Over the last several weeks, I've done a lot of complaining about three Newcastle players in particular: Jonás Gutiérrez, Leon Best, and Peter Lovenkrands. All three were instrumental in the scoring today, with the first setting up the others for one goal each. It's nice to know that the players you love to hate (and truthfully, I don't hate any of them) can still produce from time to time.
Produce they did. It's not easy to win at St. Andrew's, as the announcers told us over and over, but when Lovenkrands finished off a Jonas cross early on, it felt like three points was in the cards all the way. Birmingham City is the only team in the Premier League that averages less than a goal per game, so 1-0 almost felt like 4-0, if you catch my drift. The rest of the first half wasn't great for the Toon, with the Blues handily winning the possession battle, but aside from a couple of shots easily put away by Steve Harper (and one that Nikola Zigic airmailed), they didn't threaten the scoreline much at all.
Alan Pardew must be really adept at halftime speeches, because the Magpies came out firing on all cylinders. Cheik Tiote locked down the midfield and distributed the ball quite well, and both Lovenkrands and Best were infinitely better than they were on Saturday against Blackburn. Lovenkrands made several good diagonal runs and Best controlled the aerial attack, which is enough to make me wonder why the Birmingham defenders were so eager to face Andy Carroll the first time around (when the fixture was canceled). In any case, it seemed to me on the first viewing that all eleven players had at least a passable game.
One lingering concern: Lovenkrands was noticeably limping after getting spiked around the 63rd minute. The next game is 11 days away, so if the injury is not serious, he should have time to heal up. There are also reports that Shola Ameobi might actually be ready for that fixture (against Bolton), so help may be on the way.
By the way, today's win marked the first W for the lads since we moved to SB Nation. Finally, the curse is lifted!