Jetro Willems started his first Premier League game on Saturday, and it’s fair to say he was solid.
The Dutchman wasn’t exceptional, but he wasn’t a disaster either. It was certainly an improvement on his debut against Arsenal where he came on in the wrong position then made the key mistake that allowed the Gunners to score the only goal of the game.
And it’s a good job he’s improved, as we’ll be seeing a lot more of Willems over the next couple of months.
Matt Ritchie’s injury against Leicester has ruled him out for up to two months. This is bad news for the Magpies, but presents an opportunity to Willems.
Ritchie has often been the heartbeat of this Newcastle team since he arrived, and Willems certainly has big boots to fill. So just how did he do on his first league start?
The good and the bad of Jetro Willems
Let’s start with the positives. He’s certainly comfortable on the ball.
The defender used it well afternoon and always looked calm in possession. Like most Dutch players, Willems is technically sound. There must be something in the genes that gives them a natural ability to control a football and pass it with precision.
And his delivery into the box was also impressive and could be a real asset in Ritchie’s absence.
But while he brought quality on the ball, it’s fair to say that Willems doesn’t have the same engine or drive as our number 11.
Ritchie isn’t the quickest but he’s explosive. He sets the tempo. He’s an ‘angry little man’ according to Jonjo Shelvey, but in a good way.
It doesn’t look like Willems is the same kind of player. But he certainly brought some positives to the table and showed some good signs against Watford. He’s no Matt Ritchie, but Jetro Willems can certainly fill the void in his own way over the next couple of months.