Dominant Magpies Too Strong For Stoke

Newcastle Make It 3 On The Spin As Potters Dispatched

If you are a Newcastle fan then I think there always has to be a bit of a pessimistic streak in you and after the 2 good wins over West Ham and Swansea had sparked our season into life I have to be honest the pessimist in me was well in truly in overdrive half expecting to be brought back down to earth rather than celebrating a 3rd win on the bounce.

Well how wrong could I have been on Saturday as a fantastic and deserved 2-1 win for the Magpies saw us record a 3rd straight win and took us to the heady heights of 4th in the league.

I will confidently say that Saturday was the first time I had actually enjoyed watching Newcastle play for probably a good couple of years at least.

Yes of course there were enjoyable moments last season as we won the Championship title but I have to say that most of the time watching us wasnt pretty and a bit of a chore at times. That isnt being overly critical of the manager or the team, they got the job done but every game just seemed a bit nervy and never quite done until the final whistle went.

To be fair that could also apply to Saturdays game as things got a bit nervy towards the end but the 80 or so minutes prior to that saw a dominant display from Newcastle that should have seen them win the game more comfortably but the performance was a joy to watch nonetheless.

The team just worked really hard from start to finish and for the first time in a long time there just looked to be a purposefulness and an intention to actually go out there and win the game for once, something that hasnt always been seen so far under the tenure of Rafa Benitez.

As ever there were changes from the manager despite the previous 2 games but they worked - Yedlin gave us some extra pace going forward, Mbemba returning offered us some extra help defending set pieces etc and Atsu gave us that pace and directness that Murphy didnt really take his chance to show at Swansea.

Once we were ahead early on with Atsu finishing off a lovely move that saw Ritchie put an inch perfect cross to the back post for him we controlled the rest of the half and former Stoke player Joselu had 2 golden chances and Lascelles another to put 2 or 3 final nails into Stokes coffin.

When Joselu then missed a 3rd golden chance straight after the restart then you did start to think we may pay the price and Stoke had their best period of the game culminating in an equaliser from the odious but dangerous Xherdan Shaqiri.

The suprising thing though was our reaction - you could see skipper Lascelles rallying the troops and there was a rare reaction from a Newcastle side where they didnt panic and looked to have a confidence that the game was still within their grasp and it was the skipper who once again clinched the win with a header from a corner almost identical to the one he scored the previous week.

We had to survive some expected late pressure with a couple of good stops from Elliot but overall I think we thoroughly deserved the win.

A lot was made about our lack of transfers but I think you can see that this has maybe helped spur this group of players on a bit to try and prove to a few people that all these better players Rafa apparently wanted were/are not needed.

The workrate of the side is just second to none at the moment which is undoubtedly the platform for this run of good results.

Ritchie sets the tone with this and probably edges the MOM award on the back of 2 assists but I thought Ayoze Perez was not far behind - this was one of the best games I have seen him have for Newcastle and he worked his socks off all game long which was great to see given some of the stick I have seen directed his way from some.

Once again I dont think anyone had a bad game - the misses from Joselu were obviously disappointing but I think it may have just been a case of him trying too hard to impress against his former club.

Bit of a cliche but you would be more worried if he wasnt getting the chances and I think he is one of those strikers where at least if he doesnt score you know he is still going to work hard and bring some positive aspects to our play in terms of winning headers and holding the ball up which he did.

Of course strikers a judged on goals ultimately so you wouldnt want to see that sort of wastefulness become a regular occurance but I think at the moment you can cut him a bit of slack and just put it down as an off day.

The good thing in that respect is that we have the likes of Gayle on the bench waiting for a chance and Mitro when he serves out the last game of his ban so despite the lack of transfers there is still some healthy competition for places at the moment.

We do have to be realistic however as there is a long way to go in the league and I think sometimes such a short way into the season you can push yourself into 4th place and some people start getting giddy.

Lets leave talk of Europe alone unless we still find ourselves in and around there in March or April, then we could maybe start dreaming.

At the end of the day the fixture list has been pretty kind to us so far and there are much tougher challenges to come - Stoke were certainly a much better side than both West Ham or Swansea so it was certainly a satisfying win but lets not kid ourselves here they are nowhere near a Manchester United, Manchester City or a Chelsea.

Teams like that with the players they have will offer much tougher examinations and would certainly punish any wastefulness like Saturday much more severely than Stoke did.

Yes of course enjoy every win and runs of wins like this in the Premier League dont always come around to often but I think the worst thing anyone associated with the club can do here is start getting ahead of ourselves as that is usually exactly the point that NUFC tend to come back down to earth with a bump!

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