A tale of two halves
Let's start with Sammy's goal, shall we? The dictionary doesn't contain enough disparaging adjectives to describe how abject the first-half performance was. As analyst Danny Murphy accurately stated, Newcastle looked like a team that was simply waiting to get beaten. Though Tottenham wasn't making the most of its chances, that's exactly what looked destined to happen. There was no apparent strategy other than packing it in around goal. Then Ameobi came on at halftime and scored six seconds after the whistle, and suddenly Newcastle decided it felt like playing.
I've said for some time now that Sammy deserves to start. It's a shame that injuries have prevented him from being able to really challenge for the starting XI on a weekly basis. His 2014 appearances have been few and far between because of those injuries, but his directness and left-footed creativity are qualities the current squad lacks. Let's hope Alan Pardew agrees and actually gives a worthy young player the chance to shine.
Speaking of players making the most of their sub appearances, how about that Rémy Cabella? The ex-Montpellier man has divided the fans with some pretty uneven performances early in his tenure, and looked perilously close to becoming Hatem Ben Arfa 2.0 in Pardew's eyes. However, he came off the bench with a plan, completing 16 of his 18 passes (including a perfect cross for his assist) and also managing four tackles. Like Ameobi, he has hopefully punched his ticket back into the starting lineup.
One start, one goal
First-time starter Ayoze Pérez was the beneficiary of Cabella's good service, nodding in the header that proved to be the match-winner. It wasn't an easy afternoon for Pérez, who was (unfairly in my view) criticized by the commentators as not ready for the Premier League. When Pardew goes with the ultra-conservative approach we saw in the first half, most lone strikers will struggle. There just isn't the support to do anything except get shoved off the ball by a defender. However, we have seen from his sub appearances that Pérez does get himself into prime scoring areas if given the opportunity. With a more determined attacking effort in the second half, he did just that. You'd like to think that the manager would learn something about how to get the most out of these players from a performance like this. Sadly, we've read this script too many times over the past few seasons.