‘A worrying trend’ - Inside Newcastle United’s defensive collapse at Leicester City

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Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United were brought back down to earth against Leicester City, with that dreaded R word back on supporters’ minds. Our writer Jordan Cronin takes a look at the main talking points from the 4-0 defeat at the King Power Stadium:

Individual errors

One individual error would have been bad enough. Four, however, is shocking, even by Newcastle’s low defensive standards this season.

Goal one: Jamaal Lascelles received the ball short but caved under pressure from Patson Daka. A hospital pass into Jonjo Shelvey was read by James Maddison, who won a penalty under the presence of Lascelles.

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Goal two: Clever flick by Maddison but Javier Manquillo was caught sleeping after playing Harvey Barnes onside. One pass and it was an open goal for Daka.

Goal three: Manquillo at fault again, along with Jacob Murphy with a pass that was intercepted by Timothy Castagne on the halfway line. Daka ran forward, found Tielemens, who fired home.

Goals four: Joelinton lost possession to Marc Albrighton. A quick interchange of passes between Maddison and Daka and the former made it four.

Basic stuff and time after time it is costing this Newcastle side. They are the making of their own downfall in this Premier League relegation fight. A worrying trend that must somehow be broken.

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The same defensive problems persist

Individual errors are nothing new for Newcastle, something Eddie Howe often can’t always legislate for. But even as a defensive unit this season, it’s been equally as painful.

The draw against Norwich City with 10 men and a clean sheet against Burnley offered hope United had turned a corner defensively, but Leicester threw that assumption out of the window. Could it be a blip? Perhaps that’s wishful thinking.

Before kick-off, Newcastle had averaged conceding two goals a game. With four goals shipped at the King Power Stadium, that average increased. Thirty four goals in 16 matches is grim viewing.

Just by matchday 32, Howe’s side are projected to concede 68 goals. Keep that up, and the club could be relegated before May.

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Making your own luck

Howe was quick to pick out Tielemens’ penalty as a contentious and key turning point in the game and to be fair, he had a strong point.

Was Maddison fouled by Lascelles? The Leicester man undoubtedly made the most of the minimal contact by throwing himself to the floor.

But it’s very difficult to argue in Lascelles’ favour when the United captain single-handedly put himself in that position to give referee Peter Bankes a decision to make.

Once Bankes blew for a penalty, you just knew VAR was never going to overturn it, and it completely changed the game.

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It was the sixth penalty Newcastle have given away this season - over half by Lascelles alone. Calls from supporters for their captain to be dropped and replaced by Federico Fernandez will only intensify.

For the majority of the first-half, Newcastle were the better side, even after going 1-0 down, and made a Leicester defence look like it was there for the taking.

A goalless scoreline at half-time and who knows what might have happened. That said, if, buts and maybes are virtually irrelevant right now.

Missed opportunity

It probably seems silly to say after a heavy defeat but it felt like a missed opportunity for United.

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Victory would have seen Howe’s side move level with 17th placed Watford but the gap is guaranteed to increase to at least four before the next game with Burnley hosting the Hornets on Wednesday evening.

Newcastle started the first 15 minutes strong at Leicester. The high press forced Leicester into errors. Caglar Soyuncu, in particular, was a bag of nerves as Jonny Evans was forced out very early doors.

However, Brendan Rodgers’ side settled and as a result, the visitors sat deeper and deeper.

The Foxes didn’t have to work hard for their goals. In truth, they didn’t look anything special.

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It wasn’t a 4-0 game. Incredibly, the Magpies had higher possession and more shots, but it’s telling that the closest they came to scoring was Castagne’s backpass that was frantically cleared off the line from Kasper Schmeichel.

It doesn’t get any easier

When you’re conceding four goals at Leicester, the attacking prowess of Liverpool and Manchester City is the last you want to come up against.

Yet Newcastle, given the position they’re in, must face it head on, with both clubs to play in less than 72 hours.

It’s hard to envisage United exiting the relegation zone before the New Year. Perhaps at this rate, the best Howe & Co can hope for is they at least remain in contention for survival.

A week after the win over Burnley and Tyneside is already back down to earth.

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