This article forms part of our new feature, The Performance of the Week, where Nothing But Newcastle will analyse one key performance from the weekend’s action.
Newcastle’s draw against Tottenham was an awful spectacle. With no shots on target from open play and an xG of just 0.94 the miserable outing saw the Magpies described as ‘utterly grim‘ and ‘an absolute joy vacuum‘ by journalists on social media and, were it not for a controversial late penalty, the season’s second trip to the capital would have been a wasted exercise.
With that in mind, just like last week, picking out a performance of the week isn’t the easiest of tasks. While Karl Darlow rightly stuck out as perhaps the most important Newcastle player yesterday, a deeper look into the goalkeeper’s form across his starts this season is required, so Joelinton naturally emerges as the only other genuine option.
Indeed, while the Brazilian couldn’t replicate his heroics of Newcastle’s first visit to Tottenham’s new home, he certainly proved effective (well, as effective as a player could be in a counter-attacking team who don’t counter) as a hard-working, functional wide-forward. After all, that is the position some believe to have been his best during his time with Hoffenheim despite the insistence of playing him as a lone striker last term.
A £40m goalscorer he may not be but, yesterday, the 24-year-old he can offer something to the team. No Newcastle player attempted more dribbles, drew more fouls (including the late one that set-up the free-kick which led to the hand-ball) or won more aerial duels. Winning 6 of his 10 ground duels, Joelinton was functional rather than fantastic but, given the manner of his team’s performance, that’s not a bad thing.
If Newcastle can find a role for the forward as either a support striker or a focal point with runners off him (he averaged over one key pass a game during his stint in Germany, so does appear to have a touch of creativity in his locker) he will have the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser to find in the future, perhaps he can go some way into justifying at least some of his price tag.