Newcastle’s disappointing start to the 2021/22 campaign continued as they lost 2-1 to Wolves at Molineux in the Premier League on Saturday.
Hee-Chan Hwang scored both goals for Wolves as he won the three points for Bruno Lage’s side, with a brilliant long-range equaliser from Jeff Hendrick sandwiched in between his strikes.
Despite the worrying nature of Newcastle’s performance, one player – in particular – caught the eye with his display in the middle of the park – Isaac Hayden.
The defensive midfielder was a shining light in a dim afternoon for the Magpies, as he was one of only two Newcastle players to manage a SofaScore rating of 7.0 or higher – alongside Matt Ritchie – with the rest of the side evidently struggling.
Defensively, he was almost flawless. Per SofaScore, he won an outstanding 83.33% of his duels on the pitch as he won ten of 12 ground battles. He made one clearance, one interception and an impressive four tackles, as he showed off his defensive quality.
This shows that he was able to cope with the physicality of the Wolves midfield and win his individual battles, although he was let down by his teammates in that regard. Sean Longstaff lost ten of his 14 duels and Hendrick lost four of six, suggesting that they were unable to deal with Wolves’ strength in 50/50’s in the same way Hayden was able to.
On the ball, Hayden had 60 touches of the ball and completed three of four attempted dribbles, helping Newcastle in transition. However, he did let himself down at times with his passing as he completed 63% of those he attempted. The midfield powerhouse could have been more reliable in possession, but that could be put down to a lack of options from his teammates going forward.
Overall, though, Hayden enjoyed a positive afternoon individually as Newcastle struggled as a collective.
Bruce, however, will surely be delighted with his midfielder’s display. If he can continue to perform to that level whilst his teammates catch up with him then that could help the Magpies to start climbing up the table.