Old habits die hard for Newcastle United as Eddie Howe witnesses defensive horror show at Leicester City
Four goals conceded at Leicester City. All defensive errors. A common trend, and one that needs sorting.
The words to describe the Magpies’ defensive frailties are running out. That’s 34 goals conceded in 16 games. In the battle to secure top-flight safety, it’s clear where the problem lies.
Maybe the January transfer window is the chance to address that but before then, Eddie Howe’s side have Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Everton before day one.
A bright start, but Leicester respond
Howe’s side implemented a high press and forced the Foxes into early errors, with Caglar Soyuncu, in particular, a bag of nerves.
Wilson picked up a weak header by the Turkish international to send Miguel Almiron into the penalty box, who hit his shot into the side netting.
In that move, Leicester lost key defender Jonny Evans after three minutes, forcing midfielder Wilfred Ndidi to drop into centre-halve.
Soyuncu was soon involved again to deflect Wilson’s cross to Joelinton narrowly past Kasper Schmeichel’s far post.
From the resulting corner, Fabian Schar, deemed fit after a rib problem at the start of the week, saw a shot blocked by Ndidi.
When Allan Saint-Maximin gave the ball away twice in a minute, the home side grew stronger.
James Maddison’s free-kick was struck inches over before the attacking midfielder later delivered backpost, where Ndidi’s header needed dealing with by Martin Dubravka.
The first 15 minutes belonged to United, the next to Leicester. And once things had evened out, Howe’s side shot themselves in the foot.
Newcastle are the making of their own defensive downfall
Captain Jamaal Lascelles with another penalty conceded. How many is that for the season? Three of six from memory - Aston Villa away. Southampton home. Now Leicester.
Trying to play out from the back inside your own penalty area with a host of opposition bodies around is equally baffling.
Maddison, undoubtedly dived, which raises another question, what’s the point in VAR? But Newcastle and Lascelles were the victims of their own downfall as Youri Tielemans converted.
The same theme continued after the half-hour mark. Game over by minute 57.
Pass by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. Flick by Maddison. Harvey Barnes, played onside by Javier Manquillo, put it on a plate for Patson Daka. 2-0.
Yes, it really was that simple. Another defensive car crash manufactured by Newcastle United in 21/22.
After limiting Norwich City to chances with 10 men and earning a clean sheet, it was hoped United had turned a corner defensively.
But Leicester was a firm reminder that those issues still very much exist. With Liverpool and Manchester City next to come, well, you can only fear the worst.
Howe switched to a three-man defence as Jacob Murphy and Ryan Fraser, who played right-wing back and left-wing respectively, were introduced.
Murphy soon got involved. A low cross was directed off Schmeichel’s into Jonjo Shelvey’s path, whose shot was deflected over by Ndidi.
And if they were any kind of luck for United in this game, it was spared by Schmeichel as a backpass by Timothy Castagne was cleared off the line by the Dane.
But as the saying goes, you make your own luck and Newcastle, via their own defensive chaos, certainly aren’t.
A grim afternoon, compounded further by Tielemans and Maddison for 3-0 and 4-0. In the build-up to both goals, Murphy and Joelinton lost possession. Errors, errors and more errors.
Newcastle had looked much improved under Howe but caving in like that usually points towards relegation. It’ll take an almighty task to break that trend.
An opportunity wasted
That was an opportunity to draw level with 17th placed Watford blown.
The early stages offered promise. It was a Leicester defence that looked like it was there for the taking.
It wasn’t a 4-0 game but Newcastle’s awful defending made it that way.
For the 3,288 away fans, and those watching at home, it was a firm reminder that old habits die hard.
Failure to address that problem will see Newcastle United plummet into Championship.