In the wake of Steve McClaren's revolutionary change to a 4-4-2 formation, Newcastle fans have been treated to the budding partnership between highly rated young strikers Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic. Although the headlines from Sunday's match with Norwich have rightly belonged to Gini Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko, both Perez and Mitrovic tallied on top of the Dutchman's 4-goal haul and played important rolls in the buildups to several of Wijnaldum's goals. In spite of that, there is still room to grow within the four major pieces that led Newcastle to their first win of the Steve McClaren era. Let's take a look at Mitrovic's influence on the match.
Against Norwich, Mitrovic was everything that we were promised he would be. He was powerful in the air, provided a good amount of hold-up play, and was intelligent with his movement off the ball. He nearly opened the scoring in the 13th minute off of Jack Colback's lovely cross but his redirection was blocked by the Norwich defense. Undeterred by that, he was instrumental in the buildup to Wijnaldum's opener as the interplay between he and Gini nearly broke him through the Canaries defense. The half clearance that took of the ball from his foot subsequently fell to Sissoko who provided the first of his three assists on the day, but Mitrovic's run into the box combined with SIssoko's shot fakes also pulled the Norwich defense out of position to open the gap that both Gini and Ayoze found and could have scored from. If Wijnaldum's aim had not been true when he broke through on goal? Mitrovic was poised in perfect position for a tap in.
Mitrovic would have an important role to play in Newcastle's second goal as well. Fabriccio Coloccini spotted him making a run through the center of Norwich's formation and attempted to find him with a long ball over the top. The attempt was played a little long, but forced John Ruddy to play it out for the throw-in which started the move for Gini's second goal. On top of that, Mitrovic pulled Bassong to the corner of the 18-yard box which in turn pulled Russell Martin and created the gap through which Gini sprinted to get onto the end of Sissoko's cross.
When Mitrovic again found a gap in the Norwich defense, there would be no mistake in finding him as the provider was this time Sissoko who provided a brilliant ball that left the striker a little bit to do in order to claim his second goal in as many Premier League matches. He made no mistake in any part of his finish as his chested control took him wide of the defender and allowed him space to lineup a bullet left-footed shot across John Ruddy's goal, providing that seminal "Alright! That's what he's supposed to do." moment.
It doesn't stop there. On Newcastle's fifth goal of the match, he had made nearly an identical run to the one he made for his goal although it had been tracked better by Norwich. When Sissoko didn't find him with the cross this time, he repositioned and was again in perfect position had the cross somehow eluded Wijnaldum and would have easily tapped home. In fact, on Gini's fourth goal, there is a case to be made (although the benefit of hindsight will show that he was right to take the shot on) that he should have played a sprinting and open Mitrovic through on goal before taking the shot that ultimately deflected in to the Norwich net.
When he was subbed off, he received quite an ovation and he deserved every single bit of it. While some were ready to write him off following his dismissal against Arsenal, he is now showing exactly the qualities that would have drawn the eyes of Graham Carr upon him during his time at Anderlecht. Much like with Moussa Sissoko's performance, Newcastle are going to need to see more of this type of play in the Derby and moving forward in the season, but he hardly put a foot wrong against Norwich and has set himself a firm base from which to continue influencing the Newcastle attack.