Ciaran Clark was Steve Bruce’s true saving grace as Newcastle United lost 2-1 at home to Leicester City on Sunday.
Wonderful strikes from Foxes midfield maestros James Maddison and Youri Tielemans did the damage for Brendan Rodgers’ side, as they claimed a seventh away win of the Premier League season.
No team has been as successful or better away from home this term than the King Power Stadium natives, who emerged triumphant on Tyneside, despite Clark producing a dominant display on the left of Bruce’s three-strong centre-half line.
Clark, earning his eighth start of the top-flight campaign, started well to offer United hope of claiming a result when he cleared the danger in the fourth-minute after Harvey Barnes was easily able to stroll past Sean Longstaff, on a day for the midfielder to forget.
The £4.5m-rated centre-back continued to provide an important presence in front of Karl Darlow’s goal with key tackles in the first half, and almost struck his second goal of the season after meeting a Matt Ritchie corner midway through the second period.
Newcastle nearly salvaged a point in the closing stages as their winless run stretched to six games across all competitions, after Andy Carroll lashed home a perfectly timed volley eight minutes from time for his first Toon goal since 2010.
It was ultimately not to be despite an improved overall second-half performance from the Magpies, who ended the weekend eight points clear of the bottom three but having played a game more than Scott Parker’s relegation-threatened Fulham in 18th place.
Clark was by far Bruce’s true saving grace against Leicester during the Foxes’ visit to St. James’ Park on Sunday, despite conceding twice as Newcastle tasted a seventh defeat of the season.
The 31-year-old recorded a joint-game high three successful tackles with fellow Toon defenders Ritchie and DeAndre Yedlin, having won each of his attempted efforts, along with one interception and success in a titanic game-high seven aerial duels, per WhoScored.
Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez each only attempted a single aerial duel against the King Power Stadium natives, while also registering fewer touches of the ball than Clark whose 67 touches was a team-high tally.
No Newcastle player offered a higher number of accurate (33) or attempted (47) passes than Clark, either, with the Harrow-born enforcer relied on to play out from the back.
Clark further won four of his five ground duels, never committed a foul and attempted one dribble, per SofaScore, to stand out on a day the Toon offered little in attack.