After a horrendous thrashing from Brighton, a dire undeserved point at Spurs and just avoiding an embarrassing upset at Newport we perhaps should have expected a good, solid home win against Burnley.
Such is the way of NUFC. Consistent in their inconsistency!
So, right now, we’re sixth in The Premiership and in the Quarter-Final of The Carabao Cup. Hard to believe after some of the performances we’ve put in and some of the criticism that surrounds the Manager and the team.
But there’s no point in getting complacent or thinking we’re out of the woods. We need more performances like this and for it to become our norm. ASM and Canny Callum will no doubt get the deserved plaudits but Saturday night saw plenty others play well and put in a real shift as well.
Joelinton looked as good as he ever has at SJP. Much more confident and comfortable in that no.10 role just behind striker. He far prefers the game ahead of him! Definitely starting to look like a Premiership player albeit not a £40m one.
He’s been our best outfield player in recent weeks and he backed that up with a much improved performance. Who knew he’d look much better in his best position with options around him!
Krafth probably had his best game for us. Showed a strong engine getting up and down the right flank all game and made some key interventions and sensible decisions when switched to Centre Back.
Fernandez dealt with so much in the air against two big, physical strikers. He’s often a rock for us solid, dependable, and not flash but rarely has an off day. Yes, I’d like him to be more commanding but he was very decent here.
Darlow is proving a very capable deputy for Dubs at the moment. Given the performances of Pickford and Pope yesterday he’s done himself no harm at all in the eyes of many in the last couple of weeks.
He looks better from crosses; has always been a good shot-stopper and it was good to see him put in another solid showing. I think we all feared when Dubravka got injured but he’s done anything but let us down so far!
Shelvey much more mature too. Balls in behind for Wilson and a few good crosses which Hendrick / Wilson would’ve scored from on another day. More measured, worked harder and maybe thrived with captain’s armband. A much better player when he does the simple things first and foremost as he can do them with style and then open up once he’s in command of the game. A million miles better than Wednesday but has to start doing it consistently.
Hayden was Hayden as always. Covering here there and everywhere and even playing it about with consistent regularity. He’s the heartbeat of the side for me and one of those players you really need in your side in these modern days.
It wasn’t the easiest or best of games for Hendrick particularly against his old team that he’s not long left and he didn’t always look great on the eye, but he never stopped running. He’s not a winger and never will be really, but he covered a lot of ground and filled in well.
He’ll be a good one to have around the squad that’s for sure as he clearly understands and appreciates what is needed in the Premier League.
Not forgetting Lewis of course who continues to look like a great bit of business as he grows and thrives in his role at the Club. For me he’s destined to be a real quality star at his position and one that could be around for a long time.
So, plenty of positives from Saturday night. Yes, games today may well see us drop a few places but from what we’ve seen there’s more than enough to keep us bubbling away all season if the Manager gets it right with selection, formation, and tactics!
That said I’m off to watch Transfer Centre as you never know what might happen!