Hayden reflects on 'nearly performance'
Written by Rory Mitchinson
Isaac Hayden didn’t feel there was a lot between Newcastle United and Arsenal as the Magpies suffered a narrow defeat on the opening weekend of the Premier League campaign.
A solitary strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – one of the top-flight’s three joint-top goalscorers last season – proved enough to clinch victory for Unai Emery’s side at St. James’ Park.
The Magpies, arguably, had shaded a tight first half – with Jonjo Shelvey seeing a deflected strike clip the post – but offered little after falling behind.
Hayden, however, thought there were some encouraging signs for Steve Bruce’s side, insisting that the Magpies are heading in the right direction after a summer of change – both on and off the pitch.
“I thought we ran them close,” the midfielder told nufc.co.uk. “I thought we had the better of the chances, really, during the game. But, against a top-six club in the Premier League, if you make one mistake – or if they have one half chance – they’re going to make the most of it.
“But credit to the lads, I think it was one of those ‘nearly performances’. I think we’ve had quite a few of those over the last couple of years but there’s definitely progress. Hopefully the fans can see from the club’s perspective that the players that they’ve brought in – and the players that are here – have progressed. It was a new formation, a new style of play and I think it suited the team today.
“I think it’s going to take time. Unfortunately, in football, you don’t seem to get much time. The new manager’s come in – it’s going to take time to get used to him for a lot of the players – and there’s a new formation as well as new players coming in. There’s a lot of change at the football club but, you know, as the weeks go on I think you’ll start to see the benefit of it. Even today, you saw the benefit of it. It was a good performance, lacking slightly in the final pass or taking a bit more care on the ball. But, in general – especially against a top-six side – I thought it was quite a good performance.”
For the third year in a row, United take on a newly-promoted side away from home in their second game of the campaign, with Norwich City – beaten 4-1 by Liverpool on Friday night – lying in wait.
“It’ll be a tough game. I watched Norwich on Friday and they played some good stuff,” said Hayden. “They’ll be wanting to bounce back from their defeat and they’ll be raring to go. It’s their first Premier League game back at home and we’re under no illusions – every game’s tough, and it’s just up to us to prepare this week, do the right things and go from there.”
"I think it was one of those ‘nearly performances’. I think we’ve had quite a few of those over the last couple of years but there’s definitely progress."