After a 90 minutes that didn’t exactly go according to plan, Christian Atsu claims that there were still a lot of positives.
Indeed one of the big positives was Atsu himself, after a bit part role in the Championship (only 15 starts) the winger delivered a performance on Sunday that showed far more potential than what he did 90% of the time in the second tier. Newcastle’s man of the match against Spurs for many/most fans.
The biggest fear going into the season was that Newcastle may not be able to carry enough threat to Premier League opposition but Christian Atsu showed confidence running with the ball, that could prove a massive asset if he can sustain that through the season.
Whilst admitting that man for man Spurs ‘were better than us’, the winger believes that playing as a team and being able to ‘stick with our game plans’ can enable Newcastle to compete.
The first half on Sunday suggested that Newcastle were more than capable of taking at least a draw, after chances were minimal at either end, only for Shelvey to destroy any ‘game plan’ or possibility of a positive result with his selfish actions just after the break.
One big strength for Christian Atsu was the fact that despite losing two of the back four to injury early on, Mbemba and Lascelles came on and showed that there is strength in depth.
With the limited money at his disposal, Rafa Benitez once again appears to have concentrated on trying to make sure there is two players for each position, rather than relying on one or two better quality players to depend on.
Dwight Gayle is the stand out goal threat at this moment in time and desperately needs others to stand up and support him, in terms of creating the chances and for him and adding goals of their own.
With Jonjo Shelvey scoring such an own goal on the opening day, it means sooner rather than later the onus will be on others to produce the creativity.
Here’s hoping Christian Atsu can be a big part of that.
Christian Atsu talking to the official club site:
“We went into the game with a very strong mentality, trying to win.
“We did really well in the first half and made things difficult for them – we created a couple of chances but after the red card when we had ten men, it became really hard.
“We had to stick together. Individually, we knew they were better than us, so we needed to play as a team. We did that.
“We need to believe in ourselves and continue to stick with our game plans. We just need to keep our focus, keep working hard and try to win our next game.
“The team is ready and although we lost two players (Dummett and Lejeune to injury), you did not see any difference. You could see that all the players are well prepared for anything that happens.
“We will need to win games before we become more confident but I think the team is really solid and playing really well.
“We thank the fans for their support. They have been amazing. We will come back stronger to give them what they deserve.”