Vurnon Anita struggled a bit last season as the 5’6″ midfielder was trying to come to terms with the very physical nature of the Premier League in England.
Vurnon Anita – I scored – being congratulated by Paul Dummett
We never thought his stature would be any barrier in the Premier League,because after all the greatest player in the world today – Lionel Messi – is only one centimeter taller than Vurnon at 169 cm.
But even as he was coming to terms with English football, the 24 year-old 3 times capped Dutch International still managed to make 35 appearances for the side last season.
We had a lot more games because of the 14 extra games we had in the Europa League.
But Vurnon is now coming into his own this season, and he will get a great chance to form a central midfield partnership with Cheick Tiote – and it worked very well indeed on Saturday as Newcastle completely dominated midfield.
This season Vurnon has made 27 appearances for the first team, with 24 of them coming in the Premier League and his goal on Saturday equals the goal haul he had last season.
And his emergence this season shows that players need time to settle down when they come from abroad, and even Mathieu Debuchy found it difficult at times last season, and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is still getting to terms with the English game.
Vurnon is a good example of how the club needs to be patient with new arrivals, and Luuk de Jong for example will become a much better player once he has more time to settle down.
Loic and Luuk up front on Saturday looked like an excellent strike pair, although Luuk needs to get some goals.
But with all our players now fit and available, and Vurnon showing he may be able to fill in well for the departed Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle could become the surprise team in the last 10 games of the season.
And as we pointed out earlier today we are just one point off our pace of two years ago after 28 games played, when we finished 5th, - so maybe can equal the 65 points we picked up then.
With Vurnon continuing to play like he did on Saturday, that’s very possible.
Howay The Lads!!
Note: James Sands is a long time reader of the blog, and he is running the Brighton marathon on April 9th on behalf of the Stroke Association – James’ target is £750 in donations, which can be made here – please help if you can.