However, it very much came at a price. Star winger Allan Saint-Maximin came off injured and was later seen exiting St James’ Park on crutches. The initial feeling is that he could be on the sidelines for weeks.
That’s a blow that former England international Darren Bent feels the Magpies will struggle to cope with: “Yeah, humongous blow as he is key to what they do,” he told Football Insider. “He’s quick, he’s strong, he’s unpredictable so for me, it’s a big blow and Newcastle are going to struggle without him.”
The statistics show that the Frenchman has arguably been the Magpies’ most important player since returning to full fitness. Since the start of October, his form has been off the charts.
As per WhoScored.com, his WhoScored ratings per game since then have been: 7.08, 6.83, 7.28, 7.59, 7.47, 6.90, 7.23, 7.32 and 7.90. So in over two months Saint-Maximin has only dipped below a 7.00 twice.
The 22-year-old is also averaging 1.5 shots, 1.1 key passes and 4.5 successful dribbles per game. To take that sort of direct and tangible impact away for Newcastle could be devastating to the team’s creativity and cutting edge in the final third.
Bent has hit the nail on the head – this could be a tough period for Newcastle if Saint-Maximin faces any substantial period on the sidelines.