Newcastle United supporters in the Transfer Tavern are somewhat satisfied at present after seeing their side earn their first point of the Premier League season in drawing 0-0 with Cardiff City on Saturday.
Rafa Benitez’s men went into their clash in South Wales off the back of losing 2-1 to Tottenham on the opening weekend of the new campaign, and thus seeking to get the season going with all three points against Neil Warnock’s side. And while they had the chance to grab the victory with a penalty late on, Kenedy wasn’t able to get the better of Bluebirds goalkeeper Neil Etheridge to leave both teams having to settle for a share of the spoils at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Thus, while there is some frustration among Newcastle fans, others are slightly more upbeat after getting off the mark for the new season, although the performance has been bemoaned by many up and down the country.
And while the Magpies were poor against Cardiff on Saturday, one man stood out for his efforts for Benitez’s side, namely midfielder Jonjo Shelvey.
The 26-year-old was tipped by many last season to make the England squad for the World Cup earlier this summer given his exploits for Newcastle in the second half of the campaign, and the ex-Liverpool star once again underlined his credentials with a fine display in South Wales.
While Benitez’s men didn’t carry a huge attacking threat on Saturday, it was Shelvey who was trying to make things happen for the visitors in touching the ball more times than any other player on the pitch (72), which ended up 19 touches more than the next-best Newcastle man in Mohamed Diame.
And while his pass success rate of 64% wasn’t one of the best in the Magpies side, that may be in part down to the fact that Shelvey attempted more passes than anybody else in the Newcastle eleven with 56 (16 more than next-best Ciaran Clark), pulling off 36 of those passes to sit top of that particular chart as well.
Significantly, of the five key passes Newcastle produced over the course of the 90 minutes, all of them came from the boot of Shelvey to underline his willingness to make things happen for the North East giants.
And the fact that he only lost possession twice is also impressive given the amount of touches and time he had on the ball during the match, alongside the fact that Kenedy lost the ball eight times, Joselu seven, and Diame and Ayoze Perez six during the 90 minutes – arguably, Shelvey was the only one keeping things together in the attacking third of the pitch.
The centre back partnership of Clark and captain Jamaal Lascelles deserve mentions given their exploits in helping the Magpies record a clean sheet on the road, although just one Cardiff shot on target suggests that they weren’t hugely stretched.
Yet it was England international Shelvey who really proved his credentials, and while there were some misplaced passes and moments in which he could have performed better, he was the best of a bad bunch for Benitez’s side in the Welsh capital on Saturday.
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