Against Tottenham Hotspur, this Newcastle squad can consider themselves unfortunate to extend their losing streak to three consecutive Premier League matches.
Jose Mourinho’s side had fewer than half of the hots’ 22 shots during the 3-1 defeat, and despite continuing their pointless run, there were sparks of promise for the Magpies, including Matt Ritchie’s rasping drive to level the scores.
Though the player who shone brightest of all was, once again, Allan Saint-Maximin, the French wing wizard consistently offered an attacking option for others against Spurs, but equally proved he could combat the opposition singlehandedly recording a massive 11 dribbles. Mourinho’s side simply could not contain him, and they were forced to chop the 23-year-old midfielder down on five occasions.
Furthermore, no player completed more key passes than Saint-Maximin’s three, level with Jonjo Shelvey, Ritchie and Miguel Almiron, highlighting how Newcastle were unlucky not to escape with at least a point. The winger consistently carried the Magpies’ greatest attacking threat, which included taking six shots, with three hitting the target, again the most of any player on the pitch. Still, he was unable to beat compatriot Hugo Lloris.
Given the difficulty of some of the passes Saint-Maximin attempted, including five accurate long passes, he retained an impressive 87.8 pass accuracy, epitomising his reliability in possession. When being frustrated by the opposition, it is easy to concede the ball cheaply in an attempt to force attacking scenarios, but the winger was not sucked into that trap.
Ultimately Saint-Maximin was unsuccessful in his attempts to end Newcastle’s barren run, but this display, along with multiple others, highlight why he should not be allowed to go in the summer, at any price. In just one season the former Nice player has become one of the Toon’s most consistent attacking performers, and no Newcastle player has been involved in more goals than his seven in the Premier League this season.
Even when Steve Bruce’s side have appeared totally out of games this season, Saint-Maximin provides the ultimate counterpunch with his rapid transitions and dribbling ability, which has left him second only to Lionel Messi and Adama Traore in Europe.
After taking until December to provide a goal, in the second half of the campaign, the French winger has adapted to the Premier League and stratospherically increased his end product, contributing three goals and five assists in 2020. He is a fundamental feature of Newcastle’s attack and dismantling the forward line by selling him this summer would be a criminal error to make.