A few observations from NUFC’s first game under Eddie Howe – Anyone else feeling pretty positive?

There was so much confidence and anticipation going into the Brentford match on Saturday. But ultimately we couldn’t nick the three points we probably deserved and ended up with yet another draw.

The result was disappointing, and that first win is beginning to feel ever more elusive. We were buoyed, though, by dramatically improved football.

I wondered how much impact Howe could have from his faraway hotel room. As it turns out, a lot.

From the minute the whistle blew, we were on the front foot. It only took ten minutes to get a goal, and the place erupted. I’m used to shouting my face off at the match, but in that moment I genuinely thought I’d ripped my throat.

It all came crumbling down barely a minute later when Ivan Toney (who else?) equalised for Brentford.

I couldn’t help but let out a stunned laugh, because it was so typically Newcastle United.

We weren’t laughing, though, when Rico Henry’s goal gave Brentford the lead.

We’ve already had a few fairytale moments ruined in recent weeks. Was this one going to be too?

Celebrating Joelinton’s goal was wild, and certainly a fairytale moment they couldn’t take away from us. I’ve been critical of him, and he’ll never justify that £40 million price tag, but he also wasn’t the one charging or paying it. I can’t think of a player more deserving of a goal that day.

Lascelles’ own goal was another gut punch – I’m getting used to them at the minute – but it was limbs all owa when Maxi equalised.

For the past two years, we’ve rarely come back from losing positions. Never mind doing it twice in one match.

That’s one of the biggest positives I can take out of Saturday’s match – and indeed two under Graeme Jones – because it highlights our massive shift in mentality.

No longer are heads dropping when we concede. No longer are we sitting back and asking to be attacked when we take the lead. No longer are we throttling our attacking players.

The defence is still a worry, but our response to conceding has been outstanding.

The stats are also massively encouraging. Almost remarkably, Saturday was the first time we had the lion’s share of possession all season. We also scored three goals in a competitive match for the first time since May.

We attacked for fun, and it was a genuine joy to watch. To see Wilson and Saint-Maximin freed from their defensive shackles and allowed to do what they do best – terrorise defences. Joelinton moved quickly and cleverly, Willock made smart moves, and Shelvey was massively improved (if not quite at the level he’ll supposedly reach under Howe). Murphy might have been non-existent for Brentford’s second, but he was excellent going forward. Substitute Ryan Fraser created the move that led to our third goal.

We’ve known for a long time the potential we have in attack. We know we have players who can bomb forward and create chances. We know some of them are canny good at scoring, too. It’s amazing to see us play to their strengths now, and it’s what we should have been doing all along.

We had a massive 23 shots – a season high – and nine of which were on target. That equates to almost a quarter of all our shots on target so far this season.

We played more passes into the box, and had more touches in the box than in any other game this season. Truthfully, we were part unlucky not to win, but part too lax in defence. That said, if Dubravka was in goal last weekend I believe we win that game.

Arsenal will be a toughie. And, seeing as I’m not there for once, we’ve probably got a solid chance of picking up three points.

One thing I know we’ll do is give them a good game.

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