Kieran Trippier’s ability to reinvent himself is perhaps his greatest asset – from shaven-headed stalwart under Sean Dyche to international recognition at Tottenham. He broke the two-team stranglehold over La Liga with Diego Simeone, and now back in England, he’s the talisman on Tyneside as Newcastle look to secure Champions League qualification.
With 10 games to go, Newcastle have their fate in their own hands. Four consecutive wins, including a 2-0 victory over top-four rivals Manchester United and a 5-1 thrashing of West Ham midweek have catapulted the Magpies into third place, level on points with Manchester United and three above Tottenham with a game in hand over the North London side. Trippier’s impact in both boxes has cajoled a team who were struggling with the weight of expectation following the World Cup.
Trippier’s set-piece deliveries have provided game-winning moments against Wolves and United in recent weeks, taking the 32-year-old to six assists for the season – the most he has managed in a single Premier League campaign, reinvention, reinvention, reinvention. Trippier has evolved from the experienced head of a defensive setup that have kept 13 clean sheets to the proactive dead-ball specialist who can take games into his own hands.
Against United, Trippier not only kept the electric Marcus Rashford quiet but then popped up to provide the assist for Callum Wilson to double Newcastle’s lead. It was the type of all-round display that fans have come to expect for both club and country. Against West Ham, he led by example with the captain’s armband and made five clearances, three key passes, and won three out of three aerial duels.
Whilst talk over England’s right-back options continues to be a major point of discussion for many people, there is a reason Trippier remains in the conversation. He offers availability and consistency on a level matched only by England teammate Kyle Walker.
Trippier hasn’t missed a Premier League game for Newcastle this season, whilst also placing amongst the top 10 on key attacking metrics such as through balls, crosses into the penalty area and shot-creating actions, and it’s the regularity of these performances that have made him a shoo-in for the division’s team of the season.
Newcastle’s defensive numbers speak for themselves, having conceded just 19 goals all season, but Trippier is by no means a passenger in this well-oiled machine. He ranks amongst the top 10 for tackles won and dribblers tackled, according to FBref.
Across the pitch, Trippier is impacting the game with energising moments of brilliance that speak to his ability to lead by example. Newcastle have a young and inexperienced squad, so Trippier acts as Howe’s eyes and ears on the pitch to raise levels in times of doubt. Newcastle are a team who dig deep and react well to adversity, which is a testament to Trippier’s strength of character.
Newcastle have lost just once at home this season — a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on February 18 that saw them go down to 10 men within 22 minutes after going down 2-0. With Howe’s men facing two consecutive games on the road against Brentford and Aston Villa before hosting Tottenham, the next fortnight will provide another huge test of their credentials, and one that Trippier will be key to navigating.
By: Sam Tabuteau / @TabuteauS
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Visionhaus / Getty Images