The first back-to-back victory in months, an emphatic 1-4 win away to Tottenham no less, is a clear marker that the good times are set to return to Newcastle United.
Its been a torturous season for the Toon Army, and just as doubts began to creep in on the legitimacy of Kevin Keegan’s “messiah” tag, he brings us a sparkling performance of undoubtable class, humbling the pretentious Spurs on their own patch of grass.
Its been a while since i watched a game from start to finish. WoW, nights out with a loved one, or vegging out with MTV with her, there has been very little chance to watch a full match of football. And i’m tremendously glad i didn’t miss the performance last night: playing with a 3-pronged attack, with Owen deep in a forward role, supporting the two strikers, Martins and Viduka, Newcastle was a constant threat going forward. The passing was slick, on-the-ground, and very very fast. At times, it was like watching Arsenal play (minus the sublime accuracy).
Midfield was where Newcastle really shined, especially in the 2nd half. Nicky Butt totally dominated proceedings, and it was amazing how he seemed to be everywhere at once. Every time the ball was passed through midfield, it would invariably touch his feet. While his vision is limited (he isn’t exactly the world’s most creative player), his work-rate could not be questioned, and his successful tackles : fouls ratio would say heaps about what a great ball winner he was last night.
Defense was lethargic in the first half, and at times, Tottenham penetrated them all too easily. The Newcastle wingbacks, Beye and Enrique are not really defensive minded players, and got caught out of position often by Tottenham’s wingers; the fact that one goal came out of this really makes me wonder why Ramos didn’t stress the importance of winged attacks during the second half.
Man-of-the match: for me, it was Viduka. Some of the things he did smacked of total class. The fact that only a few paid off was probably due to his fellow forwards’ lack of vision rather than any fault of his own. Clever flicks, very strong hold-up play (ala Shearer!), and a creative drive that led to many dangerous attacks, were the hallmarks of his play last night. That wonderful backflick to Owen for the 3rd goal, sealed the game at a time when Tottenham could still come back. The vision to see Owen steaming in behind him, and have the presence of mind to flick the ball back into his path — thats the sort of stuff normally reserved for the Man Uniteds and Arsenals of the game.
Tremendous game, well worth the victory.