Five talking points from Rafael Benitez's first game in charge of Newcastle

Newcastle Celebration

Newcastle United lost 1-0 to Leicester City on Monday night.

Defensive improvement

Newcastle were torn apart by a rampant Bournemouth side last time out, and their defence were all at sea as they shipped three goals. Against Leicester though, the Magpies limited them to just one shot on target - the goal - and didn't allow Jamie Vardy to cause them too many problems. Benitez had his side far more organised, and but for a soft free kick award, they may have come away from the King Power Stadium with a clean sheet. There's still work to do, but this was a start.

Goalscoring remains a problem

With just seven goals scored away from home all season, it's no secret that Newcastle are struggling to find the net. Aleksandar Mitrovic played up front on his own but got little joy out of the Leicester defence, and Ayoze Perez should have done better with an early chance. Substitutes Siem de Jong and Seydou Doumbia didn't fare much better, and Benitez may have to consider switching from 4-2-3-1 to system with two strikers in order to offer Mitrovic more support.

The Wijnaldum Conundrum

Another away game, another no-show from Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutch international is clearly a very talented player, as his nine goals have shown this season. Curiously, none of those goals have come away from home, and he has been criticised for his performances away from Tyneside. It's a bizarre situation, but Benitez must try and get more out of Wijnaldum on the road after another quiet display against Leicester.

Sunday's clash with Sunderland is huge

Any Tyne-Wear derby is a highlight of the football calendar, but this one is of heightened importance. Sunderland lie outside of the relegation places, but just one point clear of Newcastle, meaning the three points on offer are vital. Benitez has had his first game in charge and has learnt more about his squad, but he must make sure that his side are geared up and ready for the biggest game of the season, as anything less than a win would be a disappointment.

Enough encouragement on show

Ultimately, Newcastle came away from Leicester empty-handed, like most expected against the league leaders. Yet, this was a much improved Newcastle display from the one against Bournemouth, and fans saw enough encouragement from some players to suggest that survival under Benitez really is possible. This far from the finished article for Benitez, and the players should get more and more comfortable under him, but this was a performance which showed that, with better finishing, Newcastle can rally in the final nine games and beat the drop under Benitez.

What did you think of Newcastle's performance against Leicester?

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