Following our 1-0 win at Swansea yesterday, we’ve taken a closer look at the performance and have came up with five big positives that can be taken from our latest crucial victory:
Mikel Merino masterclass
The Spaniard turned a few heads with his superb display in the 3-0 win over West Ham and he was outstanding again yesterday. He not only showed real coolness and quality on the ball, but showed real tenacity to win regain possession on several occasions, helping us to win the crucial midfield battle. He looks an absolute steal – an all rounder who looks at home in English football and real class act.
Lascelles leading by example
The NUFC captain had a mixed bag of performances last year – with some admittedly down to a niggling hernia problem – but he was absolutely monstrous at the back yesterday. He won his duels, showed improved distribution on the ball and read the game well, reacting superbly to a Tammy Abraham one on one as he sprinted to the line to clear his goal bound shot. His thumping header at the other end capped his towering display in style – a real captain’s performance and one that gives us healthy competition at centre-back, with Lejeune having just returned from injury.
Coping without Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey’s last act for NUFC may have been one of utter stupidity, but it must be said that the midfielder is one of our most talented and influential players. We struggled to get going in his absence last season, however the last two games have shown that we can cope without him. Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden are two tall and combative midfielders, but the pair are comfortable on the ball and capable of carrying it forward, with Merino having more than enough quality to do damage in the final third. The prospect of a Shelvey-Merino partnership is potentially mouth watering, but for now it’s a relief to see us cope without the former.
Joselu looks a handful
The Spaniard may not be the marquee signing many of us were hoping for this summer, but if his two starts against West Ham and Swansea are anything to go by, he’s a real handful who’ll give us something different. He came agonisingly close to putting us 1-0 up, seeing his glanced header superbly saved, whilst he won several flick ons and managed to get 6 efforts on goal – more than any other player on the pitch. It wasn’t a dazzling display, but i’ve seen enough to suggest he’ll be a useful buy at £5m.
Gamez – a short term solution at left-back?
With Dummett and Mbemba out, I had expected Clark or Manquillo to fill in at left-back yesterday, but was surprised to see forgotten man Jesus Gamez given the nod. It was just his 4th start for the club and his Premier League debut, however he was brilliant. He was solid defensively and contributed going forward with some clever passes and well time forays forward.