Miguel Almiron showed just what Newcastle have been missing on his debut start, as he lit up St James’s Park with a dazzling display against Huddersfield.
The Paraguayan helped the Toon see off The Terriers in a 2-0 win and despite not scoring or assisting, he made his presence felt.
This season Newcastle have been desperately poor in the final third and frequently misplace the crucial final pass.
But with Almiron now in the side, it looks like this issue has now been solved.
Throughout the match the midfielder played incisive and dangerous passes through the Huddersfield defence, and looks to be the number 10 Newcastle have been missing.
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Although most of his passes weren’t taken advantage of by his team mates, his hard work eventually payed off.
The new signing was instrumental in creating Newcastle’s second, his volleyed cross into the box eventually being flicked into the path of goal scorer Ayoze Perez.
Almiron was also unlucky not to score himself when his clever chip over Huddersfield keeper rebounded off the post.
But despite Almiron’s brilliant debut start, he was very lucky it did not turn into a nightmare.
A red card offence from Tommy Smith on Almiron may have given Newcastle the advantage, but the Toon were very lucky the midfielder was able to continue.
Tommy Smith’s challenge will serve as a warning to Almiron
Is there any better introduction to the Premier League than an ankle high studs up challenge?
Although Almiron wasn’t happy with Smith’s tackle, he can expect a lot more like that in the coming games.
As he is still an unknown quantity in the league, he seems to have taken defenders by surprise.
In the opening twenty minutes, the Paraguayan burst from midfield between two Huddersfield centre-backs, and very nearly opened the scoring.
It’s little wonder Tommy Smith scythed into the attacker just minutes later when he looked liable to repeat the feat.
Smith seemed to think he needed to stop Almiron at all costs, man or ball, it didn’t matter.
The Newcastle star hobbled for a nervy few minutes after the foul, but luckily appeared to be unharmed.
The problem Newcastle have now is that this clearly shows the midfielder is already a marked man.
It will be a test of Almiron’s character how he now copes in the league, as he is likely to be subjected to dirty tactics in most games.
If opposition teams focus solely on stifling his threat, the overall creativity of the team will take a huge blow.
His fast and direct style of play also invites fouls and late challenges, meaning his risk of injury is very high.
The nightmare scenario is Newcastle lose Almiron to injury from one of these tactical fouls, which would seriously dint their survival hopes.
Because as soon as Almiron left the field – the Newcastle of old began to reveal itself.
Almiron’s boost to the side clear after late changes
Newcastle quite comfortably played the best they have all season against Huddersfield.
The Toon had 29 shots at goal, 12 of which were on target.
Had it not been for some great saves from Jonas Lossl, the score could have easily been a rout.
Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez will probably also be disappointed they didn’t score more, after both missed sitters throughout.
But quite frankly, to create this many opportunities is completely out of character for Newcastle this season.
This sudden change in attacking intent is undoubtedly thanks to Almiron.
As soon as Almiron was replaced by Christian Atsu for the final ten minutes, Newcastle’s attacking impetus faded.
The team did continue to try and score, but their final pass issues were clear to see.
In just one game, the Paraguayan has revealed himself to be the key to Newcastle playing confident, attacking football.
It’s hard to imagine going back to life without him, and Benitez must ensure he is wrapped in cotton wool for the remainder of the season.