Rafael Benitez "not happy" with Brighton & Hove Albion stalemate

Wilson grounds Seagulls in pulsating clash

The year ended on a dour note for Newcastle and Brighton as they played out to an uninspiring 0-0 draw at St James' Park on Saturday.

Next up for Newcastle is a trip to fellow strugglers Stoke City in less than 48 hours' time.

Here are four talking points from a worrying afternoon for Rafa Benitez.

Newcastle lost 1-0 to Manchester City on Wednesday, a surprising result given City's dominance this season. Benitez responded by picking a very attacking side; Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu both came back into the side.

Sure enough, there were seven changes to the team that played City, only one of which was enforced. A catastrophe was avoided and that is about the best thing you can say about it. Honours even, blushes spared.

It has been an issue for quite some time, but on the final game before the opening of the January transfer window, it reared its head once again. They were controlling the tempo of the game, it is a pity but at least the team was fighting. "They know that these players are giving everything". They don't take any responsibility and they can make mistakes and the day after, it doesn't matter. Nearly every game this season has been on a knife-edge for the Magpies, and with some crucial games coming up and finding a player who can unlock doors could make the world of difference. In their last game, manager Chris Hughton opted to start Glenn Murray and Pascal Groß on the bench. Krul has not had many opportunities this season and it was proven why today. In the second half we had more chances, we were pushing hard. He had been receiving some criticism in recent weeks but did himself justice with two fantastic saves.

Ryan made an outstanding reaction save on a deflected Isaac Hayden effort, and Jamaal Lascelles headed the ensuing corner wide of the near post.

Newcastle United had most of the ball but struggled to connect with crosses or scoop up loose chances in the 18.

It ends goalless at St. James' Park and both sides are forced to settle for a point.

Nevertheless, given they were the home team playing against another newly promoted side, Newcastle needed a win to offer some firm evidence of their ability to pull clear of the drop zone.

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