Newcastle United continue their longest unbeaten run in over a decade in the Premier League as they took all three points against Brighton and Hove Albion at St James’ Park this afternoon, but it was definitely not a smooth ride for the Magpies.
Despite the home side sealing a 2-1 victory, Graham Potter’s men refused to give up on their chances of stealing a point right up to the last seconds of the game.
Newcastle took full control early into the first half, with Ryan Fraser and Fabian Schar both finding the net inside the first 15 minutes. However, the second half was not as calm and comfortable as Eddie Howe would have liked, especially when Lewis Dunk opened up Brighton’s chances to make a comeback in the 55th minute.
The second half certainly showed Newcastle’s weaknesses in the team, and although the Magpies were able to hold onto all three points for a fourth win in their last five matches, there are definitely question marks over certain players when the home side were attempting to hold onto an early lead.
One player who was completely off the mark today was Jonjo Shelvey, who made little to no impact against Brighton, and he was very lucky that his actions didn’t cost his team points overall.
According to SofaScore, Shelvey failed to make a single tackle or interception against his opponents, lost all of his aerial and ground duels over the 90 minutes and was dribbled past twice during the game.
Fortunately, the team had enough quality elsewhere to keep themselves ahead, but it does beg the question as to why the 30-year-old wasn’t benched in the second half to give Bruno Guimaraes the chance to bring a fresh impetus to midfield, and to give the £70k-p/w liability the break he clearly needed towards the end of the match.
Howe will be relieved that he has almost secured top-flight safety for the Magpies this season, as they have climbed to 14th and are now seven points clear of the relegation zone in the Premier League.
It will be interesting to see if he takes the opportunity to rotate his team by giving some players a rest during the midweek clash against Southampton. On today’s evidence, Shelvey will be lucky to keep his place in the side for that one.
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