Newcastle succumbed to their fourth defeat in five games as Leicester comfortably won 3-0 at St. James’ Park, thanks in part to a shocking display from Florian Lejeune.
The defender was at fault for the visitors’ first two goals, inexplicably passing the ball across goal where Ayoze Perez was waiting to pounce, and he duly picked up the ball before finding the bottom corner.
It was a day to forget for Steve Bruce as his side incurred four injuries, with Fabian Schar’s hamstring five minutes into the second half causing the Magpies to play with ten men for the remainder of the match.
Jonjo Shelvey, Jetro Willems, Javier Manquillo and DeAndre Yedlin also picked up significant injuries, with the first three players all forced off though Yedlin continued despite breaking his hand.
That means Newcastle are down to bare bones in defence, with Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummet already sidelined due to suffering injuries earlier in the season, and that will be a big concern for Bruce.
He does still have Lejeune to call upon, of course, but the Frenchman has only just returned from a long injury lay-off himself and starting four games in the space of 12 days clearly hasn’t done him any favours.
As well as his careless mistakes in twice giving the ball away in his own final third, he was sloppy in other areas, and that is demonstrated by his stats recorded by WhoScored, who gave him a rating of 4.3.
His passing accuracy shows why he performed so badly, managing just 49% completion that caused his team to invite pressure from the opposition, which meant goals were inevitable.
Bruce will likely be frustrated at handing out a victory to Leicester so easily, as other than the mistakes Newcastle had remained quite strong defensively, despite the hit from injuries.
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However, Lejeune will want to put this match behind him as he achieved just one tackle and zero blocks, hinting that he wasn’t up to speed and was perhaps struggling with fatigue – as some supporters suggest.
The FA Cup match against Rochdale offers Newcastle a bit of reprieve and an opportunity to play fringe players or youngsters, but so many injuries mean that they could struggle when the Premier League returns.
Sitting just five points above the relegation zone now means the club is in a precarious position and must make movements in the transfer market to address their concerns, with a defensive addition now a priority due to the lengthy injury list.
Meanwhile, Newcastle fans have been discussing whether some sections of the support were right to boo Ayoze Perez on his return to the club.