Newcastle United continued their stunning start to the season with a thumping 4-1 victory over Southampton on Sunday afternoon, with the Magpies having subsequently moved into third in the table to remain firmly in contention for a Champions League qualification berth.
For all the obvious talk of the investment that has helped to bolster the Tynesiders in recent windows, it has still proven a remarkable turnaround in fortunes under current boss Eddie Howe, following the doom and gloom that plagued the tenure of the Englishman’s predecessor, Steve Bruce.
The St James’ Park outfit have now won six of their last seven Premier League games, with their solitary top-flight defeat this season having come away to Liverpool at Anfield at the end of August, having emerged as a real threat to the established ‘Big Six’ in double-quick time.
A key figure in this recent rise for the northeast side has been that of Kieran Trippier, with the 32-year-old having been an instrumental presence for the club since his £12m arrival from La Liga side Atletico Madrid back in January.
That fee has gone on to appear something of a snip such has been the England international’s displays this season, in particular, with yesterday’s win another shining example of just what the full-back offers to Howe and co, having been the true hero for his side once again.
The former Tottenham Hotspur man has been in “unreal” form of late – as per one source – having helped form a vital part of a side that currently boasts the best defensive record in the league thus far, having shipped only 11 goals in 14 games.
The 37-cap machine notably recorded three tackles, three clearances and one interception in his 80-minute outing at St Mary’s, while also winning a solid four of his six ground duels and two of his four aerial duels as a sign of his defensive strength.
It was the Salford-born star’s impact in an attacking sense that particularly caught the eye, however, with the £100k-per-week man notably teeing up Joe Willock for his side’s third goal, after making a stunning interception in the middle of the pitch and laying on an exquisite, inch-perfect pass to his teammate.
That moment of brilliance has ensured that the one-time Burnley gem now has five goal contributions in all competitions so far this term from his right-back berth, with such form ensuring that he now simply “has to start” for his country at the upcoming World Cup, according to Alan Shearer.
While the £11.3m-rated ace did lose possession on 18 occasions during that latest showing against the Saints, he was still able to record a stunning match rating of 7.6, as per SofaScore, with that figure the highest of any player for either side.
There will likely be concern among both his club and the Three Lions at having seen the all-action defender withdrawn late on after struggling with a potential hamstring injury, although the player himself insisted post-match that the issue was not serious.
On the evidence of yesterday’s performance, Newcastle need their leader in tow if they are to maintain their current, remarkable assault on the top four.