BBC pundit highlights area for improvement for Newcastle United debutant Chancel Mbemba

Newcastle United’s Chancel Mbemba made his competitive debut against Southampton.

Former Chelsea player Pat Nevin says that Newcastle United defender Chancel Mbemba was bullied in the air during his side’s 2-2 draw with Southampton, BBC Sport reports.

The DR Congo international centre-back was making his official debut for the Magpies after joining the club on a five-year deal this summer from Belgian outfit Anderlecht.

He was partnered by Argentine star Fabricio Coloccini and looked fairly assured at the back up against a solid Southampton side posing plenty of dangers.

However, his lack of height – Mbemba stands at 5ft 11inch – soon started to show as the much-taller Graziano Pelle began to win the majority of the aerial battles, prompting Nevin to comment.

"Chancel Mbemba, the players he's up against in the air are starting to bully him. He looks a good player, strong, but in the air he's giving away three inches. He's not able to cope with Southampton's aerial threat - especially not against Graziano Pelle,” the former Chelsea star explained to BBC Sport..

  Aerial Duels WonAerial Duels LostMins Played
Chancel Mbemba 2 4 90

As per the table provided by Opta Stats, Mbemba won just two of his six aerial duels and lost out to Pelle as the Italian striker headed home the opening goal of the contest.

The 21-year-old certainly won’t be the first to lose out in that department to the Saints’ striker, but it is an area which could cause him problems up against the more physical strikers.

The Premier League can be unforgiving in that aspect, therefore Geordies boss Steve McClaren has a key task in helping Mbemba overcome his lack of height with better positioning and anticipation.

Other than that, though, the Newcastle newcomer performed extremely well and showed on occasions exactly why the club put in so much effort to secure his signature.

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