There’s no doubt that Newcastle United’s 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Monday night was a hugely dispiriting result for Steve Bruce’s side.
The Magpies failed to get into the game, they were dictated to by the hosts at Villa Park, and they didn’t deserve to get anything from the game.
That’s certainly the verdict of Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who told The Chronicle: “We are disappointed because we lost the game, but also how we lost it. We did not do enough. We gave them so much space and did not keep the ball.”
That’s a pretty accurate assessment of the contest from the Slovakian international. He’s right that the Villans were given too much space, and he’s spot on that Newcastle didn’t keep the ball well enough.
Perhaps with that last line – about not keeping possession – the ‘keeper may be pointing the finger at Magpies midfielder Jonjo Shelvey somewhat.
If it’s anyone’s job in this Newcastle team to keep the ball and to use it well, then it’s Shelvey. He is the most technically-gifted player at the club and so the responsibility falls on his shoulders to attempt to dictate the tempo of games, which he did really well against West Ham United and Bournemouth previously.
The statistics show that Shelvey really struggled on Monday. As per WhoScored.com, the 27-year-old produced 51 passes, but only 78.4% of them found their intended target. That’s a really poor number for someone of Shelvey’s calibre.
He also made seven crosses, but only one of them was actually accurate. Then there’s his long balls forward, just 10 were good out of the 17 he attempted.
So while Dubravka didn’t mention Shelvey specifically, his comments have pointed the finger at the Englishman as one of the main causes of the team’s defeat on Monday.