Newcastle’s troubling 1-0 defeat to Brighton has left fans bemused and frustrated at the ineffectiveness of forwards Yoshinori Muto and Ayoze Perez.
Newcastle dominated the match at St. James’ park on Saturday but were unable to find the back of the net despite 27 shots. The fact only six of those were on target is a sad indicator of the Toon’s lack of quality finishers.
Perez and Muto had impressed a fortnight ago in Newcastle’s unfortunate defeat at Old Trafford, but their partnership failed to have the same effect against a defensive Brighton side.
The two forwards both missed glaring opportunities to score, opportunities they cannot afford to miss given Newcastle’s current position.
A fantastic interception by Jonjo Shelvey in the opening five minutes left Perez one-on-one with Mat Ryan, but the Spaniard fired his effort straight at the Brighton keeper.
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Muto then later missed an open goal when a Shelvey shot was palmed into his path, his resulting header drifting agonisingly over the bar.
What was particularly frustrating about the match was that Newcastle repeatedly crossed the ball into the box rather than playing through the middle.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that Perez and Muto aren’t going to be challenging many centre-backs for a header.
Either the tactics need to change or one of Muto or Perez needs to be replaced for a focal point who can lead the line.
Although Rondon and Joselu aren’t exactly target men who promise goals, they would at least tactically make more sense given Newcastle’s tendency to play route-one football.
But who should lose their place once Rondon is fit?
Perez or Muto?
Fans have long been critical of Perez and he will be a popular choice to lose his starting spot.
Muto has not had enough game time for fans to truly judge his finishing, but he certainly seems to offer more than Perez in his general play.
Rafa Benitez’s decision to replace Muto for Joselu in the 74th minute was even booed by the majority of St. James’ Park.
The Japanese striker shows good ball retention and is often able to maintain possession for other players to get forward. Perez seems to struggle with this and many attacks break down after he fails to keep the ball in midfield.
Muto also works hard for the team and was often seen defending far too deep during the Brighton game when he was meant to be leading the line.
But Newcastle desperately need a player who can link their deep lying midfield with their striker.
Perhaps the team would benefit more with Muto playing in that role rather than Perez.