Very quietly, the addition of Loic Remy on loan from Queens Park Rangers to Newcastle has been one of the best moves of last summer's transfer window. The in-form striker proved that to be the case once again against Stoke City, notching a brace in Newcastle's 5-1 win.
It wasn't all roses for Remy, of course. He actually could have had a hat trick were it not for a first-half penalty that was saved with Stoke City leading 1-0. He stepped up to the spot after Stoke City saw their second man sent off but couldn't equalize.
From Newcastle's official Twitter account:
42' - RED CARD for Stoke City. Marc Wilson pulls back Loic Remy as last man. The visitors are down to nine men.— Newcastle United FC (@NUFCOfficial) December 26, 2013
44' - Sorensen saves from Loic Remy! It remains 1-0 to Stoke City.— Newcastle United FC (@NUFCOfficial) December 26, 2013
But it wouldn't take Remy long to make good on that failed opportunity, as he soon scored shortly thereafter.
And he would go on to give Newcastle an insurmountable lead in the second half, this time with his head.
Remy with the simplest of headers, diverting Sissoko's header into the back of the net. Daylight between the teams. 3-1 to #NUFC.— Newcastle United FC (@NUFCOfficial) December 26, 2013
For his efforts, WhoScored.com gave him a 9.0 match rating, crediting him with a 97 percent pass accuracy, 48 total touches and five shots on goal. Somewhat surprisingly, however, he was not named Man of the Match—that distinction went to Hatem Ben Arfa, with a 9.6 match rating.
Still, no one will doubt how important Remy has been to Newcastle's revitalization this season. As OptaJoe notes, his brace against Stoke is just par for the course this campaign:
3 - Loic Remy has now scored three braces in the Premier League this season, only Luis Suarez (5) has more. Salvo.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 26, 2013
He now has 10 goals and two assists on the season and a sparkling 7.25 match rating from WhoScored.
Yes, Remy's brace on the afternoon came against a nine-man Stoke side. Yes, his first goal was aided by a Stoke deflection and his second was cleverly chipped onto the back post for the easiest of finishes. But Remy again showed an ability to put himself in dangerous positions on the pitch, draw fouls with his excellent movement and finish his opportunities when they've presented themselves.
He's a nightmare for any back four, one that Stoke will be happy to wake up from after this contest.
It won't be easy for Newcastle to retain his services, that much is for sure. You can bet he's caught the attention of a number of big sides around Europe, all ready to splash the cash to bring him aboard. But while they have him, you can bet Newcastle will continue to enjoy his sparkling form.