As NUFC were fighting hard to bring a 1-1 result back from Anfield on Sunday night, one performance stood out for me and that was our summer signing Vurnon Anita. Surprisingly the Dutchman was chosen ahead of Danny Simpson at right back and did have a shaky first 10 minutes as Raheem Sterling continued his flying start to his professional career by testing Anita at every given moment. But once James Perch went off with an injury in the first half, Anita was switched into the central midfield role he craves and delivered easily his best performance in a Newcastle United shirt.
Considering he has not been in the side for past few league games and was substituted at half time against Brugges in the Europa League, this almost faultless performance at Anfield, was all the more impressive. I have had my doubts over Anita since we signed him as he has not exactly looked convincing in the middle of the park compared to the likes of Cabaye, Tiote and even youngster Bigirimana. I was even on the verge of saying Graham Carr may have actually got one wrong for a change and the club had wasted a large chunk of transfer money. However, after the shift he put in up against the likes of Gerrard, Sahin and Joe Allen in a difficult match, at a difficult ground, after a difficult start at right back...those doubts have been put to bed.
Considering Cheik Tiote is still suspended, James Perch will be out for about a month and Yohan Cabaye also came off injured in the second half, Vurnon Anita will no doubt be called upon in Brugges and probably versus West Ham at home next Sunday. Before this performance against Liverpool I would have had my doubts over him filling the role to a similar standard. But not now. You can't underestimate how much of a challenge it is to play at Anfield with their style of play for a central midfielder. We can criticise Liverpool for their lack of goals but they pass and pass and pass the ball around the middle of the park constantly. It is their main area of choice to play and Vurnon Anita alongside Jonas Gutierrez coped with it magnificently. The fact Jonas lost possession leading to Liverpool's equaliser just shows the level of concentration needed in midfield to beat them. Anita never made such a mistake. He was class throughout. He can wear that number 8 shirt with pride when he is no doubt called upon in the near future.
What was also evident, quite blatantly, was the success of the 4-3-3 formation Pardew FINALLY deployed. We had so much more control over the game rather than just lumping it forward constantly. We passed it to feet. We broke with speed and guile. This was shown perfectly in our goal. The ball was passed around midfield, it eventually got worked out to Benny who ran at Enrique, beat him, then delivered a perfect cross for the ambitious Cabaye, who finished with an absolute plomb. What a goal.
All four of our most gifted attacking players were in the oppositions penalty area as Yohan spanked Benny's cross into the top corner with Ba and Cisse in close attendance. It was a sight to be hold. At last.
If this performance doesn't convince Pardew the way we need to play for the rest of the season, nothing will. I would still prefer Cisse up top and Demba to the left, as Ba has more ability to find a pass and run with the ball. Cisse is all about getting in at goal and scoring. He loses possession a bit too much for my liking, but one step at a time eh? Given the fact Demba may miss a game or two with his own injury worries, Papiss will get his chance to shine at the forefront of a front three. I cant wait. We could have the Cisse from last season back very soon.
Hat's off to the lads. A good hard point gained. As for Captain Colo, I dont know what you were thinking of but may that be the last time you act so stupidly on the field again. Pointless sending off. Even if it was debatable in my eyes, much like Tiote's.
Bring on Brugges on Thursday, bring on the 4-3-3 and over to you now Mr Anita. Our summer signing has finally arrived.
Howay The Lads!
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