After the game yesterday Rafa sounded like he did a few times at the beginning of the season when the team played against top-six opposition, but in the end, we had nothing to show for it regarding points.
That must change if we are to avoid a second relegation in four years this May.
The top six are way above the rest of the teams in the Premier League, but we must start winning games against the other 14 teams.
Sean Longstaff – held his own against world-class opposition
But Rafa had to be pleased with some of the performances yesterday with young Sean Longstaff and the returning Florian Lejeune catching the eye.
This is what Rafa said after the game as reported in the Chronicle:
“You could see a lot of positives with the performance but no points.”
“We knew that they would keep the ball and we had to maximize what we did when we got the ball.”
“We had some chances on the counter but our final pass wasn’t there.”
“We conceded a goal we could avoid but after that we were fighting for every ball. These players care, you could see that.”
“We scored and then controlled the last few minutes of the first half so it’s a pity, but a piece of quality made the difference.”
“The work rate was there, and the understanding of the game plan and what we wanted to do was also there.”
“We had chances at corners and scored, but they started the second half pushing.”
“We were defending, but Willian made the difference. After that, we had to keep pushing, but normally you are getting tired.”
“We were still in the game, but we had to be more open sometimes and go higher.” “When we gave the ball away, they had the chance to play on the counter-attack.”
“When you talk about the names they have, and the quality and the pace, that is normal.”
“In the end, it was quite positive in terms of the things we did and the way that we did it.”
For Sean Longstaff to make his first Premier League start for the club at Stamford Bridge and play so well shows that this lad is destined for a great future on Tyneside.
And hopefully, he will have Rafa Benitez to guide him for the next few years as he becomes a top player at Newcastle.
Florian Lejeune made his first Premier League start of the season, and he looked class in this game.
The Frenchman can solidify the defense for the remaining games, and it coincides with when he came back in last season around this time, and we started to pull away from the bottom three.
We also need to keep more clean sheets to maximize the chances of winning games.
Newcastle are currently 4 points behind where we were last season at this time (after 22 games), but it’s nothing that a few wins cannot put right.