Having bagged four goals and two assists so far this term and terrorised opponents on many occasions, there’s no doubting what a fine contribution Anthony Gordon’s having at Newcastle United.
While it wasn’t all plain sailing when he first joined last January for a whopping £45 million as he adapted to life at St. James’ Park, he’s rapidly gone about truly stamping his mark this season, with his latest match-winning showing against Arsenal further underlining his magical form at present.
Establishing himself as Eddie Howe’s first-choice on the left flank and quickly becoming a fan favourite, the fact he’s started 13 of the 15 games he’s been available for serves as a testament to his impact.
Clearly highly rated by Howe due to his immense output on both sides of the ball and exceptional dedication, his manager’s recent comments aptly underline this. “He has got so much ability, so much to give and he has got the attitude to go with it as well,” he insisted. “He has got that desire to improve, I see it every day in training, it is great to see him rewarded with that. He has been a joy to work with and he is reaping the benefits.”
While his most tangible production comes on the offensive end, there’s no denying what a power of work he gets through out of possession. Tireless, tenacious, ultra-fit and with an insatiable appetite for work, the way he helps set the tone for his teammates to follow in terms of his pressing, tracking back and aggression has been very impressive indeed.
Fearless in his approach, relishing hunting down his prey and never afraid of physical confrontations, he’s been a huge asset in terms of winning back possession and forcing turnovers.
A real unsettling presence and adhering brilliantly to Howe’s demands, the only real downside is the yellow cards he picks up courtesy of his propensity of being overzealous in the challenge at times.
Bringing some real directness and unpredictability in an attacking sense, he’s been a colossal handful for defenders to deal with due to his movement, technical skills and athleticism.
To start with the first aspect listed, and his smart movement, timing of his runs, alertness to gaps to exploit and knowledge of when his marker is unbalanced or ball watching has ensured he’s wreaked havoc.
Things have only been compounded for his opponents by his searing pace and the way he starts his runs away from his opponents so he gains speed and momentum without being initially impeded. How he instinctively jets into the box to be a viable option is another bonus to elevate his menace, with him assessing scenarios shrewdly more often than not to then move accordingly.
The benefits attached to the aforementioned are also evident in the form of him drawing adversaries out of position to manufacture room for colleagues to exploit.
A real livewire with the ball at his feet, opponents have found him a nuisance to combat, for his blistering acceleration and wicked top speed, in combination with his agility, balance, crafty array of manoeuvres, capacity to hold off foes and ability to go either way mean he’s been a nightmare.
“Anthony Gordon brings a feeling of unpredictability to this Newcastle team. He can go left or right and he’s very energetic. This Newcastle side are so good at providing options for any attacking players,” said former star forward Louis Saha.
“He’s got this burst of pace and every time he touches the ball, he can create something. When you have players like Gordon, you have to make sure the defence and midfield provide them with the freedom to play their own game. He’s really hard to defend against and he built his confidence over the summer with England U21s and he’s taken that confidence into his Newcastle form this season.”
Determined, two-footed and improving all the time with his decisions, it’s been brilliant to see him enjoy an uptick in his end product, with his finishing and creative passing crucially letting him reward all his good work with greater regularity.
Parlaying power and finesse and serving as a real difference maker on both ends of the pitch, Gordon’s showing just what a class act he is when fully fit and firing.
Comfortable in Newcastle and now fully in sync with Howe’s tactical framework, he’s now emphatically silencing his critics through his superb displays.
Although he knows he’s by no means the complete article yet, given his formidable mindset and relentless pursuit to refine his craft, expect the 22-year-old to only keep improving in time.
Thriving and relishing taking on the responsibility of playing an even more important role within this exciting Magpies side and rising to the challenge in the Champions League as well, the sky appears to be the limit for what he can accomplish in the future.
For now, though, Gordon will be keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground in the knowledge there’s still plenty of hard yards to put in before he’s a bonafide star and makes a name for himself at international level.
He might not be there yet, but if he continues along on his current trajectory, he’ll be in the world class category sooner rather than later.