Newcastle ended their pre-season campaign on a high by making easy-work of Italian Serie A side Hellas Verona. Scoring both of their goals in the opening 12 minutes Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu finding the net. And before I start the review I want to say that I don't think that you can judge how good or bad a certain player is because of this game, as Verona did absolutely nothing all game apart from the odd attack witch would always fail no matter what. They had no skill either and it looked like they had given in from the first whistle. The premier league is COMPLETELY different and players won't be in nowhere near the amount of space they had in this game.
It should also be noted that Dwight Gayle was not involved in the side because of yet ANOTHER hamstring injury, which also suggests that he may not be available against Spurs. The possibility of Gayle having yet another injury-filled season makes signing Lucas Perez (or another decent striker) seem even more necessary if we're going to stay up.
The starting 11 for this fixture was unchanged from last Wednesday's encounter with Wolfsburg VfL, and it didn't look like a change was needed either as just 4 minutes in, a pass onto the wing from Jonjo Shelvey followed by a cross from Javier Manquillo found Ayoze Perez who cleverly stuck a leg out to hit the ball into the opposite side of the net to make it 1-0 to the toon.
Newcastle could've made it 2-0 just 3 minutes later as a Christian Atsu cross found Aleksander Mitrovic who subsequently missed the target completely. Probably thinking that Brazillian goalkeeper Nicolas Andandre's flying fist was destined for his head.
It didn't matter though, as with 14 minutes on the clock, Newcastle back passed their way into their own half (after a Hellas Verona attack ended up being kicked out) before Jonjo Shelvey made a brilliant pass that was supposed to go to Aleksander Mitrovic, however he slipped over and the ball bounced to an unmarked Christian Atsu who slammed the ball into the top left corner of the net. Stretching Newcastle's lead to 2 goals to 0. The easiness of this goal however, just summed up how easy Newcastle found the entire 90 minutes. As only Mitrovic received any type of pressure from the Verona defense during the build up to this goal.
There seemed to be a lot of cheating going on with the opposition players. Including one player reacting to a fabulous Isaac Hayden slide tackle by staying on the ground lying flat out. The multiple dives featured classic Italian actions such as slamming their hand on the floor and holding their leg and rolling. These antics annoyed the home crowd and disrupted the flow of the game with the length of time that they were on the ground.
Newcastle had a few more chances in that half, Christian Atsu had a solo dribble down the left wing and advanced into the box before hitting a low cross to Ayoze Perez, his shot was poor given the chance he had and it was saved. Mitrovic also had a chance from outside of the box but the keeper caught it.
However, that's not saying that Hellas Verona didn't have ANY attacks in that half. Alessio Cerci had a long shot that went well wide. And, from a corner, striker Giampaolo Pazzini tried to flick the ball to a teammate in the box, but he only found Ciaran Clark who cleared his lines well.
The first half ended with Newcastle 2-0 up
In the 64th minute the match was disrupted as United once again made eight changes. The players who came on were Darlow, Merino, Aarons, Gamez, Mbemba, Diame, Lascelles and Murphy. These all came on for Elliot, Manquillo, Lejeune, Clark, Dummett, Shelvey, Atsu and Mitrović meaning that Newcastle would have to complete the game with no out and out striker.
A player who shone in those who came on was Rolando Aarons. Who almost scored within three minutes of coming on after he cut inside the defense and forced Andandre to make a good save.
Matt Ritchie also had his share of the attempts on goal. This time while playing as a No.10, as in the 71st minute, he chipped the ball up for himself and took an outside of the box volley destined for the left side of goal. But it was parried out for a corner.
Newcastle couldn't bag another goal despite all of the constant pressure in the second half with no out and out striker. Highlighting our striker problem. If Gayle gets injured again (very likely) and Mitrovic gets injured or suspended (still likely) then we will struggle to score goals. However, more times than not we will have a striker playing up top, but we need to think about signing another striker, especially Lucas Perez, as the fans want him and Rafa has personally said that he likes the look of the Arsenal striker. Our next game is Spurs at home on Sunday, 1:30PM. Lets hope we can replicate our 5-1 win against them that we gained the last time we played them, or at least something like that.