Rafa Benitez usually surprises with his team selections but for this first Saturday of 2018, the NUFC boss was more surprising than usual.
After playing a reserve team last season when exiting the FA Cup against Oxford, then the same in the League Cup this campaign when Forest visited, nobody could have predicted the team that played today.
Apart from protecting Karl Darlow with Rob Elliot out injured and resting DeAndre Yedlin, this was a team against Luton that pretty much all Newcastle fans would see as first choice.
Only moments after Perez notched the first goal however, many fans at first missed a substitution as they celebrated.
Jamaal Lascelles going off after half an hour and Isaac Hayden coming on as a makeshift centre-back.
However, Rafa Benitez moved to reassure supporters after the game, saying that taking the Newcastle Captain off was simply a precaution and he should be fine for Swansea next Saturday.
The United boss also says he is hoping to play a similarly strong team in the fourth round but that it ‘depends on injuries and where we are in the league.’
Well, Newcastle only have the home match with Swansea and then away game at Man City, before the fourth round FA Cup weekend of Saturday 27 January.
With an important home Premier League match with Burnley on Wednesday 31 January, it is difficult to see how Rafa will be comfortable playing such a strong team once again in the fourth round, unless of course his team beat Swansea AND Man City in the meantime…
“Jamaal Lascelles is fine.
“It was just a precaution (to substitute him just after the first goal) because he was complaining a little bit about his abductor and so we then we decided to make the substitution.
“I said in the (pre-match) news conference we wanted to approach the game with a strong team to make sure we were going through.
“First half we finished really well. We were 3-0 up, maybe it’s harder to keep concentration in the second half.
“In the second half we needed more experience to manage these games, keep the ball and then a fourth goal would have really finished it, but we couldn’t do it.
“I’m pleased with everything, the goals we scored and the way we managed the game.
“Maybe because of that, and going three goals up, we relaxed second half and gave them the belief that they could score and so it because more difficult.
“But we go through and the fans enjoyed this emotional game.
“We want to go as far as we can.
“I don’t want to lie…it was important to go through and play a strong team – hopefully the next one (we will be able to play a strong team) too, we will see about the next one.
“I wanted to be sure we did not have any (nasty) surprises and it was important to send a message we wanted to do well – but it (team selection in fourth round) depends on injuries and where we are in the league.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 3 Luton 1
Goals – Newcastle Perez 30, 36 Shelvey 39
Goals – Luton Hylton 49
Possession was Luton 51% Newcastle 49%
Total shots were Luton 9 Newcastle 25
Shots on target were Luton 2 Newcastle 7
Corners were Luton 7 Newcastle 7
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Woodman, Manquillo, Lascelles (Hayden 31), Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Merino (Saivet 80), Shelvey (Diame 71), Murphy, Perez, Gayle
Darlow, Joselu, Haidara, Aarons
Crowd: 47,069 (Approx 7,500 Luton)
(To read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the FA Cup win go HERE)
(Go HERE to watch the goals and highlights from Newcastle 3 Luton 1)