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The Day After: Home Defense

Newcastle vs Norwich Premier League Recap

Newcastle United v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

“Not the best day. If you can’t win, make sure you don’t lose.” That is a very relevant quote from Federico Fernandez after Newcastle’s 0-0 draw at home to Norwich. Social media felt the same way. Well, Kinda.

Look, it is entirely fair to criticize the way NUFC play. It is not exciting at all. It’s honestly amazing that Newcastle United have supporters at all. It’s also impossible to believe that there was an era of players called the ‘entertainers’.

As Newcastle limped their way to a goalless draw at home to bottom of the table Norwich, the abuse is definitely fair. However, one thing isn’t really being mentioned. This defense is fantastic. With this result Newcastle are now unbeaten in 7 games and if you’ve watched any of those 7 matches, the attacking has been, how do I put it? Terrible. Yet this team is still getting results. Once again, Joelinton didn’t deliver. He is becoming a sort of Ayoze figure for fans. Some are slating the final 3rd play, some are praising his work ethic and the other side of it,is we need to see goals. You sign a striker to score.

Let’s talk about this match.

Starting Lineup: Dubravka, Fernandez Lascelles, Clark, Yedlin, Bentaleb, Hayden, Ritchie, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton

Subs: Darlow, Schar, Lejeune, Rose, Lazaro, S. Longstaff, Atsu

Newcastle United v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Isn’t it so much nicer with depth? At least defensively. Offensively, Atsu is our only real option, unless we decided to throw Lazaro there (Spoiler: we didn’t).

NUFC came out in a 3-4-2-1. Saint-Maximin on the left, Almiron on the right. Bentaleb and Hayden in the midfield, with Joelinton up top.

Almost initially, NUFC got a great chance due to a link up between Ritchie and ASM, but Krul easily grabbed the ball. The rest of the first ten minutes was a pretty open match which we haven’t seen much of this season.

When Norwich would attack they would try to ping long balls behind NUFC’s defense and when NUFC attacked, they led with the wings and Norwich gave them A LOT of space there. No matter the strategies though, the final third was once again, awful for both sides.

The next 10 minutes was Newcastle getting the ball out to either ASM or Yedlin on the wings. Norwich would give them all the space they needed but still neither could get a competent cross in. However, it did finally happen. Yedlin got put a great cross into the box that Big Joe headed towards the net. Krul parried it away and Almiron missed the rebound.

Newcastle United v Norwich City - Premier League - St James’ Park Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

The rest of the first half was both teams looking dangerous on the attack but in the final third it came to nothing. Fernandez made a huge stop on Pukki, and Norwich were close on another encounter, but nothing came of it. It was the most open half we’ve seen in a while but the scoreline showed just how poor both sides were at finishing.

Half-Time 0-0

Norwich were the better side in the first half. They definitely had the most chances on goal and the second half started the exact same way. When the teams started the half, Newcastle just bunkered and invited Norwich to attack which was surprising to me.

Newcastle United v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

54th Minute Substitution: Yedlin OFF, Lazaro ON

Right after this sub it almost became 1-0 for Norwich on a corner. Fortunately for us, McLean headed just wide.

Lazaro makes his NUFC debut at RWB. Which, I’m okay with as long as ASM and Almiron are on the pitch, but I would rather have Lazaro as a midfielder over Atsu any day.

Newcastle United v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

57th Minute Substitution: Hayden OFF, S. Longstaff ON

I frankly didn’t understand this move. I don’t think Hayden did either. Hayden looked better than Bentaleb in my opinion, and then you replace him with a struggling Longstaff? Odd.

A 61st minute double chances followed. The first, that was almost an own goal. ASM curled a cross into the 6-yard box and Hanley stuck out his leg and Krul had to make a great save to keep the ball wide. The second was from the resulting corner. NUFC were caught out on a counter attack. Rupp passed to Pukki who had a lot of space and he crushes a shot that was just over the bar.

In the 69th minute, it was an ASM inspired chance. He picked up the ball on the left hand side, cut inside and then curled a ball to the post in which Krul tipped wide.

73rd minute and we had a massive Dubravka save! He’s made so many crucial saves this season and has had a few in this match already. Pukki receives the ball in the box and tried to curl a shot around Dubravka, he was able to push the ball out of the way. The ball hit Clark and almost goes in but Clark rushed back and cleared it in time.

Newcastle United v Norwich City - Premier League - St James’ Park Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

79th Minute Substitution: Saint-Maximin OFF, Rose ON

Rose makes his debut! Our three signings are on the pitch. Rose went into the Left-Wing-Back spot and Ritchie moved up to Left Wing.

84th Minute and NUFC had another chance. They were peppering corners in and this one found Fernandez. He hit one high but under the bar and Krul had to tip it over the bar.

Full-Time 0-0

There was nothing else to report for the rest of the match. Towards the end it was Newcastle just hanging onto the point. Definitely disappointing. Norwich were definitely the better team and had the best clear cut chances in the match. Dubravka once again, earned Newcastle a point. That point moved Newcastle to 10th. While that is a success, creativity is a serious issue for Newcastle and it has to be addressed.

Bruce isn’t taking responsibility for this issue and we haven’t seen any improvement in this part of the game. No excuses to have the attacking talent we have and not get any goals at home against a League One side and a bottom of the table Premier League side. No excuses at all.

Stats and Things:

  • Newcastle moved up to 10th place on the table with 31 points. They are now only 5 points from 5th place, 7 points from a relegation place.
  • Newcastle are unbeaten in all comps since their New Year’s day loss to Leicester
  • Newcastle are unbeaten against Norwich at home in the Premier League. 6 wins and 2 draws.
  • Nabil Bentaleb, Valentino Lazaro, and Danny Rose became the 237th, 238th and 239th Newcastle United players to play in the Premier League.
  • Newcastle lost the xG matchup. NUFC had 0.93xG and Norwich had 2.40.
  • Miguel Almiron led Newcastle in xG with 0.40. DeAndre Yedlin led the team in xA with 0.13.
  • PPDA (Passes allowed per defensive action in the opposition half) is another advanced stat is covered. For PPDA it is a bit of a non-factor for Newcastle because how much we bunker, a lot. But Newcastle gave up 11.32 PPDA against Norwich. Norwich gave up 7.18 PPDA
  • xPTS is another stat predicting the amount of expected points each team were supposed to get based on match-play. Newcastle had 0.41xPTS and Norwich had 2.43xPTS.
  • Sunderland are still in League One
  • Whoscored ranked each individual performance, these were the players the received a 7 or higher for Newcastle : Alan Saint-Maximin (7.74), Matt Ritchie (7.59), Federico Fernandez (7.56), Nabil Bentaleb (7.31), Ciaran Clark (7.26), Martin Dubravka, (7.24), Joelinton (7.03).
  • NUFC are currently in 10th place in the Premier League. fivethirtyeight predicts Newcastle will finish the season in 14th place on 43 points. NUFC currently have a 10% chance to get relegated and a 5% chance on a top 10 finish. Below us, they predict as Aston Villa, West Ham, and Norwich to be relegated.

Quotes

(From NUFC.com)

Steve Bruce said:

”The most important thing is we haven’t played well again, but we haven’t been beaten. That’s not a bad trait to have in the Premier League but we all know we have to play better. We haven’t done enough and we are disappointed.

”We set ourselves up to be difficult to beat. If you look at the record we’ve got, we’ve done fantastically well.

Now we have to get a little bit of quality in forward areas. We have to improve in the midfield too because the strikers need something to feed off.

”We gave the ball away so cheaply today, which is is disappointing.

”They got in a few times - we were a bit last ditch - they missed a few opportunities. To be fair, we had a big opportunity in the first half.

”Their chances were mainly through mistakes (by us) which is not like us.

”It’s taken us into the top ten. We’re trundling along a little bit. Considering the problems we’ve got, and the addition of the new players, the break is coming at the right time for us.

”We’ll have to make sure we’re better on Tuesday night.”