Newcastle’s dismal Premier League campaign continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Norwich at St. James’ Park on Tuesday night.
The Magpies got off to the worst possible as Ciaran Clark hauled Teemu Pukki down and was shown a straight red card by the referee.
However, a handball by Billy Gilmour gifted Callum Wilson the opportunity to score from the spot and his effort from 12-yards snuck past Tim Krul to hand the lead.
Eddie Howe’s side failed to pick up their first win, though, as Teemu Pukki scored a stunning volley to level the scores for the Canaries.
Clark’s early mistake and sending off disrupted Newcastle’s rhythm and there were some resilient performances across the pitch to dig in and pick up a result. However, one player who did let Howe down on the pitch was central midfielder Joe Willock.
He struggled in the midfield and found it difficult to make his mark defensively or in transition. He had one promising break in the first half leading to a chance for Callum Wilson, but did little else on the ball in the match – ending his time on the pitch with just 24 touches.
Magpies goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (45) had more touches than the ex-Arsenal man. Jonjo Shelvey, meanwhile, had 54 touches and completed six long balls and crosses combined, showing that he took charge in the midfield.
Defensively, the £19.8m-rated flop was poor. Per SofaScore, he lost 62.5% of his duels – five of eight – and failed to make a single tackle, interception, clearance or block whilst being dribbled past once. This shows that he was a lightweight defending his own goal and let Howe down with his attempts to win the ball back off Norwich or to close their players down.
It is difficult to blame Willock for his lack of quality on the ball due to the circumstances at play in the match, but his lack of strength off the ball is a major cause for concern.
Howe will surely be livid with his lack of involvement against the play and it could cost him his place in the XI for the clash with Burnley at the weekend. There was an effort from the 22-year-old to help Jamal Lewis out at left-back and plug gaps, but he needs to be more effective with his work rate.
In the position Newcastle are in, they cannot afford to carry passengers in the side and that was what Willock was with his performance in midfield. He needs to buck his ideas up if he wants to live up to his reported £25m transfer fee.