A huge effort and another big point to add to our tally – what we lacked in possession we made up for in organisation and spirit!
Rafa surprised a few before kick off, starting the slightly more forward thinking Shelvey and Manquillo ahead of Hayden and Mbemba.
Initially I worried if it would be a mistake to try and go toe to toe with a superior attacking force in Liverpool, but Shelvey’s involvement ended up being justified.
He may have allowed Coutinho to cut inside and fire in a 25-year opener, but it was his eye of the needle pass that put Joselu in behind for the equaliser. It was a moment of huge significance for the Spaniard, who needed a goal to give him a much needed boost after a string of big misses in recent weeks.
Liverpool were a little wasteful and will come away frustrated they didn’t get all three points, but that takes nothing away from our disciplined and determined display.
Yedlin was outstanding, putting in one of his best defensive displays in black and white. He kept the electric Sadio Mane quiet for the most part, whilst Jamaal Lascelles may not have been the match winner on this occasion, but it’s was perhaps even more positive to see him put in such a mature and solid defensive performance. His partnership alongside Ciaran Clark looks anything but out of depth in the top flight, despite some fearing over the summer it would fall short.
I’ve rarely seen a Newcastle team so hardworking, organised and disciplined as this current side. A sure proof sign that the lads are listening to Benitez and taking to the challenge of living up to his high standards week in week out. We may never take a team to the cleaners this season, but I sense we’ll rarely be beaten easily. We’re yet to concede more than 1 in a game since Spurs (where we only conceded when we had 10 men) and this is proof of our determined and diligent defensive work thus far.
There was a good atmosphere around St James’ today, with Gallowgate Flags doing yet another fantastic job to give everyone a lift. That passion and positivity rubbed off on the players perfectly too, helping us to a hard fought and well earned point that sees us head into the international break in 9th.
Well done lads!
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