Following on from the 3-3 draw against Manchester United on Tuesday it was a quick turnaround and back to St James Park for another match, which believe it or not was a 3pm Saturday kick off. It’s nice to know that those matches still actually exist. It’s been quite a long time since I have been looking forward to a match (let’s face it we have played awful football recently) but I really was up for this one yesterday.
I was very eager and excited to see how Jonjo Shelvey would fit into the side as found his signing earlier on in the week to be very positive and exactly what we have been missing this season. It didn’t take long for the new man to make an impact being involved in well pretty much everything good in the first half.
Something magical happened at St James Park Newcastle United were two goals up after 15 minutes of play, when on earth was the last time that happened? Not only that but the number of other chances created was fantastic and very positive as well. The score could have easily been 4 or 5 nil at half time.
The first goal was really a clever bit of play with some great link up between midfielders and strikers. Shelvey playing a positive forward pass (yes we have a central midfielder who plays it forward now) into Wijnaldum who took a clever touch to Perez who very cooly curled it into the bottom corner with a lovely finish.
It was a fantastic worked goal, but I feel that the second goal was even better. As Shelvey plays what we would call a hollywood place from a central position out to Janmaat who took a brilliant first touch past the defender and then crossing into the box, met perfectly by Wijnaldum. Eventually playing in the number 10 role showing that he really was wasted out wide. I had been annoyed in recent weeks about how poor he had been in that role, but away to Arsenal he showed that is the best place for him to be played. It seems he only loves scoring at St James Park at the moment as all of his goals have come at home. Let’s hope he doesn’t get shafted out to the wing again any time soon.
Did I mention that all happened in the first 15 minutes of the game? The first half continued with many more chances being created, just couldn’t get the quality right to get the ball in the back of the net again. West Ham didn’t offer very much at all and well looked pretty shell shocked with the opening exchanges. Not that the home fans were complaining in fact I think we were all very shell shocked as well. But I think it really shows how one player can make that massive difference. They were all pressing very high and not letting the visitors settle, I will admit that I was a little concerned about this as thought it would impact the second half, as no team can press high for 90 minutes. Surely just letting them play it around at the back would have been ok?
The second half was always going to be very different, as West Ham were always going to come out a little bit better than in the first half. While they did and some Newcastle players looked very tired already it was a mistake from Mbemba who didn’t even look to half heartedly play the ball blindly back to Elliot. It really was a bad mistake from a player who always puts a massive effort in, hopefully we will not see him do anything like that again. As Jelavic who had just come on for the second half easily slotted the ball away, won’t get many easy chances like that in the Premier League.
This made for a rather nerve-wracking final 35 minutes as we failed to put any more of the chances away. With West Ham almost nicking an equaliser around the 88th minute. A game which should have been very easily and clearly won was very difficult to watch in that second half, but the team showed good character to make sure we held onto the lead and come away with the first 3 points in five games. Massively deserved as well, we are now creating a lot of chances and the next step will be taking more of them.
I also feel I have to mention that Mitrovic had a very good game, as I have seen a lot of criticism thrown his way. He held the ball up at times that were needed, and waited to link up with the midfield. Making sure he did not lose possession, he had some good efforts on goal which were saved by the keeper. Yes he had a couple of tame shots as well, but was in the right position to at least try. I am a very big fan of his and hope his run in the team continues as I am sure he will get on a goalscoring run this season.
A very positive performance from the Newcastle side moving out of the relegation zone and hopefully this can become the start of a good run!