When looking at 2018 from a January-December perspective, rather than the football calendar route, it has not been a bad year for Newcastle United.
Granted the current situation at St James’ Park could be a hell of a lot better in regards to the owner, how the club is being run and giving Rafa Benitez some money to be able to spend on strengthening his team where needed.
However, if results were the only thing to be taken into account, things in 2018 did not go too badly for them.
The Magpies turned a disastrous run of form around in the second half of last season, with seven wins in their remaining 17 games to ensure they played Premier League football this year.
Newcastle’s campaign has started similarly to the previous, although they have shown signs of replicating what they did with three consecutive victories before their defeat to West Ham United at the weekend.
But, if it were not for these two players, there would have been a very good chance that the Magpies would have been playing Championship football this season.
Arguably, one of Benitez’s best ever decisions at Newcastle was to bring Martin Dubravka to St. James’ Park.
Originally brought to the Premier League on an initial loan deal, they completed a permanent deal for him in the summer for a bargain fee thought to be worth around £3.6million per Transfermarkt, proving how vital he is to them.
The Slovakia international made a number of crucial saves to keep the club in the top-flight, whilst also providing them with four clean sheets in his 12 appearances, including one on his debut against Manchester United on his debut.
The 29-year-old, who has been linked with a move to Juventus recently, has continued that fine form this season as well, having already matched the previous campaign’s tally in the 15 games he has featured in.
Mo Diame has managed to turn things around for Newcastle – and himself – drastically in 2018.
The Senegal international found it difficult at the beginning, however, he has since completely flipped the script and become a key component of Benitez’s side and was instrumental in helping the club retain their Premier League status.
He has been able to use his main skills – strength – consistently, which has helped the Magpies in the middle of the field and given them the opportunity to launch counter-attacks when he has won the ball back.
The 31-year-old may not get on the scoresheet as often as some would like, however, he certainly makes up for it with the role he plays in midfield, allowing others to move forward knowing that he is at the back in case of a break.
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