sissoko2-300compIt is quite amazing how many Newcastle United players have gone from Villain to Hero over the last few weeks under Rafa Benitez.

From back to front we have quite a few.

Karl Darlow came in after Rob Elliott’s injury and most of us feared the worst after his previous showings.

However, he has stepped up and though not faultless, he’s been very very good.

Against Palace it wasn’t just about his save from Cabaye. He made a couple of decent stops and came for countless balls in the box. If he couldn’t catch it, he punched it and punched it well. A great all round showing over the last few weeks.

In the back 4 we all like Mbemba.

But how good have Anita, Lascelles and Dummett been? All 3 have played their parts and played them well. Maybe in the long term we still need the 2 fullbacks in but they are not letting us down right now.

Lascelles, since his rant at Southampton, has grown into the best defensive prospect we have EVER had. Backing his talk with actions on the pitch and looks a captain for the future. “That” tackle against Palace was as good as I’ve seen this season by anyone.

In the midfield, possibly our least liked player, Sissoko has really stepped up to the plate. Working hard and actually leading his team. Credit to him for reacting to Rafa’s faith in him.

Colback and Tiote have both been immense lately. Fighting for every ball, making tackles and playing the simple balls in the way that they should. Really excellent from 2 players many didn’t want in the team a few week ago.

I personally hold my hands up on Townsend. Was not convinced by us signing him one bit, but he has been exceptional at times. Maybe not putting it together over 90 minutes but his work rate and ability cannot be faulted. A couple of vital goals for us as well and looking like a REAL winger and match winner.

Not too late for the Euro’s for him either as his rivals in that position, Sterling, Walcott and Oxlaide-Chamberlain have all been very poor lately. If that’s his motivation for recent showings thats fine by me.

Up front is a difficult one. I’m not going to disagree with Rafa. How could I?

He has a belief in what he’s doing and its working. Cisse to work the back 4 then bring Mitro and Perez in later on just to pin the opposition back. Mitro’s hold up play against Palace was superb.

The only one I haven’t really seen a big improvement in has to be Wijnaldum. In the middle or out wide, it just isn’t happening.

Has he given up? I just don’t know, but there is clearly a different player in there somewhere.

Great to watch though and currently a set of players looking worthy of our support.

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.

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