Football Features

“He looks out of sorts” – Five things learned as Wolves peg Newcastle back

By Steve Jennings

Published: 16:02, 27 October 2019

Wolves fought back to earn a point against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday afternoon.

The hosts went ahead in the first half through captain Jamaal Lascelles, whose header gave Steve Bruce’s side a well-deserved lead.

But Jonny struck midway through the second period to level things up before Sean Longstaff’s red card gave Wolves the chance to finish the better side.

Here are five things we learned.

1. Almiron’s breakthrough remains elusive

If Newcastle fans are beginning to lose patience with Miguel Almiron, you wouldn’t know it. The club’s record signing looked short on confidence again here but the St. James’ Park faithful were fully behind him, encouraging him at every opportunity.

Their patience continues to be required. Almiron had two good chances to work the goalkeeper in the first half but could not direct his efforts on target. The first was a fluffed volley, the second a low effort that hit the side netting after a promising run in-behind.

Though his lack of confidence is clearly affecting his final product, Almiron isn’t hiding away. He’s getting into the right positions, but needs a break; a deflection, an open goal – anything to make his first goal easy. Until then, the Paraguayan will just be hoping the supporters stay on his side.

2. Joelinton looks out of sorts

It would be harsh to pinpoint Almiron as the sole reason Newcastle are struggling going forward. Their major issue is, in fact, Joelinton’s contribution through the middle. Tellingly, he has still scored just once, his winner away to Tottenham.

Andy Carroll’s injury means Bruce has no option but to stick with Joelinton if he wants to continue having a big centre-forward on the pitch, but the Brazilian’s performances could soon provoke a change in approach.

That’s because Joelinton has been far too immobile in the central role. He is often waiting for the ball, perhaps through no fault of his own; Bruce may be instructing him to stay in one place so that Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin can dovetail off him. But it’s simply not working.

3. Wolves are struggling to balance two competitions

Wolves eventually grew into this game and took away a well-deserved point, but they were far from their best in the first half, which was likely a result of their European travels in midweek. Though their victory in Slovakia was impressive, the trip probably took it out of them somewhat.

And that continues to be a problem for Wolves. Ironically, it’s unlikely they will qualify for the Europa League this season because playing in the Europa League is having an effect on their Premier League form. In any case, Nuno Espirito Santo will be thankful they have enough quality to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.

Had Newcastle capitalised on their best spell of the game in the first half by scoring more than once, it’s likely we’d be talking about a Wolves defeat here. For now, Santo’s men are just about keeping up the balancing act – but it’s a struggle.

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4. Saint-Maximin and Traore provide the entertainment

In a match low on overall quality, a pair of fast, tricky wingers provided most of the entertainment. Saint-Maximin and Adama Traore completed six and four dribbles respectively and were often responsible for getting their sides up the pitch.

By doing so, they stopped the contest from being a totally dull affair with the ball spending most of its time in the middle third. Saint-Maximin was particularly electric in the first half, bursting forward whenever possible and getting the fans on their feet with his mazy runs.

Traore took over those duties in the second half and gave Wolves a bit of impetus after a drab opening 45 minutes for the visitors. His determination to get forward gave his side a foothold, and he was involved in the equaliser, combining with Matt Doherty before Jonny converted. Long live the traditional winger.

5. Newcastle need to learn to score twice

The Newcastle players are clearly playing for Bruce despite a difficult start to the season, and that will serve them well if they are dragged into a relegation battle. Unfortunately, if the Magpies do not learn how to score twice in a game, they will be among those fighting to stay in the Premier League.

By the end here, they were holding on for a point because of their inability to double their advantage coupled with Sean Longstaff’s foolish red card.

That dismissal could be seen as a mitigating factor that contributed to yet another weak performance in front of goal but ultimately, Newcastle only have themselves to blame for not possessing enough of a goal threat. This needs to change, quickly.

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