Newcastle United and manager Rafa Benitez won their third consecutive Premier League match on Monday evening, defeating Burnley 2-1. Goals arrived early in the first half thanks to Federico Fernández and Ciaran Clark, and that played into the Magpies’ tactics perfectly.
Yes, it seems like an obvious statement. Scoring goals is kind of the point of this whole thing, but some teams thrive in terms of mounting a comeback and some simply do not. Benitez’s current Newcastle squad are not one of those groups, and being down a few goals can be an impossible challenge. Against Burnley though, they showed what they are capable of when the match is in front of them.
It all could’ve been easier, of course, and would have been much less stressful for the fans. The attack is still a legitimate problem, and that was on display at Turf Moor.
Salomón Rondón was not able to carry his recent form into Monday’s fixture, and did not make much of an impact versus the Clarets. He came off for Joselu late in the match. The Spanish forward was able to hit the post with one shot, but could not find the back of the net for what would have been a crucial (and relieving) third goal.
Matt Ritchie had a chance that players dream of, only to feel frustration instead. Newcastle’s goals came from sharp play in key situations, and making the most of space around them. They are not a side that will score goals in bunches. However, once they get ahead they can do enough to see out a win.
With his usual 4-4-1-1 formation, Benitez balances a pragmatic approach with finding moments in the final third. Wide midfielders Ritchie and Kenedy will look to create space out wide, and crosses into the box often represent some of United’s best scoring situations.
Up front, Rondón looks to use his size and strength to hold up play for team-mates, and put himself in the best possible position to score on his own. In the midfield, Ki Sung-yeung has shown excellent abilities in both keeping possession and accurate passing.
At the back, Fernández and fellow summer signing Fabian Schär have made for a strong defensive duo in front of goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka. It may not be pretty, but it can all be quite efficient for the Toon.
Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez earned their first away win of the 2018-19 Premier League season at Burnley on Monday. With an early goal or two and strong defensive discipline, their philosophy has the potential to keep them in the top flight.Published 27 Nov 2018, 05:15 IST