Newcastle United start the new year in abject misery after a disappointing result against Leicester City in the Premier League.
Steve Bruce's side may have entered the year on a high after their well deserved point against Liverpool, but they were very much back to their old, lethargic ways this afternoon.
The home side only managed 43% possession and a disappointing two shots on target during the game. The away side were certainly not at their best today, but they were able to capture all three points due to excellent strikes from James Maddison and Youri Tielemans.
Andy Carroll grabbed his first goal for Newcastle in over ten years, but his late volley proved to be nothing more than a consolation goal.
Both Leicester goals came as a result of poor marking
Steve Bruce will be irate at the fact that both goals for the away team were very much preventable.
During the build-up for the first goal, there were seven defenders camped in the Newcastle box. Not one of those defenders thought to pick up James Maddison, who stood in acres of space.
When Jamie Vardy found the midfielder with a cut-back, he had all the time in the world to compose himself before striking an fierce effort past Karl Darlow.
The case was much the same for the away side's winner. Jonjo Shelvey lost Tielemans entirely and the Belgian midfielder was left with time and space to arrow a long-range effort entirely.
Newcastle often pride themselves on their defensive resilience and Bruce will be bitterly disappointed with the errors made today.
Newcastle lack pace, creativity and discipline in midfield
Newcastle's desperation for a box-to-box midfielder became glaringly obvious as they were overran in midfield.
Matty Longstaff and Sean Longstaff looked a yard off the pace as the Leicester midfielders easily drove through the heart of the Newcastle midfield with ease.
Jonjo Shelvey's late introduction did more harm than good, due to his involvement in Leicester's second.
Going forward, the midfield did very little to create. Matty Longstaff managed one good delivery, but that was an isolated incident in a midfield performance filled with backward and sideways passes.
The midfield's lack of creativity is proven by the fact that Callum Wilson was limited to just 11 touches in the first-half. The 28-year-old is one the league’s most in-form strikers, but Newcastle’s approach means that he spends the majority of the game chasing shadows.
Steve Bruce will certainly be looking for a central midfielder in the transfer window this month.
Andy Carroll's goal acts as a solitary silver lining
Despite the poor performance, Newcastle fans will be delighted to see Andy Carroll on the scoresheet.
The goal ends a 39 game score-less streak for the injury prone front-man, whose left footed volley brought Newcastle back into the game late on.
Steve Bruce will also be pleased with the goal as it proves that Carroll still provides some utility off the bench late in games.
He's certainly a plan B option, but his presence can sometimes be invaluable to a side that lacks attacking intent. He at least means that the 'hit and hope' philosophy that Newcastle sometimes adopt can be successful.