The start of the season wasn’t easy for Jamaal Lascelles.
He was on the back of being touted for England by supporters, but struggled to get back to his best. He was even dropped for the home defeat against Chelsea.
The captain has had a few shaky moments at the back, but in recent weeks has been back to his best. Rafa Benitez has found the perfect system for his centre-backs, particularly Lascelles.
The former Nottingham Forest man isn’t the most gifted with the ball at his feet, but now he doesn’t need to be. Both Fabian Schar and Florian Lejeune excel with the ball at their feet, taking the pressure off Lascelles to play out from the back himself.
The 25-year-old is much more of an old fashioned centre-back, and he proved that against Burnley.
Lascelles deals with hoof-ball
All the Clarets were interested in doing was pumping it long to either Ashley Barnes or Chris Wood. It’s not pretty, but it can be effective if the defenders they’re up against aren’t up to the task.
Fortunately, Newcastle’s trio was, and Lascelles epitomised that. He was a leader last night, proving why he got the armband in 2016.
Pretty much everything that came his way, the headed clear. He protected his teammates, getting in the faces of the Burnley bench after the ball was fired at an injured Schar. Then he did the same to James Tarkowski after the Clarets’ number five angrily reacted to Joselu going down after a foul.
He’s the least talked about of Newcastle’s settled back three, but Lascelles deserves credit for getting back to his best. This was a captain’s performance.