QPR 0 Newcastle 6 – Tuesday 13 September 7.45pm
The usual Rafa Benitez team selection guessing game continued before kick off, once again I don’t think anyone would have got the line up spot on, especially with news of Mbemba’s knock kept very quiet.
During his time at Liverpool, their fans had a website dedicated to guessing Rafa’s team selection, to which many people rarely got the team correct. While the likes of Mbemba, Ritchie, Shelvey and Gayle are proving themselves to be key players this year, there does not appear to be any superstars in this team.
With 46 games this season, plus a few more in the cup, rotation is going to be key and so is keeping the squad happy. There does not appear to be a best eleven.
Having won a few games on the bounce, and two away from home, you were almost waiting for Newcastle not to turn up at Loftus Road… and they didn’t, Brazil turned up instead.
From start to finish Newcastle dominated a football match for the first time in a while. A truly remarkable night where every single player on the pitch played brilliantly.
Yes, QPR were awful. Yes, QPR’s defence looked like they’d never played football before, but that should not take anything away from our performance.
Defensively we looked at ease. Certainly away from home, our back four is not too dissimilar to how Leicester lined up last season with a narrow back four who stick together, and two full-backs who very rarely venture forward. Unlike in the past with the likes of Janmaat and Santon who have looked weak defensively, that can’t be said of Dummett or Anita at the moment.
Going forward it really was like watching a different team – we carved QPR open at will. Jonjo Shelvey ran the game from centre midfield – already in his short time at the club, it appears that when Shelvey plays well, Newcastle tend to play well too. I hope that performances like that from a player who obviously has a lot of talent, are not a one-off, and he can now try and maintain some consistency that not only his Newcastle career has lacked, but his whole career to date.
Up front it was the first time that we saw both Perez and Mitrovic together this season and they really impressed. Although Mitro did miss a hatful of chances, his all round build-up play was positive and even just his presence on the pitch fills the stands with positive vibes. For Perez, this was a massive game, a chance that he had to take and he did. A small player who seems to feed off the physical challenge – a rarity for a player like him.
It was also really refreshing to see our strength coming off the bench – at 4-0 it would be easy for Rafa to shut up shop, take the clean sheet and see the game out but we brought on real strength with Atsu looking very skilful and pacey, along with Yedlin who we now know is likely to be a good signing… and that doesn’t include both Gayle and Diame who didn’t even make it onto the pitch. OR Lazaar, Mbemba or Murphy who didn’t even make it onto the bench.
So really promising signs.
Now 6 wins in a row – can we make it 7?
We started and finished the game on the front front – something which us away fans have probably never seen, at least in the past 5 years anyway! It could have been one nil even earlier if the linesman had kept his flag down to an Ayoze Perez goal – I haven’t seen a replay of the disallowed goal but it did look very harsh from the other end of the pitch (obviously).
It didn’t really matter though because only a few minutes later we were one nil up. A really smart run from Mitrovic put him in behind the QPR defence and he had the calmness to find Shelvey who put the ball in the back of the net via a deflection.
While my previous (Derby) match report stressed how I expected Rafa to shut up shop at 1-0 in many games this year – quite the opposite happened. Newcastle took full control of the game and finished QPR off by the 30 minute mark.
A fantastic delivery from Matt Ritchie to find Ayoze Perez, and although it took him two attempts to find the net – it was a great finish which will provide him with some much-needed confidence.
Ritchie and Perez would go on to have further chances before the break – it could have been four or five.
The second-half was only seconds old by the time Shelvey officially made it game over – a fantastic strike that was heading for the top corner the moment it left his foot. An incredible strike – and again – it will do the world of good for his confidence.
The fourth came from a corner – something which Rafa Benitez must surely have been working on throughout the summer. There was a stage in the recent past where a corner for Newcastle almost guaranteed that we weren’t going to score. This was a side that went 499 corners without scoring under Alan Pardew.
Ritchie with another assist and Ciaran Clark with a brilliant header – although the QPR marking was almost laughable.
Mitrovic then forced two excellent saves from Smithies as a rampant Newcastle simply toyed with the home side.
By the time Mitrovic finally made it 5-0, he could have had his hat-trick – but he was in the right place at the right time and that goal will again do his confidence the world of good.
There was time for Grant Hanley to even get on the scoresheet! 6-0! Six!
In the 18 years I’ve had of watching Newcastle, this was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been watching a game. It was easy – and will probably be our easiest game for a long long time.
He just gets it. It makes you think that if we had replaced Sir Bobby with someone like Benitez, where would we be now?
Instead, we have almost wasted 11 years in the history of this great club – there can be no doubt that Rafa is the right man to lead us out of the Championship.
“Be careful what you wish for” were the cries from many neutral football supporters at the end of last season with regards to Rafa. Funny really.
Best fans in the UK. I’m not biased, just honest.
Four points from the next three games and I would be very happy with our progress.
I met up with a friend on the tube home, who happens to be a Sunderland fan – and we both came to the same conclusion that out of the two clubs, you would rather be in Newcastle’s position right now, rather than Sunderland’s.
Which, considering how we all felt that night Sunderland beat Everton to condemn us to relegation, speaks volumes of the fantastic job that Rafa Benitez has done at Newcastle in such a short space of time.
If he can do this much in only six months, then let us all dream of what he can achieve in the next two or three years.
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
QPR 0 Newcastle 6
Newcastle: Shelvey 12, 48, Perez 30, Clark 56, Mitrovic 63, Hanley 79
Possession was QPR 50% Newcastle 50%
Total shots were QPR 7 Newcastle 29
Shots on target were QPR 3 Newcastle 12
Corners were QPR 4 Newcastle 8
Team: Sels, Anita, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett (Hanley 65), Hayden, Shelvey, Gouffran (Atsu 61), Ritchie, Perez, Mitrovic (Yedlin 74)
Unused Subs: Darlow, Colback, Diame, Gayle
Referee: Andy Davies
Crowd: 17,404 (Newcastle 2,900)
(To read Jonathan’s match ratings go HERE)