While nobody within Newcastle United has offered up any excuses for the 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa, former Magpie Shay Given had a couple of thoughts after the game.
Former Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given was on pundit duties for BT Sport for the Aston Villa v Newcastle game on Saturday and after the game, the former Republic of Ireland stopper identified a couple of issues that went against Eddie Howe‘s boys at Villa Park.
Speaking after the game, Given said (via The Chronicle): “They’ve had a poor day at the office, you can put it down to that. But, you look at the table and it’s a little bit refreshing to see that Tottenham are still three points behind them and Newcastle have got a better goal difference.
“When it comes to today’s performance they were just off, they actually looked a bit tired. You try and look for reasons and excuses after the game for why they’ve played so poorly and they looked a bit off it.
“Tactically the team selection at the start of the game – [Anthony] Gordon coming in, they changed up the midfield with Joelinton coming in as well with [Sean] Longstaff on the bench for the first time in a while.
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“There’s little things like that but you can’t take it away from Aston Villa, they were absolutely brilliant and Ollie Watkins, what a performance he put in.”
Given claims the Magpies looked tired, a feeling shared by BT Sport co-commentator who labeled Newcastle as ‘sleepy’. However, Given also looks at the changes in the midfield and believes they may have also played a part.
Anthony Gordon made only his second start since his £45million move from Everton and Sean Longstaff was dropped to the bench. That meant that Joe Willock and Joelinton flanked Bruno Guimaraes in the middle of the park. There were a few players playing different roles and that perhaps contributed to the lack of cohesion in the team.
The tiredness is a much bigger issue, however. Newcastle came through a busy spell last week picking up maximum points from three games in six days, yet it was on Saturday at Villa Park that it all seemed to catch up with them.
Hopefully Eddie Howe can revitalise them for Tottenham’s visit on 23rd April.
After today’s performance, I’m expecting a Howe to be brave next week and maybe make a change in the back line swapping Dan Burn for Matt Targett. Many fans have been saying for a few weeks that Burn looks knackered. It could be time for a rest.
It’s going to be a long week for the players as Howe tries to get them ready for next week’s game.