A gritty performance saw Newcastle come away with three points but it was quality strikes from Dwight Gayle and Mohamed Diame that gave United the edge at Burton.

Gayle’s brilliant near post flick gave Newcastle and early lead, making it 17 goals for the campaign and we aren’t even at the halfway point.

Whilst Jonjo Shelvey is obviously a key part of what Rafa is trying to do this season, Dwight Gayle is arguably the one player Newcastle would really struggle without, as it isn’t just his goals that the Magpies would miss.

After his contribution yesterday, the Newcastle number nine talked about how he saw his role: ‘I have to do what I can: whether it’s assisting, scoring, running into the channels or getting the team up the pitch’.

Even when asked to do the thankless task on Wednesday of occupying the Wigan backline with almost zero support for most of the game, he just got on with it.

Whilst he admits to being able to enjoy the next few days with Newcastle guaranteed top spot for Christmas, Gayle says he can’t wait for Christmas to be over and to ‘play every couple of days’, claiming that is what any proper football player wants to do.

Well as Newcastle fans, we have certainly seen plenty who weren’t quite as keen…

Dwight Gayle talking to the official club website:

“Today perhaps  wasn’t the best performance but it just shows the togetherness we have and the willingness to win.

“It’s a great result for us and not many teams are going to come here and win. Burton are difficult to play against and they know what they’re good at.

“I thought they played well today but we were just solid.

“We pretty much knew what they were about – the two strikers they have are a real handful and they are both good players. I thought we blended into the game and dealt with it. To keep them down to one is really good and we defended well.

“The main thing is for me to go into each game and help out the team, whichever way it is. I have to do what I can: whether it’s assisting, scoring, running into the channels or getting the team up the pitch.

“It’s a great feeling to be top of the table at Christmas and it will make the next few days that bit nicer.

“It’ll be fantastic to play every couple of days (during festive period) because that’s what you want to do.

“It’s fantastic to go out and play in front of 52,000 and away from home, they’re selling every ticket we get.

“They are good times at the moment.”

Here are the stats from BBC Sport:

Burton 1 Newcastle 2

Goals – 

Burton: Dyer 20

Newcastle: Gayle 15, Diame 34

Possession was Burton 57% Newcastle 43%

Total shots were Burton 15 Newcastle 9

Shots on target were Burton 3 Newcastle 4

Corners were Burton 7 Newcastle 5

Newcastle starting 11:

Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Hayden, Shelvey, Ritchie (Gouffran 85), Atsu, Diame, Gayle

Unused Subs:

Sels, Mbemba, Mitrovic, Lazaar, Anita, Perez

Referee: Lee Probert

Crowd: 6,665 (Newcastle 1,730)

(Read the NUFC instant fan/writer reaction HERE)

(View the interactive player ratings and add your own HERE)

(Watch Mohamed Diame’s excellent winner HERE)