A strange season for Karl Darlow this time around.
Arguably Newcastle’s best player in that survival bid late last season, including remaining undefeated in the final six matches – which included games against Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs.
The highlight possibly being the penalty save against Yohan Cabaye and Crystal Palace, which won the three points and gave real hope that staying in the Premier League was possible.
That fight was eventually lost and then Karl Darlow was hit by another blow, Rafa Benitez very surprisingly bringing in somebody new to English football and guaranteeing Matz Sels first go at making the number one spot his own.
After nine nervous Championship matches, Sels was eventually relieved of the job after a late Villa equaliser and now Karl Darlow has played the last 20 matches in a row, looking every bit as good as he did last season.
The popular keeper even has his own Spandau Ballet ‘Always Believing…’ tribute song.
Looking at their respective records:
Matz Sels won 5, drew 1, lost 3 and Newcastle picked up 16 points from 9 matches.
Karl Darlow has won 15, drawn 1, lost 4 and Newcastle have picked up 46 points from 20 games.
In terms of points per game, Sels is 1.77 and Darlow 2.30, which works out at around an extra five points Newcastle could have added (if Darlow’s average was continued over the nine matches Sels played) to their current 62 points total – it doesn’t sound a lot but the reality is that it could have made Newcastle six points clear of Brighton and 11 ahead of third place Reading (and with a game in hand).
The value of a good goalkeeper is immeasurable, Karl Darlow has convinced pretty much all Newcastle supporters that he is more than good enough for the job, Matz Sels still has it all to prove.
Altogether now – ‘Always believing…’
“We have to kick on now – we are at the top of the table again and we want to stay there.
“We need to make sure we win as many games as we can from the last 17 games that are left in the season.
“Credit to Brighton as they have kept up with us and we have to be on our toes every step of the way,
“We have set a very good pace with the points we are picking up at this level and when you look at the totals that tend to get you up in this league, we’re well on track for that.
“We don’t make it easy for ourselves, every game is a bit of a scrap and we had to do that towards the end against Derby.
“Obviously, when we were only one goal up going into the final stages, we knew it could turn out a bit nervy.
“It did but we showed towards the end of the game that we have the character to get through whatever Derby threw at us.
“One header went for us against Derby (Yedlin’s clearance) and one against us in the week (against QPR), nice to have some luck go our way this time and nice of him (Yedlin) to help me out – a great header.”