Newcastle’s eagerly anticipated return to the Premier League was met with a slightly sobering defeat to Spurs, however there were some positives to take – three being the promising performances of Christian Atsu, Isaac Hayden and Mikel Merino.
The Ghanaian divided opinion in the Championship last season, leaving many to wonder whether he would be capable of making the Premier League step.
He has looked full of confidence throughout pre-season and has took that form into the new season if his display on Sunday was anything to go by.
Given our defensive set up, he often had little support but carried the ball well, took on his man on several occasions and was without doubt our most threatening outlet all afternoon. He also looked in very fit and kept running right until the end as we looked to cope with just 10 men.
It was Hayden’s Premier League debut and given the imposing midfield duo of Dier and Dembele that he was up against, I thought he coped very well and helped unsettle their attacks.
He got stuck in, retrieved possession on several occasions and looked fairly assured, giving little time for the majestic Moussa Dembele to make things happen.
A promising display from the former Arsenal man, especially given Jonjo Shelvey did very little to help him out.
The Spaniard only came on for the final 15 minutes but certainly added something to the side despite his brief cameo.
He looked well balanced, moved the ball quickly and pulled off some slick passes – making more successful passes in 15 minutes than Shelvey managed in his 60 minutes prior to his dismissal.
It’s hard to juddge him properly – at this point Spurs were 2-0 up and crusiing – but he certainly gave us something and his quality on the ball was there for all to see.