Six weeks ago, when sizing up our fixtures, the game with Newcastle was always the one that I was most worried about. Not the trip to the Etihad, not the visit of Chelsea, Newcastle away. Why? Well the influx of Saudi oil money has turned them into a force this year. And last years defeat at their hands stung and in all honestly we were well beaten. But Sundays performance put things into perspective a bit. A game decided by fine margins but with the right result at the end.
As always in football, matches are simply moments in time, often decided by a hair’s bredth. They show where a club is and occasionally give you a glimpse into the future. The sunny Sunday at St James’ Park did that for both teams. We are second in the league, they are third and we’re well clear of them. Aside from the first few minutes that was exactly what showed on the pitch.
You ride your luck in football sometimes and you can argue we did that in the opening exchanges when Newcastle hit the post then had a dubious penalty overturned (correctly) but then we turned it on. Jorginho set the tempo and put in one of “those” performances that we were told he was capable of when he arrived. He was brilliant. As was Odegaard who scored AGAIN with a brilliant low shot into the bottom corner after Jorginho laid it off for him. The noise from away end was sensational, as it was all game. Anyone who has been to St. James’ Park knows that you have to contend with what feels like 30,000 steps to reach the away end. You are very much ‘in the Gods’. But the travelling support was loud, proud and by the end, jubilant with a job well done.
As the second half begun Newcastle came tearing out the blocks hitting the post for a second time before Schar’s towering header produced one of the best saves you’ll see all year from Ramsdale. Getting down to his right to prevent a certain goal and from there on the momentum shifted. Martinelli clipped the bar at the other end before the decisive second goal. Schar who was his usual thuggish self could do nothing more than turn Martinelli’s cross into his own net. Fine margins. Beautiful. From there on there was only one winner.
It was a truly excellent performance from a team that are proving a point. We aren’t going anywhere. I can’t see City dropping points in their remaining games but if they do we’ll be right behind them. Three to go, onto Brighton.