Newcastle United 0-3 Watford
How is everybody feeling?
Newcastle United’s worst performance of the season and fourth defeat in a row certainly leaves us with a few concerns and very much with the feeling of not knowing where the next points are coming from.
A Tuesday night game against West Brom now looks critical and with Rafa at the helm you always have hope that a change of fortunes is just around the corner.
What was most worrying however was that this performance bore none of the trademarks we’ve come to expect for a United side under Benitez.
Without shape, fight or the workmate that have been synonymous with his teams at SJP, and certainly not compact.
STARTING XI: Elliot, Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame (Merino, 69), Murphy (Perez, 77), Gayle, Joselu (Mitrovic, 69)
The continued experiment of playing Gayle at the number 10, in fact more like his own number 9 with two up top is just not working. And a more attacking intent left huge gaps at full back that were exposed time and time again by a good Watford side.
Most Newcastle fans were probably expecting a tough game today but to lose in this manner was most unexpected and very disappointing. The defeat leaves the Magpies just 4 points above the relegation zone with a tough run of fixtures ahead.
The game played out perfectly for the Visitors and you wonder whether the manner of the defeat was partly down to circumstances and Newcastle having to chase the game.
If we assume this is true for a moment then the game should have been very different. This so, as our number 21 continues to be uninspiring in front of goal this time missing a glorious chance early on to side foot home, or at least on target, after good work from Murphy on the left found him unmarked 6 yards out.
Perhaps going one up would have lead to a very different Newcastle performance, instead Newcastle were left chasing the game from the 19th minute.
Where Joselu failed, Hughes made no mistake, and looks exactly the sort of player who would have thrived in our number 10 shirt.
With Newcastle committing more and more bodies forward with a real sense of urgency the gaps at the back were alarming. And when Zeegelaar found acres of space on the left wing in injury time the seemingly inevitable second goal would be killer before the break, just as it was last week. This time the unlucky Yedlin was responsible, poking the cross into his own net.
The second half was a real mess. gaps everywhere, Watford happy to sit and control the game, and they should have had an absolute hatful of goals with Gray in particular guilty of missing two spectacular opportunities to stretch Watford’s lead.
Eventually he would get his goal on 62 minutes but by then it could have been a cricket score.
Another miss from Joselu after his inexplicably slide in to finish a cross when it looked like he could and should have stayed on his feet and blasted home meant Rafa would finally put him out of his misery. He was replaced by Mitrovic who was unlucky to see a great effort blocked when destined for the net with just a few minutes left.
Newcastle could have no complaints however and something needs to be done and done quickly to this team if we are not going to find ourselves in the bottom 3 come Christmas.
With Merino back as a sub the return of Lascelles also can’t come quick enough, whilst at least Murphy showed glimpses of a player that could cover for Atsu during any prolonged layoff.