It was a big chance for players who have rarely played this season to show Rafa Benitez what they can do and a few players in particular put in some very good performances.
The first was Daryl Murphy who Rafa keeps saying is very positive for the squad and is simply a terrific professional.
Daryl showed what he can do for the side yesterday as he scored his first goal for the club and looked a good player who worked his socks off for the cause – no wonder Benitez likes him.
Daryl Murphy after scoring yesterday
Daryl has hardly played all season, but we haven’t heard a squeak of complaint from him and after this performance he will get more starts for Newcastle and hopefully have Dwight Gayle alongside him – the two of them could be a great partnership up front for Newcastle.
Rafa played a 3-5-2 system yesterday with Mitro and Daryl up front and he could maybe duplicate that system by also playing Murphy and Gayle up front – it’s at least worth a try.
Daryl is our Man of the Match with 36% of the vote.
Next in line is Achraf Lazaar who got a rare start in the team but showed he has pace and skill as a wing-back and he was very prominent for Newcastle, especially in the first half when we were attacking more.
It seems this lad’s best position at Newcastle will be as a winger and with Rolando Aarons injured and Christian Atsu away at the Africa Cup of Nations he should get more playing time in the weeks ahead.
Lazaar got 16% of the vote.
Next in line is a sympathy vote for Mitro, but the really great news this morning is that he needs just 10 days rest and he will be playing again.
DeAndre Yedlin looked perfect as a wing back yesterday and this lad has some speed down the wing and always looks so dangerous – so with Lazaar and Yedlin looking good down the wings why would we need another winger brought in this month?
Maybe what we need a conventional full back who can play on either side?
One of the surprises this season is that Grant Hanley has not played too much football, but the Scottish International is a no nonsense center-back who had a good game and looked comfortable alongside captain Jamaal Lascelles at the back.
He came in for Ciaran Clark who has been great for us this season, so there’s real competition for those two center-back positions.
It would be good to see Grant get more playing time through the rest of the season and he can yet have a future at Newcastle – he had a good game yesterday and looked the part.