It may be Monday morning, but how good was yesterday? A mammoth win and one that could mean so much could the middle of May, with that having the potential to be the turning point in our push for Premier League survival over the next 3 months.
Any three points is going to feel big at this stage of the season, but here’s a few big plus points to take from yesterday’s win at St James’ Park:
Dubravka’s dream debut – the GK we’ve been crying out for?
His performance will be remembered by his string of saves that kept Man Utd at bay, but he looked much more than just an agile shot stopper. He was quick off his line, decisive and commanding from crosses and, quite crucially, he looked a solid kicker and a goalkeeper whose keen to get us playing out from the back quickly.
These are all traits Darlow has lacked, so it would be a huge boost if Benitez has found a goalkeeper who can immediately offer us a marked improvement in our first team. So far so good – he was thrown in at the deep-end and passed his test with flying colours. He’ll take huge confidence from that.
Shelvey MOM but Dubravka made the big difference. Huge improvement in what Newcastle have had in goal this season. #NEWMUN
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) February 11, 2018
Matt Ritchie off the mark and looking more like his old self
Last season it was Matt Ritchie who so often made us tick, so it’s no surprise that we’ve often lacked ideas and invention going forward when he’s looked so out of sorts.
Yesterday there was some really positive signs from him, however. Not only will he be boosted to have finally got off the mark, he’ll take confidence from a much more lively performance after looking a shadow of his former self in recent weeks and months.
A performance from Jonjo Shelvey unlike we’ve ever seen before
We’re aware that, on his day, Jonjo Shelvey can ping around passes for fun and run the show, but we’ve never seen him play with the discipline and controlled aggression that he showed in his mature and measured display yesterday.
He’s often been criticised for his work (or lack of it) off the ball, but yesterday he was tracking runs, tackling cleanly and battling for every ball. We know he’s got the talent, but it’s perhaps even more promising to see him doing the dirty stuff well.
Lascelles and Lejeune look a classy combo
He was exposed and looked a liability when playing alongside Clark prior to his injury, but Florian Lejeune looks like classy centre-back every time he plays alongside Jamaal Lascelles – and yesterday was another shining example.
Lascelles put in another monstrous display, but Lejeune’s performance was a real bonus. The skipper and the £8.7m summer signing look to compliment each other well and could keep Ciaran Clark out the team if they keep up that level of performance.
Jamaal Lascelles and Florian Lejeune as a pair:
– Five goals conceded in 622 minutes across eight appearances.
– One goal conceded in 207 minutes across three appearances against top-six sides.
— Ben Spratt (@bensprattjourn) February 11, 2018
A priceless 3 points to end the winless run at SJP
Prior to yesterday’s win, our last home victory at St James’ came from Mikel Merino’s late header against Crystal Palace back in October. We’ve been throwing away 1-0 leads or coming away with draws in games we could and should have won, so holding onto yesterday’s lead was a huge step towards getting our home form back on track.
It ends the unwanted run we’ve been desperate to end and will give the boys some much needed confidence ahead of the home games to come.