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What should we expect from Miguel Almiron’s Premier League debut half-season?

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What’s reasonable to expect from Miguel Almiron in his first half season at Newcastle United?

Remember: I wrote reasonable, not realistic. Newcastle smashing its 14-year transfer record to sign the Paraguayan will have supporters thinking big.

[ MORE: Club-by-club grades ]

First things first, Almiron’s first meaningful minutes for Newcastle will be his first serious match action since the MLS Cup Final on Dec. 9. That means there will be some rust on the wiry playmaker who produced 13 goals and 13 assists for the Five Stripes in 2018.

Next: It’s likely that Rafa Benitez views Almiron as that playmaking No. 10 he’s needed, though there’s no guarantee his closest comparison on the Magpies — Ayoze Perez — won’t be a bit more suited to the job while Almiron gets used to the league.

Speaking of which, Perez is a terrific base line for which to judge Almiron. That won’t happen since Perez was a plucked gem from Tenerife while Almiron cost a club record, but follow me here.

The 25-year-old Perez is only a half-year older than Almiron, but arrived Tyneside at the age of 21. Perez also has Almiron by a half-inch.

Perez arrived at Newcastle having torn apart a lesser league, La Liga2, to the tune of 16 goals and 7 assists. He did not come on like a flash, either, with his first six appearances off the bench.

He scored goals in his next three en route to five by New Year’s Day and seven on the Premier League season, where he was deployed by Alan Pardew as an undersized center striker in two-thirds of his matches.

That Newcastle team, as hard as this is to believe, was nearly as offensively wretched as this season’s iteration. Perez was the second-leading goal scorer, behind Papiss Cisse and ahead of a wayward crowd of Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback (Yes, they were relegated).

Almiron is much more seasoned than Perez, and the Paraguayan’s lesser league of MLS is a lot more physical than La Liga2. Almiron has also been the focal point of a team’s creative center, and will not be thrown off by the responsibility and expectations at a new club. Remember, he cost an MLS expansion team about $8 million.

Benitez may cater to Almiron in a free-ranging role to blood him on the Premier League, ousting Christian Atsu from the lineup instead of Perez at the No. 10.

What’s reasonable, like really reasonable? We’d say a goal — perhaps two given set piece chances — to go with 3-4 assists over his final 14 matches would qualify as a statistical success, but just looking the part and encouraging his owner to back Benitez with similar talent over the summer will be almost as important.

No pressure, kid.

Newcastle comes back to stun Man City (video)

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  • Aguero scores 24 seconds into the game (video)
  • Rondon levels it late
  • Ritchie converts Longstaff-won PK for the win

Newcastle United came from behind to stun Manchester City 2-1 at St. James’ Park, as Rafa Benitez aided his old pals’ Liverpool in their bid to a win a first Premier League title.

Sergio Aguero scored inside of 30 seconds for Man City, but Salomon Rondon and Matt Ritchie scored in the second half for the Magpies.

City is four points behind first place Liverpool, who plays Wednesday, while Newcastle climbs 14th with 24 points. That’s five clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It took less than a half-minute for Man City to go ahead, with David Silva‘s header of a Raheem Sterling cross falling for Aguero to poke home for a perfect start.

It was Aguero’s 15th career goal against Newcastle.

The Magpies didn’t wilt, though, as Christian Atsu saw a deflected shot land on the top of the goal.

Ex-City defender Florian Lejeune was at the heart of keeping the score line 2-0, heading a cross away from goal before blocking an ensuing shot.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The Magpies stuck around thanks to the continued plucky defense prodded by Rafa Benitez.

Isaac Hayden headed a cross back into the mixer that Rondon finished for his sixth of the season.

And no one told a sleepy Fernandinho that Sean Longstaff was behind him, with the young Englishman taking the ball off the midfielder before being fouled in the box. Ederson guessed Matt Ritchie’s direction, but could not stop the Scot’s effort. 2-1.

Willian wins it for Chelsea v. Newcastle (video)

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  • Luiz sets up Pedro opener
  • Clark levels before half for Newcastle
  • Willian scores beauty off Hazard assist
  • Magpies drop into 18th

Stop us if you’ve read this one before: Chelsea has firmed up its Top Four credentials and Newcastle United is back in the drop zone.

Keep reading anyway, as the Blues got goals from Pedro and Willian in an entertaining 2-1 win over the Magpies on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Ciaran Clark scored for Newcastle, who is now a point back of Cardiff City and Southampton. The Magpies host the Bluebirds next weekend.

Chelsea now has a six-point advantage on fifth place Arsenal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pedro made it 1-0 in the ninth minute, as David Luiz played the Spaniard over the top of the Newcastle defense. Ciaran Clark lost Pedro, who chipped Martin Dubravka with the Irish defender draped all over him.

There were not a ton more chances early, with Newcastle center back Florian Lejeune hitting a ball into the hands of Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 27th.

A surprising rush saw a nice flick by Salomon Rondon spring Ayoze Perez on goal but the lunging Spaniard hit the ball wide of his countryman’s near post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Pedro almost regained the lead for Chelsea but was denied by Dubravka in the 47th minute.

Willian restored Chelsea’s lead with a goal that earned a collective gasp from the crowd, as he cut right to earn space past Yedlin for a shot that took a slight turn off Jamaal Lascelles‘ head on its way into goal.

Perez had calls for a penalty unheard, and Willian came close to scoring again at the other end as Chelsea warmed to its attack. Dubravka made the save, but Lascelles was injured in the event.

Rondon missed with a bid to head a Javier Manquillo cross past Arrizabalaga.

Newcastle youngster Sean Longstaff earned a corner with a deflected shot deep in stoppage time. Ritchie’s service was played shot and wasted by Christian Atsu.

Super sub Lukaku leads Man United to victory (video)

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  • Scoreless at half
  • Lukaku scores with first touch
  • Rashford puts it to bed

Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford scored second half goals as Manchester United won its fourth-straight match under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer with a 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Wednesday.

The win moves United three points back of fifth place Arsenal and six back of fourth place Chelsea.

Newcastle United is now one of three teams on 18 points, two points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Marcus Rashford whipped a free post toward the near post that Martin Dubravka parried in the 9th minute.

Newcastle got its first chance when Christian Atsu got behind the defense and made a deft trap, but the Ghanaian’s shot was caught by a stooping David De Gea. Atsu then dribbled at Victor Lindelof before hitting a soft shot that didn’t fool De Gea.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Rashford and Anthony Martial both threatened in the Newcastle final third, but Dubravka was quick to react for the Magpies.

Paul Pogba cut a shot across goal and wide in the 30th.

DeAndre Yedlin found Salomon Rondon with a cross in the 34th minute, but the Venezuelan popped a header over the bar.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

 

Substitute Jonjo Shelvey helped Newcastle to a pair of chances, one an exceptional pass that Ayoze Perez butchered via first touch and the second a mediocre shot that was caught by De Gea.

Lukaku scored with his first touch of the game, as Dubravka spilled a Rashford free kick onto the doorstep.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Shelvey hammered a shot wide in the 69th, and Atsu did the same in the 76th.

Just as Newcastle United appeared to have their finger on the pulse of the match, the Red Devils counter attacked for goal No. 2. Rashford and Lukaku sprang the rush, with Alexis Sanchez providing the assist on the former’s finish.

Hosts Watford snare late point v. Newcastle United

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  • Magpies claim 4 of 6 pts from Hornets
  • Super sub Doucoure scores
  • Dubravka makes several big saves
  • Rondon opens scoring

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Salomon Rondon traded goals as Watford came back to draw Newcastle United 1-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The point keeps Newcastle 15th with 18 points, while Watford is ninth with 28 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Isaac Success won an early dangerous free kick for Watford, but the wall did its job in the face of Gerard Deulofeu‘s effort.

Salomon Rondon had the ball in the goal but was defied by a tight offside call before a chance at the other end; Deulofeu found himself 1v1 with Martin Dubravka in the 16th minute, but the Newcastle keeper made a fine block to keep the match scoreless.

Newcastle took the lead in the 29th minute, as Christian Atsu slid Matt Ritchie down the left wing and Rondon headed the Scot’s cross past Ben Foster for 1-0.

Rondon had another in the goal, but was offside again. He’d have a hat trick if not for the arcane rule.

Dubravka saved a Success rip from distance as the Hornets looked to get it level before the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Mohamed Diame gave away a free kick on the edge of the 18 in the 46th minute, but Roberto Pereyra‘s hit was blocked by the wall.

Doucoure gave the hosts a goal in the 82nd minute, as Deulofeu’s cross was headed past Dubravka.

Rondon laid the ball down for a DeAndre Yedlin shot in the final five minutes, but the American’s vicious effort was off frame.

Doucoure and Success both missed chances to win it late for the hosts, who next travel to Bournemouth. Newcastle hosts Manchester United in its next fixture.