It was another winning header by captain Jamaal Lascelles from a Matt Ritchie corner that gave a good-looking Newcastle side all 3 points against Stoke this afternoon and at the time of writing Newcastle are in 4th place with 9 points from our 5 games with a goal difference of 2.
But Rafa will know he needs a lethal striker in January or next summer because after going ahead we missed some chances and the game could have been out of sight by early in the second half.
We haven’t yet fixed that problem from last season, but we are again creating the chances which is the most difficult thing in football.
After 57 minutes Swiss winger Shaqiri equalized to make it 1-1.
But then the crowd got right behind Newcastle, and the winning goal came on 68 minutes when another Matt Ritchie corner was headed in off the cross-bar by captain Jamaal Lascelles – his second successive winning goal from a corner.
But if we had another striker or two who could put the ball in the back of the net this game would have been a lot easier against a well-drilled and hard-working Stoke City side.
After an even opening period, Newcastle took the lead after 19 minutes, and it was an excellent Matt Ritchie cross from the right that found Atsu at the far post and the Ghanaian International hit it home on the volley from close range.
And then three minutes later captain Jamaal Lascelles should really have made it 2-0 when he got his head to a right-wing corner from Matt Ritchie inside the six-yard box, but the ball flashed by the post – a big miss by Newcastle at the time.
Then Rob Elliott made an excellent save from a good Shaqiri shot that was going into his top right-hand corner of the net.
Newcastle then carved out some good chances, but we couldn’t get that second goal with Joselu guilty of missing some decent chances against his former club.
Halftime came with Newcastle ahead 1-0 and having played well.
The Stoke goal came when Joe Allen found Shaqiri in space 25 yards out from goal after 57 minutes, and he moved forward before hitting a sweet left-foot drive just inside Rob Elliot’s post.
But then captain fantastic Jamaal Lascelles did it again and scored with a header after 68 minutes to make up for his earlier miss in the first half.
Rafa let his assistant manager Mikel Antia issue instructions to players from the touchline during the game as he is still recuperating from his surgery.
The Newcastle side again looked compact and well organized, and we are up to 4th place in the league table.
This is the first time since November 2013 that we have won three league games in a row in the Premier League.
It is also the first time we have won three of our first five games in the Premier League since the great Sir Bobby Robson was manager back in 2000-2001.
Back then we got 10 points from the first 5 games in Sit Bobby’s second season in charge before losing the next two.
Another terrific win and performance from the lads.
Newcastle: Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba; Hayden (Shelvey, 69), Merino; Ritchie, Perez (Diame, 86), Atsu; Joselu (Gayle, 78).
Subs not used: Woodman, Lejeune, Manquillo, Murphy.
Stoke: Butland; Zouma, Martins Indi, Wimmer; Diouf, Allen (Crouch, 84), Fletcher, Pieters; Jese (Sobhi, 62), Shaqiri; Choupo-Moting.
Subs not used: Grant, Johnson, Berahino, Tymon, Adam.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)