Is this Newcastle star proving essential to winning run?
As many Newcastle United fans will recognise, the Norwich match in which we were losing 3-2 with two minutes to spare and ended up winning 4-3 (amazing feeling), was the turning point in both Newcastle and Norwich’s season.
As since then the Toon have won every game and Norwich have fallen to sixth, 13 points behind us.
This was a first match for Karl Darlow (for Newcastle) in the Championship and though he conceded three, I feel it is no coincidence that since he came into the team Newcastle have won every game – and in many ways he embodies everything that is right with NUFC at the moment.
My feelings towards Darlow were summed up perfectly in the Leeds match at the weekend (which I attended in the home end and somehow got away with celebrating our first goal…). For me, the former Forest keeper was excellent, he made two very important saves – one from Luke Ayling during Leeds best spell of the game when backpedalling towards his own goal he got a hand on a looping header and tipped it over the bar, then another important one from Eunan O’Kane early in the second half, where he showed excellent reactions to get down low to his right and prevent a Leeds equaliser.
On top of this, Karl Darlow claimed every cross Leeds launched into the box and was quick off his line on numerous occasions, to clear the ball from danger. For me, Darlow was our best player on Sunday because of his excellent anticipation and ability to catch under pressure, which in turn killed the Leeds atmosphere. Distribution was also excellent, one throw he attempted which stood out ,was in the middle of Leeds’ spell of pressure near the end of the first half. Where he caught the ball at the corner and instantly released Matt Ritchie down the right hand side of the Leeds half, relieving all of the pressure on our box.
Watching from the stands I also feel as if the team feel more comfortable with Darlow in goal, especially the two centre-backs as they seem more confident in pushing up the pitch, knowing that behind them they have, at this level anyway, an excellent goalkeeper.
Since Matz Sels was dropped after having been judged to be at fault for the Aston Villa equaliser, Newcastle United have won every game and long may that continue – I personally think that the role of Karl Darlow is a big reason for that.
The Leeds game was his standout performance and he outclassed his opposite number Robert Green in every department. However, along with this he has also made key saves in other games, such as the Brentford and Barnsley matches at key moments.
When Rob Elliot gets back from injury he is going to have a fight on his hands to win his place back in the starting 11, as Karl Darlow at the moment for me is easily one of the first names on the team sheet.
If he keeps playing to his level then it should stay that way.
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