An excellent result and mostly excellent performance. Few teams will be better organised than Benitez’s motley XI and an away win against a top ten team from last season first time out deserves plaudits.
It was an entertaining encounter with a good tempo, good enough that at the time it seemed very unlikely that Dele’s eighteenth minute goal would be the last of the game. And it so very nearly wasn’t.
Sanchez should have scored from a corner, twice, Dele mistimed his contact with a cross, Sissoko’s effort was met with a good block, whilst at the other end Hugo saved well at the feet of Kenedy, parried from Perez, and Diame and Rondon hit the woodwork; the first with a slash, the second a deflection.
It was a good game, as I said, and a high quality one as well. Kenedy, Shelvey and Ritchie looked a skilful combination and whilst Eriksen and Dier were excellent in midfield, Aurier and Sissoko struggled. Tripper has no worries about getting his position back based on this performance, Winks neither.
Poch’s decision to start Harry, Dele, Dier, Hugo and Vertonghen from the kick off was justified by the efforts it took to win, but the tiredness in some legs was obvious.
We pushed Newcastle back for almost all of the first half but they came back in the second. Pochettino’s decision to bring on Dembele was a game-winning one, the home team lost influence after he came on and Sissoko was sent wide. If he retains this role of successfully closing out games for the season, his legend will live on.
Dele Alli was superb. He looked slow and lost possession too often at first but then was non stop class, his winning header was trademark. He dominated Yedlin and whoever else he was up against on his side.
Jan Vertonghen also was outstanding with Dier, Davies, Lloris and Eriksen not far behind.
Those hoping for a breakout season from Moura would have been disappointed with his lack of definitive impact, he did play well though and will be a strong addition to the attacking rotation this winter.
Kane should go on holiday for a month.
It should not be forgotten that this was the ground where we suffered that humiliating thrashing three years ago, to return twice and squish the locals early season optimism both times since is to our great credit.
Fulham next week.
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