Rewind just one year and Newcastle's back line was almost completely different. Only Fabian Schar has remained a vital starter in the defence, with the back line being mostly overhauled. The results are there to show as well, as after 11 games last year the Geordies had shipped 24 goals, compared to only nine in the first 11 matches of this season.
The likes of Ciaran Clark, Jamal Lewis and Emil Krafth have either left the club or feature sporadically now compared to last year, but these were all names who featured predominantly in previous back fours or fives. Many fans had called for new defenders following the Saudi backed takeover last season, and the owners acted quickly, bringing in the likes of Matt Targett and Dan Burn to the club in the January transfer window.
Matt Targett slotted nicely into the left back position, taking Lewis' position in doing so, and quickly made the position his own becoming popular among fans in the process. The 6'7 Dan Burn also took to the centre back role like a duck to water. Quality left footed centre back's are a valuable commodity in modern football, making Dan Burn look like a very good piece of business following his arrival from Brighton.
Arguably the best defensive signing in January however was Kieran Trippier, who joined the Geordies from Athletico Madrid. He's been one of it not the best player on the pitch for Newcastle since his arrival, consistently taking the captain's armband in the absence of regular club captain Jamal Lascelles.
It's not only Trippier's defensive skills that make him a fan favourite though, with his attacking skills also being a big value to a sometimes goal shy Newcastle side. He's already hit three free kicks for the club, including a superb one earlier this season against Manchester City. The devastation surrouding his foot injury last February only goes to show how much he brings to Newcastle's side.
This summer saw more defensive acquisitions, with the standout being the signing of Sven Botman from French side Lille. He joined this summer after multiple strong season in France, which included a famous title win which stopped PSG's domination of French football. This quality and confidence has carried over, with Botman looking like a Rolls Royce in a defence that has been so solid so far this season.
The most underrated signing may perhaps be Nick Pope, the goalkeeper who arrived from Burnley following their relegation. Taking Martin Dubravka's place in goal, Pope has looked a solid fit so far, making a number of key saves for his side so far this season. With the World Cup just around the corner and Pope vying for the number one shirt in Gareth Southgate's squad, it's no surprise that he has been so solid this season.
With Newcastle breaking into the top four this season, it's about time that their back four finally got some credit where it's due. For a long time Newcastle were known to have an average and sometimes poor defensive line, but it looks like these days are gone for now.