While the score may suggest otherwise, a grand total of zero shots on target for Albion shows the real ease of yesterday’s game.
An assured performance from a makeshift defence, an impressive home debut from Andros Townsend and a man of the match performance from Mitrovic meant anything other than three points would have been a travesty.
Here are my main talking points from the game:
Tiote back to his best?
With injuries in recent weeks to the likes of Vurnon Anita and Jack Colback, Tiote has been handed a chance in the central midfield role, and he has looked like the Tiote of old. Whenever he’s on the ball, you never feel as if he’s under control, but even with this unorthodox, and slightly worrying manner, he always finds a way to retain, or regain possession. With Jonjo Shelvey alongside him there is little to no pressure on the Ivorian to create, leaving him to do the dirty work, a job which he consistently does well and clearly enjoys, especially today in an unsurprisingly scrappy game against a trademark Tony Pulis side. If he can continue in this rich vein of form he will certainly silence his critics.
Does Aaron’s future lie at left back?
Even though West Brom offered very little going forward, Aarons’ performance today was not of a player who has a mere ten senior appearances for the first team. Based on yesterday’s display you wouldn’t think that he favours a more advanced position. Comfortable in possession, strong in the tackle and more than willing to provide an outlet going forward, Rolando has the makings of a future star at full back, especially with the way the modern game is developing. While we would love to see Rolando as a winger, with Sissoko seen as irreplaceable and Andros Townsend signing, Aarons’ future may well lie as a full back.
Mitrovic has to start, no doubt.
Mitrovic’s man of the match performance today showed just how vital the Serbian is in our fight for survival this season.
Once again, the ball always stuck at Mitro, his hold up play second to none on the day, spending 90 minutes single handedly bullying a back four of Olsson, McAuley, Dawson and Chester. At 21, his passion is incredible, and his ability to orchestrate a crowd of fifty thousand is incredible.
While he can be infuriating, missing far too many sitters, he took his chance as clinical as you like today, taking one touch and finishing with the second.
His hold up play is a necessity, and we would be lost without it as our tactics leave a lot to the imagination, and whether he plays as a lone striker or with a partner, there is no way we can continue without him week in week out.
Steven Taylor is more than good enough to cover for Mbemba.
Prior to the game, not too many fans would have been looking forward to the prospect of Anichebe handing out a battering to Taylor, but it turned out the complete opposite, with Taylor comfortably dealing with the Nigerian until his eventual substitution.
We all know that Taylor loves the club and has a great relationship with the fans, and his performance today only reinforced this. He certainly wears his heart on his sleeve.
While Albion attacked with no real pace, an aspect which played into the hands of Taylor and co, when called upon, Taylor was excellent, dealing with everything thrown at him throughout the game.
As we all know, he’s not the long term answer to our underlying defensive problems, however I’m sure that the Geordie faithful will be more than happy for him to cover in Mbemba’s absence.
What did you make of the game? Have Newcastle finally turned a corner?