After the performance, the two names coming in for the most credit were goalscorer Demba Ba and our midfield magician Hatem Ben Arfa. These two did both play fantastically well, Ben Arfa the spark we needed in the middle of the park and Ba taking his goal brilliantly. However for me one man who has not received as much credit as is due is centre half Steven Taylor.
We are all perfectly aware of how well he played alongside Coloccini last season so knew he can put in the sort of performances he did against Tottenham but what shook me about the performance was how commanding, dominant and mature it was, especially without the security of the club captain alongside him.
Taylor was expected to be the main man at centre half with Coloccini out and when a player out of position was put alongside him in Perch, Taylor really needed to step up. Step up he did, with a commanding performance, when the defence needed calm he seemed to be the man ushering them and putting his foot on the ball. His header off the ground back to Krul only highlighting how aware he was of what was going on around him.
This fantastic performance was even more surprising as we must remember this was his first competitive fixture since we played Chelsea on December 3rd last season and unlike some players he didn’t look off the pace or out of place.
He may be 26 but for me Saturday was the first time we’ve seen this maturity from ‘Tayls’. Serious injuries may have delayed or stagnated his development as a player and I think he is still seen as that young centre back we first knew. We may know though be seeing him playing like his age and this can only be a good thing.
Taylor’s performance on Saturday will hopefully have done more than just won us three points, it may have ushered in a new Steven Taylor. We are all aware of how important keeping players fit will be this season but keeping Taylor fit could be more important than most others, not just because of how few defensive reinforcements we have. A strong partnership between him and Coloccini could give us a central defensive partnership to be feared like our forward three and if we can keep those long-term injuries away who knows how far Taylor could go as a Newcastle player.