RIYAD MAHREZ would probably quite like to play like Miguel Almiron these days.
Jack Grealish most certainly would – as embarrassed as he would be to admit it.
Because pretty much ever since the Â£100million England man mockingly compared team-mate Mahrezâs game to that of Almiron during Manchester Cityâs title celebrations last season, the Paraguayan has been on fire.
Almiron has been in particularly devastating form this month with five goals in as many games, including a brilliant winner here.
That is two more than Grealish and Mahrez have managed all season for City.
âPlaying like Almironâ, as was half-cut Grealishâs snide and slurring put-down during those festivities six months ago, is certainly no insult now.
Almironâs eighth of the season for club and country proved the difference, coming in between strikes from England strikers Callum Wilson and Harry Kane.
It racked up Newcastleâs fourth win in five unbeaten league games, pushing Eddie Howeâs men into the top four and two points off Spurs.
Tottenham and the rest of the Big Six establishment knew money-bags Toon were coming to get them. They just hoped it would not be this soon.
There had been some doubt whether Newcastleâs Samba star Bruno Guimaraes would make the trip following the birth of his and his girlfriendâs first child on Friday.
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But the bleach-haired Brazilian did start in the heart of the visitorsâ midfield after travelling down on his own to North London.
Spurs however were missing the heartbeat of their team with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg ruled out with a minor injury, along with Cristian Romero.
Ever-reliable Hojbjerg has been Tottenhamâs best player this season but his absence meant a first start since January 19 for Oliver Skipp.
And it was the England Under-21 man who sprung an early attack which ended with Son Heung-min curling on to the roof of the net inside three minutes.
It was an early warning shot for Eddie Howeâs side, who were battered here 5-1 in April but look to be made of far sterner stuff now.
Big-money signings such as the capture of classy Dutchman Sven Botman have helped with that.
But more than anything it is the fact that Howe, assistant Jason Tindall and their staff have had longer to work with a squad still full of a number of players from the Steve Bruce era.
Almiron is the shining example of a player written off as hopeless – most notably by Grealish – who has been transformed under the former Bournemouth boss.
But there are numerous others, from Fabian Schar, to Sean Longstaff, to Joelinton, who made a surprise return from injury here.
The Brazilian, converted from toothless forward to industrious midfielder, beat the offside trap to latch onto Kieran Trippierâs long ball and went down under Emerson Royalâs challenge in the box but nothing was given.
Aussie referee Jarred Gillett had won plaudits for wearing a mic where fans could hear him clarify his decisions during his final A-League match back in 2019.
Tottenham supporters would have loved to hear him explain his thinking when he allowed Wilson to break the deadlock just after the half-hour.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had rushed out to control a long ball but was then blocked off by Wilson, who then brilliantly fired into the empty net with his weaker left foot from 25 yards.
Gillett gave it and VAR, eventually, backed him up, despite Wilson appearing to put his arm across the Spurs keeperâs body.
Tottenham were furious and Rodrigo Bentancur was booked for dissent.
But whether the goal should have stood or not, it was hardly the most convincing action from Lloris, who followed it up ten minutes later with a poor kick-out that led to Newcastleâs second.
Sean Longstaff beat Ryan Sessegnon to the Frenchmanâs lofted pass and nodded it to Almiron, who raced past Clement Lenglet like he was not there and then confidently beat Lloris from a tight angle.
It was not the first time Llorisâ distribution has caused problems this season for Spurs. His poor kick straight out of play at West Ham in August led to the Ironsâ equaliser.
The strike had Newcastleâs visiting army of supporters in full voice as the heavens opened and lightning struck above the ground at half-time.
Torrential rain continued into the second half where Conte, now sporting a baseball cap to shield his eyes from the conditions, attempted to gee up his side.
Kane led the charge and it was through the England captain that the hosts got a foothold back into the game.
It came by a corner routine which had seen him net against Wolves earlier this season, only this time it was Lenglet rather than Ivan Perisic to flick on Sonâs corner at the near post, allowing Kane to head home at the far.
Yet after that, despite Conte making numerous subs and tinkering with his formation, Newcastle held firm with relative ease.
It will be a big worry for the Italian, having seen his side fail most of their big tests this season, including the midweek trip to Old Trafford.
As for Howeâs well-drilled, uber-wealthy Newcastle, they are getting better with every week and look to be well ahead of schedule in their Saudi oil-rich era.
And they are being led by a player most expected to be out of the picture – including his Premier League peers.
It appears Grealish taking the mick was the best thing to happen to Miggyâs career.
THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORYâ¦
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