Ciaran Clark

Newcastle stuns misfiring Chelsea

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Chelsea couldn’t find a clinical edge and Isaac Hayden scored in stoppage time as Newcastle United beat Chelsea 1-0 at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

The visitors had 70 percent of the ball and a massive edge in shots, but couldn’t capitalize on the few chances they found behind the back line.

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Isaac Hayden powered a header home off a stoppage-time set piece to give the Magpies a shocking win and 29 points, seven clear of the Bottom Three.

Chelsea stays on 39 points, five ahead of fifth-place Manchester United. The Red Devils play Liverpool on Sunday.


Three things we learned

1. Fortunate Magpies get big payoff late: Hayden had not scored in a year and turned Saint-Maximin’s desperate cross of a poorly-cleared corner kick past Kepa Arrizabalaga. A solid if unspectacular midfielder, Hayden has dealt with a lot and might’ve left the Northeast due to family reasons. He’s stayed, Steve Bruce has him confident, and the Magpies have a win against all odds.

2. Newcastle’s low block heroics highlight Chelsea need: Frank Lampard‘s attackers were limited to shots from distance, as Steve Bruce’s men might be even better than they were under Rafa Benitez when asked to defend deep. A lot of this is due to spending on attackers who keep defenders honest, but that doesn’t excuse Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi‘s inability to produce much. The former had Dubravka beaten but failed to find finish on the day.

The defense-first style can be boring to, well, everyone including the home fans and managers loathe when it’s employed against them. But Newcastle has now beaten Chelsea, Spurs, and Manchester United this year, also drawing Man City. The expected goals table says Newcastle is having one of the luckiest seasons on record, but don’t bother the Geordies with that right now.

3. Lampard waits for Abraham: Related to point No. 1, Lampard showed faith that his struggling striker would show up late. After all, the 22-year-old has 13 goals and three assists this year. Abraham got behind the Magpies back line twice and also flicked a ball off the bar, but it was the right move to get Michy Batshuayi out there. Alas, it probably should’ve come before the 80th minute.

Man of the Match: Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez were the key parts of the aforementioned low block, and we’d give the honors to Clark. But Hayden, man.


Newcastle loan star Jetro Willems are stretchered off the pitch with his head in his hands are an innocent play out wide, a new worry for the injury-ravaged Magpies.

Then Isaac Hayden pulled up lame after being stretched in a 50-50 with Mason Mount.

The best scoring chance of the early stages came in the 22nd minute, as Kepa Arrizabalaga may have got a finger to Joelinton‘s header off the bar.

Chelsea took hold of the match at the half-hour mark, an offside Tammy Abraham flicking off the bar before Martin Dubravka saved N’Golo Kante’s effort in the 34th.

Newcastle held firm against the attack through five minutes of stoppage time.

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The Magpies opened up a little bit in the second half, and Willian missed a chance to open the scoring in the 53rd.

Cesar Azpilicueta was lively in both halves, and hammered a shot to Dubravka in the 55th.

Newcastle’s physical and aggressive back line held firm, big challenges and clearances from Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez on show.

Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin teamed up to tee up Joelinton, but the Brazilian drove his 88th minute shot wide of the goal.

Soon after, Saint-Maximin sent a half-desperation, half-pinpoint cross to the back post for Hayden to turn past Arrizabalaga. Insane.

Bruce: USMNT’s Yedlin possible broken hand amongst five Newcastle injuries

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Newcastle had a historically bad day with injuries, and it’s affected their American right back.

DeAndre Yedlin may have broken his hand in the Magpies’ 3-0 loss to Leicester City on Wednesday, which saw the Magpies play almost a full half with 10 men despite not seeing a red card.

“In the next week or so we hope to get some back (but) we have 10 out of 22 outfield players injured,” he grumbled. “It’s horrendous.”

Newcastle used all three of their substitutions by the time the second half kicked off. Jonjo Shelvey, Javi Manquillo, and Jetro Willems limped off the pitch, and Fabian Schar joined them just after halftime.

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And it was worse than we knew, as Yedlin played through the pain despite his injury. The Magpies were already without Allan Saint-Maximin, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett, and Matt Ritchie.

“It’s ludicrous, three players with hamstring injuries in a game and it’s because they have to play tired. I said before Christmas that the amount of games is ludicrous and this is the result.”

PL Preview: Man United v. Newcastle

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  • Manchester United (25 pts) sits 8th in PL table
  • Newcastle United (25 pts) sits 9th in PL table
  • Last meeting: Newcastle 1-0 Man United

Manchester United’s Boxing Day match could not be bigger for the club unless the Red Devils were fighting for a Premier League title. Which they aren’t. Which is exactly why it is imperative that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer engineers a victory at Old Trafford over Newcastle United, with kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday, live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Solskjaer has led the team to just two wins over its last six Premier League games, and with a host of potential slippery matches leading up to a date with Liverpool on January 19, all eyes will be on the Norwegian boss who most certainly is running out of rope. He could have reinforcements available soon, with Paul Pogba likely to start after he came off the bench against Watford, while Diogo Dalot could also make his return from a two-month injury and Eric Bailly is still out but getting closer.

Manchester United’s last result is just plain ugly – a 2-0 loss to bottom-feeders Watford that set alarm bells off all over the club. With games against plucky Burnley and Arsenal under new management coming up in the following days, this game against Newcastle feels like a turning point one way or another.

On the other side of the coin, Newcastle comes into the match sitting ninth in the Premier League table, level with Manchester United on points. That position marks a huge jump from where many expected the Magpies to be, a massive feather in Steve Bruce‘s cap. He has led the Magpies to three wins in their last four despite a host of injuries to the squad, sticking with Miguel Almiron through his early Newcastle struggles until he provided the winner against Crystal Palace last time out.

Even so, this match marks the start of a brutal festive fixture run for Newcastle, who still must navigate games against Everton, Wolves, and Chelsea through mid-January. A result at Old Trafford and potentially doing the double over Manchester United would give Newcastle some breathing room ahead of more difficult matches.

Injuries/suspensions

Man United: OUT – Eric Bailly (knee), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (knee). QUESTIONABLE – Diogo Dalot (groin).

Newcastle: OUT – Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Jamaal Lascelles (knee), Ciaran Clark (calf), Matt Ritchie (ankle), Ki Sung-Yeung (knock). QUESTIONABLE – Paul Dummett (groin), Jetro Willems (groin).


Projected lineups

Man United: de Gea; Shaw, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Pogba, Rashford, Mata, James; Martial.

Newcastle: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lejune, Fernandez, Schar, Manquillo; Shelvey, Hayden, Almiron, Atsu; Joelinton.


What they’re saying

Man United boss Solskjaer on loss v. Newcastle: “It’s going to be difficult to break Newcastle down. I expect that we’ll get the fair share of the possession. We were disappointed when we had more than 70% possession up there [at St. James Park] and we lost the game.”

Newcastle manager Bruce on next games: “You think you’ve done it all in the Premier League and then all of a sudden, we’ve got Manchester United, Everton and Leicester in a short period time, difficult games. We haven’t done anything yet. We’ve given ourselves a nice platform but we’re only halfway there, so we’ve got to show the same resilience and spirit that we’ve shown over the last few months and see where it takes us.”


Prediction

Newcastle is in good form, and that should boost them in this match. Still, Manchester United is the far more desperate team at Old Trafford and that should go a long way in the Boxing Day meeting. The Red Devils will find it difficult to break down a bunkered-in Newcastle looking to save its energy for multiple difficult games, but they will find a way through in a hard-fought 2-0 win for the home side.

Newcastle win dampened by Saint-Maximin injury

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Steve Bruce has seen Newcastle up to 10th in the table after topping Southampton 2-1, but the news wasn’t all good at St. James Park after the victory.

The Magpies boss confirmed that Allan Saint-Maximin  could be out “for weeks” after pulling up deep into stoppage time, coming off in the 96th minute after all three Newcastle substitutes had been used.

Bruce partly blamed himself for the injury, claiming he nearly rested the Frenchman for the match. “I nearly left him out today,” Bruce said after the game, “and, now, I wish I had done because he could be out for weeks. I’m disappointed with myself. We don’t know how serious it is. I kick myself if he is out for a long time. The way he pulled up – let’s hope it’s not too serious.”

The manager claims Saint-Maximin was “fatigued” but risked him anyways. He could have brought the 22-year-old off at some point during the second half, but with the game level until Federico Fernandez’s 87th minute winner, he chose to risk it further looking for a winner. Bruce used his third and final substitute in the 85th minute to haul off Miguel Almiron still two minutes before the eventual winning goal was scored. And it wasn’t just Steve Bruce who thought he could miss significant time.

Saint-Maximin struggled with a muscle injuries earlier in the season, missing games against Norwich City, Watford, and Liverpool while getting treatment. Since returning in full in early October, Saint-Maximin has played in every Premier League game for Newcastle, completing at least 80 minutes in eight of those nine games and finishing 90 minutes four times.

The injury is poorly timed with Newcastle set to begin a heavy set of fixtures. They take on Burnley next weekend before games against Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Everton, and Leicester City all in an eleven-day span through the holiday season. Saint-Maximin is a critical player to have go down, with a 7.07 WhoScored rating, ranking third on the team in that metric. He has completed 4.5 dribbles a game this season, which ranks second in the Premier League behind Wilfried Zaha‘s 4.6 despite having played five fewer games and 550 fewer minutes.

Ciaran Clark also went down during the game, with the Newcastle defender hauled off at halftime after suffering a calf injury.

Premier League Preview: Aston Villa v. Newcastle United

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Two teams having very different seasons meet Monday when Newcastle United heads to Villa Park to face Aston Villa (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Steve Bruce will lead his fortuitous Newcastle side against his former side, one he nearly led to Premier League promotion. The Villans have been a fun watch this season, but have not seen performances turn into points.

Villa has lost three-straight league matches, albeit against strong sides Liverpool, Man City, and Wolves, and after this face Manchester United, Arsenal, and Leicester City.

Newcastle is unbeaten in three, turning a Wolves draw into wins over Bournemouth and West Ham.

The Magpies are up to 14th and sit closer to fifth than the drop zone, while Villa is just a point clear of the Bottom Three despite some impressive performances this season.


Injuries/suspensions

Aston Villa: OUT — Jed Steer. QUESTIONABLE — Jack Grealish,

Newcastle United: OUT — Jamaal Lascelles, Sean Longstaff, Matt Ritchie. QUESTIONABLE — Florian Lejeune, Ciaran Clark


Probable lineups

Aston Villa: Heaton, Targett, Mings, Konsa, Guilbert, Nakamba, Luiz, McGinn, Grealish, El Ghazi, Wesley.

Newcastle United: Dubravka; Willems, Fernandez, Schar, Dummett, Yedlin; Hayden, Shelvey; Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton.


What they’re saying

Villa boss Dean Smith on playmaker Jack Grealish: “The fact he hasn’t got called up, we’ve spoken at length about that. He can’t control that but what he can control is he can keep performing, making sure he keeps the pressure on the people who have to make them decisions. He’s ready. He’s one of the fittest lads there, always doing extras after training as well. He’s fit and ready.”

Newcastle’s Steve Bruce on electric, eccentric Allan Saint-Maximin“He’s only 22 and he’s got more outfits than I’ve seen. He’s different and I’m sure at times he’s going to cause me a few problems. But in all of that, deep down, he’s a decent kid. He’s okay, a bit different, but we all have to manage these different individuals, and he’s certainly one. He likes an ear-ring. He gives me £100 every other day when he forgets to take it out! In that respect, I’ve got a few quid off him already. But he’s a good kid, he’s all right. The players like him. He’s daft, he’s off the wall and he’s likeable.”


Prediction

A Villa win could seem like a decent bet, but so do goals. And the way Newcastle has defended is feast or famine this season. We’re gonna go for goals, with Grealish, Saint-Maximin, Wesley, and maybe even Miguel Almiron on the score sheet. 2-2.