After walking over Crystal Palace last week, I think everyone was expecting a wily Newcastle United side under the management of Rafa Benitez to be a much more difficult task. However, Town found a way to win and maintained their 100% record in the Premier League.
In this piece, I give my post-match thoughts and run through some of the major talking points to discuss.
Players in Focus
Aaron Mooy – Effective on the extremities
It comes as no surprise that Aaron Mooy is receiving plenty of plaudits after Town’s first ever home victory in the Premier League which made it two wins from two for this campaign.
The Australian playmaker was seemingly everywhere against a disheartened and quite frankly toothless Newcastle United side.
In spite of the deficiencies of Newcastle, this should not take anything away from what was a brilliant performance from the Australian midfielder.
From the first whistle, Aaron Mooy had an absolute field day against a limited midfield duo of Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden.
Outside of possession, Mooy showed his tenacity and work ethic as he tirelessly pressed against an uncomfortable Newcastle midfield.
It was not only his tenacity that stood out, his composure and his eighty-five touches throughout the game showed that Mooy was stamping his authority on the game and running the show.
However, it was Mooy’s footballing intelligence that stood out for me. Like Shelvey did last season, Mooy’s positioning was the key to his success.
Having acknowledged that a compact Newcastle United side would offer very little space in the centre of the park as they looked to cut the passing lanes, Mooy was more than willing to interlink with both the wingers and the full-backs in an effort to disrupt a disciplined Newcastle defensive shape.
Whilst Newcastle were very organised, they didn’t seem to heed the warning from the week before. Against Crystal Palace, Mooy drifted wide and after a sliderule pass from Chris Löwe set Mooy free, he provided a perfect cross for Mounié to power a header home.
It was Mooy’s movement again which created the goal as he produced a moment of magic which would go on to decide the outcome of the match.
After drifting to the left-hand flank, a neat one-two between Mooy and Elias Kachunga led to the Australian sumptuously bending a shot past Rob Elliot into the far post to send Town fans into delirium.
With a £8m price-tag and an unfair label as a ‘Manchester City reject’, Aaron Mooy has hit the ground running in the Premier League.
If he can continue to play at that level, he will not only be quintessential to Town’s success but he will also be one of the standout performers in the entirety of the Premier League.
A flawless Christopher Schindler performance and the use of controlled aggression
Much has been made about Town’s open style and how it will adapt in the Premier League, especially considering how Town play with intensity and are constantly on the front foot.
Whilst it is true that Town has conceded chances and without some excellent goalkeeping from Jonas Lössl this point would not be valid, Town has begun the season with two clean sheets from two.
Town’s impressive defensive record is an exceptionally promising sign for the remainder of the season, although it is worth noting that Town have yet to face the most prolific attacks in the division. Yesterday’s performance was a demonstration of cohesiveness, organisation and controlled aggression.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen Premier League fans analysing our style and criticising the aggressive nature of the side but in my opinion, there is no malice. It is just a manifestation of effort and ambition.
Town are willing to scrap and fight for every single point and neither Crystal Palace or Newcastle United have been able to handle it.
The man yesterday who epitomised everything right about Town’s performance was Christopher Schindler. The German centre half led from the back and led by example.
From aerial challenges to blocks and crucial interceptions, Christopher Schindler’s performance was practically flawless and if it wasn’t for an equally excellent Mooy performance, he would have deserved the man of the match award.
Like many of Town players, Christopher Schindler has stepped up to the Premier League level, seemingly with ease and if he continues to put in performances like that, he will be drawing attention from across the league.
Lössl defies the critics
When Jonas Lössl arrived in West Yorkshire, there was a look of bemusement from those in Germany. The Danish goalkeeper had made a series of costly mistakes which led to him being dropped by Martin Schimdt for Jannik Huth.
Even though Lössl’s move to Huddersfield was met with much trepidation and serious doubt, over the past two league games, the loan move has looked inspired.
After making two wonderful saves last week to prevent Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke, against Newcastle, he topped the lot.
When Tommy Smith misplaced a header and it landed at the feet of Ayoze Perez, he fed it into the path of Matt Ritchie who arrowed a side-footed strike from twenty yards that look destined to find the bottom corner.
However, Jonas Lössl using forward momentum and his 6ft 3″ frame to its fullest extremities reached across and tipped the ball around the post with his fingertips.
Although Aaron Mooy’s spectacular goal rightfully receiving the attention and admiration that it deserves, Lössl’s save was equally impressive and earned Town the three points.
Like Town themselves, over the past two weeks, Jonas Lössl has defied the critics and the predictions, as he has proved to be- David Wagner’s most recent inspired signing.
Missing a number 10
As expected, it was a tight cagey tactical battle between Town and Newcastle. Despite that, in that first half, Tom Ince did manage to find pockets of space between the lines.
Unfortunately, he was unable to make the most of the opportunities that he received as he looked rather hesitant and indecisive at times.
It seems that the prolific winger is still adapting to life in the Premier League as well as attempting to adjust to this new position.
At times, particularly in the second half, Steve Mounié looked increasingly isolated as Ince tucked in to enable Town to out-number Newcastle in midfield.
With the transfer window still open for ten days, David Wagner may look to find that quality number 10 to forge a partnership with Steve Mounié and also free up Tom Ince into his more natural and comfortable wide midfield position.
We shouldn’t forget that we do have Kasey Palmer for this number 10 role. Though, a more experienced number 10 could relieve the burden on the 20-year-old starlet and allow him to thrive.
It’s yet to be seen who Town will look to bring in before the transfer window slams shut in September but if we could bring in one more high-quality acquisition for that number 10 role, it could be the final piece of the jigsaw.
Town continue to adapt and evolve
When Newcastle United rolled into town last March, it was clear what a massive opportunity it was for Town if they wanted to push Rafa Benitez’s side all the way for an automatic promotion spot.
Nonetheless, it was a Rafa Benitez tactical masterclass which saw his side set up defensively with two banks of four and very little space between the lines.
Benitez was more than happy to concede possession to Town but as soon as Wagner’s men crossed the half way line, Newcastle’s disciplined players would press and cut off the passing lanes making it difficult for Town to play out from the back.
Yesterday, we saw something extremely similar as Rafa Benitez attempted to replicate the performance but more importantly the result from last season.
However, Town has evolved. The quality of the forward options have improved meaning that Town now have a moment of magic in them which can be the difference in these extremely tight games.
Last season, Town were rather naive in this fixture against Newcastle United who welcomed Town onto them and then struck devastatingly on the counter-attack.
This time round, whilst Town did dominate possession once again, they showed their maturity and carried on their excellent game management from last season into the Premier League.
Aside from a snatched at chance by Ayoze Perez, Newcastle United barely threatened Town’s goal in the second half and they saw out the victory with ease.
With the ability to play a possession-heavy game and a counter-attacking style, Town have the capabilities to adapt to the situation and the opposition they’re facing which will put them in good stead for the remainder of the season.
Town have mastered the basics
Last week, although there was some praise for Town, it was overshadowed by criticisms of Frank De Boer’s Crystal Palace side.
All of Town’s goals last weekend were seemingly straightforward: a set-piece routine; a simple cross; and a route one counter attack.
This week, it was once again a relatively basic move that was executed brilliantly by Aaron Mooy which led to Town’s winner.
To create the space at the edge of the box, it was a simple one-two between Aaron Mooy and Elias Kachunga which opened up the Newcastle United defence.
Whilst it won’t get Town much praise, it’s often said that mastering the basics of the game can go a long way and over the course of fourteen days, Town have shown exactly that.
From clinical efficiency in front of goal to organised and cohesive defending, Town have a found a formula for success in the Premier League and it is all about doing the basics very well.
Next week, Town’s difficult task gets no easier as they face a major test against a rejuvenated Southampton side. Despite Southampton’s established status in the Premier League, Town seems to be a side that is gaining momentum and there is no reason why David Wagner’s defiant side could not make it three wins from three.