chance to win? The FA Cup”
When you set these expectations, you as the manager, need to back it up. Steve Bruce has done that with his lineup selection, but what we saw following for the next 90 minutes was completely unacceptable.
There is an expectation that when a Premier League club starts a strong lineup at home against a League One side, it should be a comfortable win. But to not score, and end in a draw, unacceptable for me.
Here is how NUFC lined up:
Darlow, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Yedlin, S. Longstaff, Bentaleb, Ritchie, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton
Subs: Elliot, Fernandez, Hayden, M. Longstaff, Atsu, Allan, Sorensen
It was nice to see Nabil Bentaleb feature in the starting lineup. He hasn't played in a while so its nice to get him some run time.
The match started and Saint-Max was in the middle, and Almiron and S. Longstaff were in front of Bentaleb,
Almost initially, Joelinton clashes with an Oxford United player and is bleeding. He received treatment and got a headband. Unfortunately though, it wasn't a Gucci one.
Ten minutes in, Lascelles dives in feet first for a dangerous tackle. He was given a yellow but I’ve seen that given a red before. Luckily, we didn’t have to deal with that this time.
Shortly after that, Saint Gucci missed a massive opportunity. Joelinton is clear down the middle of the pitch when Saint-Gucci-Max picked up the ball. He should of placed a through ball to Joe immediately and it would of been a breakaway. But instead, St. Gucci decided to dribble up the field. The next run Joelinton made was odd. He decided to sprint to the land St. Gucci was running too. Not sure why. He should of stayed in the middle. Either way, Gucci laid the ball off to Joe and he was offside, but managed to score anyway. It was a pretty neat finish.
Newcastle had 69% possession but so far, they had nothing to show for it. in the 23rd minute, there was an appeal for a handball and a VAR check on a Joelinton take-down. It was deemed not a penalty.
The match lacked important attacking moments. NUFC had the most possession, but they couldn't do anything in the final third. In the 39th minute, St. Gucci cuts in from the left and he hit a low right-footed shot but the keeper was able to push out for a corner.
Half-Time 0-0 - It was an awful first half performance for Newcastle. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, it was an opportunity to comfortably beat a League One side and it turns out this was going to be harder then anticipated.
Once again, a dull affair. Joelinton did put the ball in the net, but he was offsides again. Outside of him not scoring, he isn't looking as lost as he was in the beginning of the season. I just don’t know what else to say about him. We’ve spent too much money to not get production out of him.
St. Gucci was attacking way more as well, and we witnessed a somewhat quiet day overall from Almiron was surprising.
In the 63rd minute, Oxford almost went up 1-0. Browne attacked down the right and he had a cross blocked, then he hit a shot that went just over the bar.
70th Minute: Substitution - Saint-Maximin OFF, M. Longstaff ON
Almiron was pushed up alongside Big Joe. Matty and Sean were now in front of Bentaleb in a three-man midfield.
Matty makes almost an immediate impact and curls a short that went just passed the post. Matty has been looking miles better than his brother recently.
In the 76th minute, Schar curls in a cross from the right hand side. Lascelles heads it back across goal and Almiron tried to bicycle kick it into the net. He didn't need to do that because he had space, but the shot went over the ball.
79th Minute: Substitution - Bentaleb OFF, Atsu ON
Good run out for Bentaleb, it was good to get some playing time. Almiron began running like a mad man at this point. Getting the chance to go on multiple breakaways and he got pulled back each time leading to yellow’s for Oxford.
87th Minute Substitution - S. Longstaff OFF, Hayden ON
Hayden moved to right center-back and Schar moved into the midfield.
It was pretty awful to watch. There is no excuse for this result at home and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This was completely unacceptable.
Stats and Things:
- Newcastle are unbeaten in the last 6 matches in all comps
- Nabil Bentaleb became the third Algerian to play for Newcastle Mehdi Abeid and Islam Slimani were the other two.
- Sunderland are still in League One
”I’m frustrated, disappointed, upset.
”From the first minute to the last we were never good enough in possession. We gave the ball away. Our whole demeanour wasn’t right.
”Oxford made it difficult for us, but we made it difficult for ourselves the way we surrendered possession. The amount of mistakes we made was ridiculous.”
”When you play like that, you don’t deserve to go through. Fair play to Oxford - they made it a cup tie. We didn’t do enough and we can’t make any excuses.
”We have to accept it. We didn’t play well enough. The way we look at it is we’re still in the hat and we’ll go a week on Tuesday, or whenever it is.
”I know for a fact we’ll be better down there because, today, we didn’t pass it quick enough, we mis-controlled it and couldn’t find another black and white shirt.
”The big crowd played their part today and we haven’t done enough to make them enjoy it. We huffed and puffed all day and didn’t do enough.
”The fixture list over the last two months has decimated us and I think that’s what’s really annoying me that, today again, we haven’t got anybody to try to change something in a forward area.”