position this season, a bit like we did at the start of last season, where we were just playing open, expansive football and expecting to score three or four goals and not really concentrating as we should on our defending. This league is unforgiving in that sense - if you’re not on your game in all areas you’ll get punished.
Newcastle felt like a really big match – on the back of the Tottenham game, defeat would have made it three losses in seven and left you seven points off top spot. Did it feel like a massive game to you?
Yes it did. And actually before kick-off the manager showed us the league table to emphasise that point and it didn’t make pretty reading. I don’t really look at the league table until Christmas normally, but when we all saw it that day it hit home and we thought ‘wow, we need to shake ourselves up.’ Thankfully it turned out to be a good day for us.
It’s obviously been disappointing to concede first in a lot of games this season but do you take heart from the response the team have shown to come back in games?
Yes definitely. It shows the character in the squad when we’ve gone behind and still found a way back into a game. But the more times you go behind, at some point you’re going to get beaten and that’s happened a couple of times already this season and we need to make sure we steer clear of that from now on.
The defence has chipped in well with goals so far, with Evans, Evra, Buttner and Rafael all on the scoresheet. That must be positive for the team?
Yeah it’s been good to see. Opportunities come along and you’ve just got to take them and that’s what they’ve done. I’d like to get in on the act, of course, too. I thought my time had come at Southampton [Rio hit the post just before van Persie's second goal] but it wasn’t to be.
Presumably you enjoyed the outcome at Southampton though, as a lover of last-minute victories?
Yeah that was unbelievable and it was brilliant for Robin to get a hat-trick on the day. But again you just don’t want to put yourself in those situations where you have to come back and pull victories from the jaws of defeat. I’m sure the manager’s heart is beating