Emil Krafth badly let Steve Bruce down as Newcastle United were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday night.
The Toon were desperate for a positive result with them creeping ever closer to the relegation zone and they may see their lead over 18th-placed Fulham be reduced to a single point on Sunday.
Scott Parker’s Craven Cottage natives visit Crystal Palace in the midday kick-off, striving to make what was once a 10-point gap to the Magpies a distant dream just three weeks on.
Krafth was given the run around by Wolves forward Adama Traore throughout the night at St. James’ Park, with the powerful Spaniard constantly showing the defender a clean pair of heels.
Traore often assumed centre-stage for the visiting side and came close to marking his first assist in the Premier League this season late in the first half, when Ruben Neves could only send the 25-year-old’s cutback wide.
Altogether, Traore accounted for three of Wolves’ 14 shots and provided a joint game-high four key passes – level with Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin – to warrant WhoScored’s Man of the Match award with a 9.3 out of 10 rating.
No other player for either side scored above a 7.8 (Pedro Neto), while Krafth earned a 7.1 for his performance that ended in the 72nd-minute due to a shin issue.
Krafth was also given a 6.6 out of 10 by SofaScore, who similarly marked Traore (8.4) as their Man of the Match, representing the third-worst grade be a United player who started ahead of only Joe Willock (6.4) and Ciaran Clark (6.5).
The Chronicle also criticised Jamal Lewis for his performance, noting how the £15m summer signing from Norwich City had failed to prevent the cross which led to Wolves’ equaliser while not being at his best offensively.
Yet the former Canaries full-back’s overall performance was better than Krafth’s, with the Sweden international dribbled past twice as often as the Northern Ireland international (2), per SofaScore. Only Willock (6) was dribbled past more often for either side.
Lewis also won three of his six ground duels to Krafth’s two from six, took 64 touches to the 26-year-old’s 38, completed 40 of his 45 passes (89%) to the right-back’s 21 of 26 (81%) and was successful with his only attempted dribble, while the £5m ex-Amiens SC defender failed to run with the ball at his feet on any occasions.
Krafth generally offers more for Newcastle than what he produced against Wolves, with the £58,000-per-week dud averaging 44.6 touches, a 58% ground duel success rate, and is dribbled past only the once compared to the four times versus Wolves.
With Traore ranking first in the Premier League for successful dribbles (105) and second to Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish (187) for ground duels won (179) throughout the 2020/21 season to date, Bruce knew Krafth would have his work cut out trying to restrict the Spaniard.
Yet Krafth failed to keep the five-time international quiet, and he was lucky to not be punished to cost Newcastle the solitary, but potentially vital, point they were able to attain.