Anthony Gordonwill return to Goodison Park on Thursday evening feeling invincible. The winger is enjoying the best spell of his career and has, it feels almost instantly, gone from a promising prospect to a consistent performer.
The 22-year-old is swiftly becoming one of the faces of this up-and-at-‘em Newcastle United side and his start to the campaign has been electric. Gordon’s six goals and five assists in 13 Premier League appearances do not even tell the whole story of his impact.
He scored winners against Arsenal and, last weekend, Manchester United, found the back of the net against Liverpool and also scored and assisted in the emphatic win over Chelsea. Gordon is relishing the big games — and with Newcastle, sixth in the Premier League, still in with a chance of reaching the Champions League knockout stages and the League Cup semi-finals, there promises to be more to come.
Gordon’s goalscoring exploits — he has now scored in four successive league matches at St James’ Park, a record set by Alan Shearer — are not his only attributes to have come to the fore recently.
The combination of pace, direct play, work rate and desire is exactly what the Gallowgate faithful want to see and what Gordon now regularly delivers. Keep it up and the calls for inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad will only grow louder.
It feels a long time ago that Gordon initially struggled after making the £40 million move to the North East, which could become £45 million through add-ons. His transfer was certainly a hot topic given the price tag and his acclimatisation at his new club was far from smooth.
There was the sight of Gordon spending most of his first season sitting on the substitutes bench. The new signing also made the mistake of throwing a strop and publicly rebuking his manager Eddie Howe for taking him off late on in a game against Brentford in a match he had started on the bench.
Yet, those histrionics — although most probably merely a result of Gordon’s whole-hearted desire — now appear distant memories as he has become an instrumental part of Howe’s team.
Perhaps Howe has had no greater influence on a player than he has on Gordon. The raw ingredients were there but the Newcastle head coach has turned him into a big-game player.
Gordon benefitting from Howe's coaching
It is now common to see Gordon racing up and down the left flank influencing defence as well as attack brimming with the commitment Howe demands but also with a sense of clarity.
Gordon is also dependable; just when injuries and suspension ravage Newcastle, he is an ever-present. It is in stark contrast to the hit-and-miss teenager who broke onto the scene at Everton in 2018 and became more accustomed to relegation battles than top-of-the-table clashes.
Gordon scored seven goals and provided eight assists in 78 appearances for his boyhood club, meaning he only had two more goal contributions than yellow cards, which led to some accusing him of petulance rather than producing.
His departure from Goodison Park in January was also acrimonious. Reportedly refusing to train certainly did not go down well with Evertonians who quickly viewed him as an asset that they would like to sell.
Gordon was on the bench for Newcastle’s visit to Everton in April but did come on in the second half to a chorus of jeers. He will start on Thursday knowing what is likely to come his way from the home crowd, but will be keen to show his former supporters what he is now all about.
Despite his great record at St James’ Park, Gordon has scored just once away from home this season: in the 8-0 hammering against Sheffield United in September. Slotting home in familiar surroundings would be in keeping with Gordon’s valorous approach.