Mikel Merino

Newcastle United 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion: Nothing up North

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  • Ten shots each in dull encounter
  • Brighton takes four of six from NUFC

There wasn’t a lot to like from Brighton and Hove Albion’s visit to Newcastle United, embedded in a 0-0 Saturday score line at St. James’ Park that only needs the numbers to tell the story.

Newcastle sits a point above the drop zone, while Brighton sits four points clear of 18th.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Newcastle United had most of the ball but struggled to connect with crosses or scoop up loose chances in the 18.

At the other end, Shane Duffy nodded a cross wide of the goal.

Mikel Merino‘s long through ball to Dwight Gayle yielded a chance, but Mat Ryan collected his rebound before Joselu could nab the loose ball.

Glenn Murray was offside when he missed a back post sitter in the 27th minute.

Joselu had a 40th minute low rip off more Merino playmaking but it dragged wide and Ryan probably had the angle covered.

Duffy headed over goal for a second time in the match off a 42nd minute corner.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ryan made an outstanding reaction save on a deflected Isaac Hayden effort, and Jamaal Lascelles headed the ensuing corner wide of the near post.

Karl Darlow got low to collect a Pascal Gross free kick in the 54th.

Gayle forced a fantastic save out of Ryan off a Christian Atsu cross five minutes later, and Darlow nearly matched that stop with his save on a Lewis Dunk header.

PL preview: Newcastle United vs. Man City

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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  • Man City chasing 18th straight win
  • Newcastle seek 2nd straight win, relegation breathing room
  • City lead PL by 12 points; Newcastle up to 15th

Manchester City ticked one gigantic box of history in the last two weeks, but now Pep Guardiola‘s side must continue its dominance and survive another 19 games if they are to achieve the unthinkable — finish a Premier League season unbeaten.

Up next is a trip to St. James’ Park to take on Rafa Benitez‘s relegation-battling, up-for-sale Newcastle United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

With the PL title all but sewn up with half the season still to play — an unthinkable phrase when considering last season’s first-year struggles under Guardiola — the substance to this City side is clear for all to see, but it’s the style with which they’ve thrashed any and all comers this season which is more impressive: 60 goals scored, to just 12 conceded. Thursday will mark the two-month anniversary since City last conceded multiple goals in a game (to woeful West Bromwich Albion, a side without a win in 18 games), just as Saturday will mark three months to the day since Guardiola’s men last failed to score multiple goals in a game.

Of the PL’s top 10 goal scorers (may of which have now played one more game ahead of Wednesday), three don the Sky Blue of City — Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero (both with 12) and Gabriel Jesus (8). Of the PL’s top 10 assist maker thus far, again, three are City players — Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Leroy Sane (all with 8) are tied atop the chart, each with two more than anyone else.

[ MORE: Boxing Day blues for Man Utd; joy for Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs ]

The task facing Newcastle is a tough one, to put it tightly. It’s not much, but it’s somewhere to begin: the Magpies were improved and borderline prolific on their last outing, picking up a surprising 3-2 win away to West Ham United. The result snapped a nine-game winless skid (eight loss) in PL play, and vaulted Newcastle out of the relegation zone. Even after Tuesday’s Boxing Day fixtures, Benitez’s men have three places and one point of cushion between themselves an 18th place.

INJURIES: Newcastle — OUT: Alexsandar Mitrovic (back); QUESTIONABLE: Mikel Merino (leg), Isaac Hayden (knock) | Man City — OUT: John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (knee)

What they’re saying

Benitez, on ending the skid: “It’s difficult when you have a bad run but we analyzed the games and deserved more from four or five of them. But we lost confidence and it was very important for us to win. It was important for us to have a good performance against a good team, and they started well with pace, then later the long balls and second balls, but we dealt with things well.”

Guardiola, on managing a squad like City’s: “I was a football player. I understand the players in that when they are substituted and don’t play, they are sad and upset. I understand our job is to try and search to find a weakness but I try to have the best relationship with my players as possible. Sometimes, I think Gabriel Jesus deserves to play – and Bernardo Silva and Eliaquim Mangala. The important thing is that they have respect between each other. … I have a lot of respect for Sergio Aguero and all he has done, what he does and what he will do in the future. He will decide everything about his future and his life.”

Prediction

At this point of their record-breaking run, it’s not a matter of if Man City will win, but a matter of by how many will they do so? The answer, on Wednesday, should be, “by at least two or three.”

Benitez: Newcastle “needed a victory like this”

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Newcastle United’s nine-match winless run is over, and Rafa Benitez is relieved to see his charges get what he believes is a deserved trip back out of the drop zone.

[ RECAP: West Ham 2-3 Newcastle ]

Benitez has lamented his team’s lack of depth since the end of the August window but rarely proffered negatives about his players or their effort.

So when the Magpies responded from a rough start to get goals from two unexpected sources and a third from Christian Atsu, Benitez was essentially glowing from the visitors’ side at the London Stadium as Newcastle beat West Ham 3-2.

From the BBC:

“We needed a performance and a victory like this. We were pushing really hard against Everton and hit the post twice. I am really pleased for the lads and the fans. it is fantastic.

“It was important to win to show that we could doing the things we are doing. We know it will be difficult to the end but we know that we can win and achieve things doing things as we are.”

Mikel Merino, Jonjo Shelvey, and Isaac Hayden were all unavailable to Benitez through injury or suspension, necessitating a partnership between Mo Diame and Henri Saivet. The latter hadn’t started for Benitez in the Premier League, and scored a free kick after giving away a goal to Marko Arnautovic early in the match.

It doesn’t get easy for the Magpies over the festive season, with a visit from behemoth Manchester City next. But the Magpies will defend to the death and hope for good things from a visit from old pal Chris Hughton and Brighton and then a trip to Stoke City.

Newcastle 0-1 Everton: Rooney wins it for the Toffees

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  • Wayne Rooney scores only goal of the game
  • Everton unbeaten in four PL games
  • Newcastle have lost 7 of last 8
  • Shelvey sent off late on

Everton beat Newcastle United 1-0 at St James’ Park on Wednesday as Sam Allardyce remains unbeaten since taking charge of the Toffees.

Wayne Rooney popped up with the only goal of the game (his fifth in his last four games in the PL) in the first half as Newcastle hit both posts but failed to really get going as Everton held on for all three points and Jonjo Shelvey was sent off in stoppage time.

With the win Everton are in 10th place on 22 points, while Newcastle are just one point above the relegation zone as their former boss Allardyce inflicted another defeat on Rafael Benitez’s men.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Cuco Martina brought down USMNT man DeAndre Yedlin on the edge of the box early on with Benitez asking for a penalty kick, but the foul was adjudged to be outside the box.

Everton went close as Martina whipped in a delightful cross but Dominic Calvert-Lewin couldn’t get on the end of it.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Newcastle then broke with Matt Ritchie smashing the post with a fine effort but Everton went ahead after a howler from their goalkeeper.

A cross from the right was headed towards goal by Aaron Lennon and Darlow made a real hash of his save with Rooney popping up to prod home and put Everton 1-0 up with his 15th goal against Newcastle in his career.

Mikel Merino hit the post from 30 yards out as Newcastle went close to an equalizer in the first half but Everton were good value for their lead at half time.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Newcastle fought back in the second half as Florin Lejuene’s header just missed Mo Diame at the back post but Everton always looked dangerous on the break.

The home side huffed and puffed but Big Sam sent on another center back in Phil Jagielka to see the game it. It worked a treat.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Late on Shelvey was sent off for a lunging tackle as the Magpies’ misery was complete.

PL AT HALF: Man City, Leicester rolling; Everton leads away

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Seven Premier League matches are rioting through Wednesday, with five Top Four contenders in play.

[ LIVE: Stream every Premier League game ]

Swansea City 0-2 Manchester City

David Silva made it 1-0 before a seeing-eye free kick from Kevin De Bruyne (above) doubled the advantage.

Southampton 0-3 Leicester City

Riyad Mahrez, Shinji Okazaki, and Andy King have all scored as Claude Puel‘s Foxes are helping him extract revenge from his former side.

Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth

It’s a rainy, rainy night at Old Trafford, where Romelu Lukaku has headed a Juan Mata cross past Asmir Begovic.

Liverpool 0-0 West Bromwich Albion

The Reds haven’t found too many ways past the packed-in Baggies.

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Brighton and Hove Albion

Unlikely goal scorer Serge Aurier‘s 40th minute goal has Spurs ahead at Wembley, as the Ivorian’s cross drifted over the keeper and into the upper 90.

West Ham United 0-0 Arsenal

Not much cooking at the London Stadium.

Newcastle United 0-1 Everton

Matt Ritchie and Mikel Merino have struck the wood work for Newcastle, whose goalkeeper helped Wayne Rooney nab another Toffees goal.