Newcastle United recorded an impressive away victory against Swansea City on Sunday to make it two wins in a row. There was a lot of negativity after their failure to sign anybody on deadline day, but the current squad looks to be more than capable of competing in the top flight. The home side had Wilfried Bony and Renato Sanches arrive at the end of last month to cause real excitement. However, they lacked invention against the Magpies and look to be a work-in-progress. Here are three things that we learnt from the contest:
Jamaal Lascelles is stepping up after promotion
The centre-back started the season out of the team and there were some supporters that were calling for him to lose the captaincy. At this stage of his career, that would have done a lot of damage and it was the right decision for him to retain the armband. He knows that he isn’t guaranteed a place in the team, but he is stepping up to the challenge.
On Sunday, Lascelles was the man-of-the-match as he made crucial contributions in both halves of the pitch. His goal-saving block to deny Tammy Abraham kept his side on level terms with the hosts and gave them the foundation to win the game. It was then the captain who scored the winning goal with a great header. The marking wasn’t great, but it was a convincing finish from the defender. It is crucial that he kicks on from here and cements his position in the team.
Renato Sanches will need time
It was a tremendous coup for Swansea City to secure Renato Sanches on loan for a season. However, the reaction from the media has been over the top. The midfielder has a lot of potential and could become a Champions League calibre player, but he isn’t at that level yet. He struggled to assert himself at Bayern Munich and has a long way to go until he is good enough to start for them.
This is going to be a year of development for Sanches and his billing ahead of this match was unfair. He isn’t likely to be the star in the Swansea team yet. If they give him time, he could start to dominate matches during the second half of the season, but they can’t rely on him for regular match-winning performances. There is a reason he has joined the Swans and he has a lot to learn before he can step up to a higher level.
Newcastle look like a Premier League team
The media and supporters alike are obsessed with the transfer window, which is why Newcastle have been written off as likely strugglers. They didn’t make a lot of signings and will rely on a lot of the squad that they had last season. Rafa Benitez would have liked one or two more additions, but he should be able to steer the club to a safe mid-table finish with the current options at his disposal.
They were well-organised against Swansea and made it extremely difficult for the home side to create clear-cut opportunities. Benitez will let the other team have the ball as he knows his team are better on the counter-attack. They created the better opportunities on Sunday and managed the game in an impressive manner. If they continue to play like this, they should be fine.