Mohamed Diame was immense against Arsenal.
Named man of the match, the stats simply reinforcing what we could all see with our own eyes.
Yet another non-stop display in midfield as he repeatedly broke down Arsenal attacks/possession, not giving their players any easy time in the Newcastle half.
Garth Crooks revealed that Mohamed Diame had been the hardest working on the Newcastle team, running a total of 11.5km against Arsenal.
It has been some journey and transformation for a player who Jamaal Lascelles allegedly called out in training earlier this season, in the infamous incident that led to blows between the two players and a broken finger for Jonjo Shelvey as he tried to separate them.
Speaking after this win over Arsene Wenger’s side, it is ironic then that Mohamed Diame was keen to say ‘We have been fighting hard, even in training.’
Football of course is a team game and it is all about putting the right people together, so maybe no coincidence that we are seeing the best from Diame after he has been paired with Jonjo Shelvey and with the vital added attacking element of Kenedy arriving at the club.
The bottom line is that we are now watching a player who works so hard and is now struggling to ever have a poor game, both the player and Rafa Benitez deserve so much credit for the turnaround.
Mohamed Diame talking to the official club site:
“It [Premier League safety already] is a massive achievement.
“This team has been working hard since the beginning of the season and I think we deserve it.
“It’s very good what is happening in this club, in this city. I think we are where we deserve to be.
“It has been tough…a few seasons before this club went down, then we got promoted and enjoyed last year.
“This season, everyone was thinking about fighting until the last game of the season, and getting that 41 points is a massive achievement.
“Everyone is happy to fight for each other.
“This team has that spirit that gives you an extra breath, and the stadium…you saw how the fans were again, amazing, they were pushing us.
“It’s just the atmosphere, that’s what we’re trying to enjoy as much as we can.
“We knew that Arsenal are a good team, technically they are very good and they play balls through the lines.
“It hasn’t been easy and we were running a lot, but we were keeping our shape.
“The manager did very well to make sure this week we worked hard about that and just kept our shape. We knew we were going to have some opportunities to score and that’s what happened.
“We have been fighting hard, even in training. It’s not been easy but everyone has been focussed since the beginning, and I think we deserved it today.
“The target is still the same as it was last week…to finish as high as possible.
“We’re going to enjoy it for a few days, then get back to work to prepare the game against Everton and try to win again.
“We know what we want between us, we want to finish as high as possible, so we are going to keep working.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 2 Arsenal 1
Newcastle: Perez 29, Ritchie 68
Arsenal: Lacazette 14
Possession was Arsenal 72% Newcastle 28%
Total shots were Arsenal 15 Newcastle 8
Shots on target were Arsenal 3 Newcastle 4
Corners were Arsenal 5 Newcastle 2
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie (Murphy 86), Shelvey, Kenedy, Perez (Joselu 79), Gayle (Slimani 63))
Darlow, Manquillo, Clark, Hayden
Crowd: 52,210 (2,700 Arsenal approx)
(Alan Shearer revels in Newcastle win and has Piers Morgan and other Arsenal fans biting – Read HERE)
(United fan/writer instant reaction to the 2-1 victory – Read it HERE)
(Match ratings of all NUFC players after beating Arsenal – Read HERE)
(Arsene Wenger says Newcastle didn’t even deserve a point…Read HERE)
(Rafa Benitez reaction after final whistle – Read HERE)
(Garth Crooks revisits ‘Rafa could win Premier League with Newcastle’ comments – Read HERE)