Jetro Willems

Late drama as Man City held to draw at Newcastle

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Manchester City drew 2-2 at Newcastle United on Saturday as their hopes of winning the Premier League title took another big blow.

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After Raheem Sterling put Man City ahead, Jetro Willems made it 1-1 and that’s how it stayed until two early Christmas crackers arrived late on.

Kevin De Bruyne smashed home an incredible strike in the 82nd minute as City thought they had won it, but Jonjo Shelvey curled home an amazing goal of his own in the 88th minute to grab a point for the Magpies.

With the draw Man City could now fall 11 points behind leaders Liverpool, while Newcastle have 16 points.


3 things we learned

1. Subdued Man City fall further behind: Man City didn’t look at it from the start as they were once again subdued. They drew against Shakhtar and narrowly beat Chelsea over the past few days and Pep Guardiola‘s side have looked tired. They lacked energy against Newcastle and struggled to break them down, as their title hopes look all but over and we aren’t even in December yet.

2. Almiron finally delivers: There was a huge smile on the face of a Paraguayan international at St James’ and it masked a lot of his relief. Almiron delivered his first assist in the Premier League to set up Newcastle’s opener and after a tough run since his arrival in England in January, the former Atlanta United star finally delivered. Steve Bruce praised Almiron and his strike partners this week despite their struggles in front of goal and Almiron stood tall, worked hard and finally delivered a telling bit of quality in the final third.

3. Aguero’s movement missed: These are the type of games where Sergio Aguero makes a massive difference. Newcastle put 10 men behind the ball and Man City just couldn’t break them down. Gabriel Jesus had four players around him whenever he got the ball and if Aguero wasn’t injured, you feel like he would have found a way to sneak in-behind this watertight Newcastle defense. City have been hit hard by injuries to key players this season and Aguero is the latest, as his absence has put another severe dent in their title hopes.

Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne – He tried to drive Man City on and scored a stunner, put in plenty of top quality crosses and made some fantastic runs. The Belgian wizard didn’t deserve to not win this game.


Man City dominated the early stages as Riyad Mahrez was looking dangerous as Kevin de Bruyne set up Gabriel Jesus who played in Mahrez but Newcastle’s defense stood firm.

Fernandinho powered a header over as City pinned Newcastle back throughout the first half, with Jonjo Shelvey’s low free kick as close as the hosts came.

Sterling scored his 15th goal of the season in all competitions to set City on their way as the ball ricocheted off a few challenges before David Silva back-heeled it to Sterling to slot home.

But just as it looked like Man City would kick on, Newcastle equalized as the much-maligned Miguel Almiron cut in from the left and teed up Willems to finish. 1-1. Game on, as Almiron had his first assist since joining Newcastle in January.

Sterling tested Martin Dubravka before the break as Man City struggled to get back on top in the game.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half City labored as De Bruyne smashed a shot over and Newcastle were content to sit deep and spring counter attacks when they could.

Silva crossed for Jesus who nodded just wide and Dubravka denied De Bruyne’s low effort as City piled on the pressure. Dubravka then denied Jesus and De Bruyne in quick succession as City clicked through the gears.

De Bruyne then delivered a stunning strike from distance which hit the bar and went in to make it 2-1 late on, but City were pegged back again as Shelvey curled home a stunner to send St James’ Park wild.

Sterling then squandered a great chance in stoppage as Dubravka saved as Man City’s faint title hopes are hanging by a thread.

Aston Villa thumps Newcastle 2-0 to go seven clear of the drop

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Aston Villa and Newcastle came into the match at Villa Park just a point apart in the Premier League table, but on the day the gulf in ability was on full display.

A comprehensive 2-0 home victory saw Villa go seven points clear of the relegation zone, with first-half goals from Conor Hourihane and Anwar El Ghazi, both on set-pieces. Needing some form of attacking mentality in the second half, Newcastle offered nothing going forward, and Steve Bruce will have plenty to ponder after a night when nothing went right.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Martin Dubravka was on hand to make sure the scoreline wasn’t worse, but the Magpies were soundly beaten on the road. Jack Grealish pulled the strings for the home side, providing a silky attacking display and delighting the Villa Park fans.


Three things we learned

1) Newcastle’s desire questionable against Villa onslaught

Aston Villa came out firing on all cylinders from the opening whistle to halftime, bringing into question Newcastle’s desire in such a critical match. Sure, Newcastle was playing on the road, but to concede so much attacking pressure to a fellow relegation candidate was problematic. It all came to a head on the half-hour mark when DeAndre Yedlin‘s foul of Jack Grealish on the edge of the penalty area led to a stunning free-kick by Conor Hourihane that delivered the game’s first goal.

It continued after the opening goal, with another set-piece situation doubling the Aston Villa lead. Newcastle had mental lapses all over the penalty area, with Paul Dummett just completely switching off, allowing a free-kick to reach Anwar El-Ghazi.

Seriously, what was the Newcastle defense doing? And goalkeeper Martin Dubravka hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory there either, putting forth a measly effort to stop that ball.

After the home side was 2-0 up and the Steve Bruce absorption plan was shot, they had very little to offer up front. Bruce threw on Andy Carroll – who hasn’t scored since April of last year – with a half-hour to go, but it had little effect on the game despite changing to a 4-4-2 formation. The Magpies had absolutely nothing when it mattered most, and that’s exceptionally worrying for a team fighting for its Premier League lives.

2) Aston Villa’s fight should keep them afloat

What Newcastle doesn’t have, Aston Villa does. Look, this isn’t the best team in the league, not by a long shot. They make mistakes and they have glaring weaknesses. But they have a fight which will earn the Claret & Blue enough points to stay afloat. Dean Smith should be proud of the way he prepares his team to play matches, milking just about as much effort from this squad as he can. It’s hard to see them going down when they play at this level during such important matches.

3) Jack Grealish continues to be Villa’s talisman

It’s been clear from the start of the season who Aston Villa’s best player is, and who will save them from the drop. Jack Grealish was fantastic again, distributing around the penalty area and pulling all the attacking strings. He completed 48 of his 56 pass attempts, including 25-of-31 in the attacking third, picking up four chances created and assisting the opening goal (to be fair, it was the cheapest assist of all time, simply there to tap the free-kick to Hourihane which opened the Newcastle wall). The 24-year-old ran the show at Villa Park and will surely be the one to lead the squad to safety this season, and he embodies the aforementioned fight that possessed the squad tonight. 

Man of the Match: Jack Grealish


Aston Villa was clearly the better side throughout the first half, holding 75% possession through the first half-hour. They went ahead on a pair of set-pieces, with Newcastle committing two fouls right on the edge of the penalty area. DeAndre Yedlin and Federico Fernandez were the guilty parties, and the defending was miserable on both goals.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Newcastle had a chance to pull one back, but a Fernandez header was saved by Tom Heaton was up to the task, keeping the effort out. That was by far their best opportunity, and put forth just one other shot on target the rest of the half.

El Ghazi nearly had a second before halftime on the counter but an excellently timed step by Jetro Willems played the Dutch international offside and the flag went up as the ball found the back of the net.

Newcastle came out inspired after the half, but the burst of energy barely lasted 10 minutes as Villa nearly scored a third on 52 minutes, requiring a great Dubravka save on Ezri Ngoyo’s header. Again Dubravka was on point in the 74th minute when Wesley poked on frame from short range with the goal gaping. He picked up a third big save on an 85th minute free-kick by Jack Grealish who was aiming for the far post with an attacker waiting to pounce.

Magpies come back to sour Cherries at St. James

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DeAndre Yedlin and Ciaran Clark scored to lead Newcastle United back from an early deficit, as the Magpies collected a 2-1 win over Bournemouth at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Magpies are now unbeaten in three and sit 11th with 15 points, one behind seventh place Bournemouth.

The Cherries goal came via Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson off a delightful training ground corner kick.


Three things we learned

1. Magpies defenders are attackers (again): Steve Bruce‘s Newcastle has seen seven of its last nine goals come courtesy of backs, and today it was Clark and Yedlin rewarded for following the ball to goal. Clark scored for the second-straight match while his American teammate joined Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar, Jamaal Lascelles, and Jetro Willems on the score sheets this season. In game rife with harsh tackles and seedy moves, perhaps its fitting the backs made the difference.

2. Saint-Maximin a difference maker (also, again): Newcastle’s French wing wizard was again perplexing for a Premier League defense. While he still hasn’t found the required goals of his position, his passing, dribbling, and use of space remains upper echelon in the league. If he starts firing home, look out.

3. King butchers late chance: There should’ve been a late point for the visitors, but the Cherries long time finisher didn’t finish his chance. Joshua King was at the back ahead of Dubravka, who was a bit suspect all day, but couldn’t turn his header inside the far post with mere seconds to go in stoppage time.

Man of the Match: 


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The Cherries were very lively from the jump, and Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka was called into action several times before the opener.

That’s when a clever short corner routine ended with Wilson’s goal, as the Liverpool loanee darted free of Jetro Willems to side-foot a shot inside the near post.

Newcastle took a second hit when captain Jamaal Lascelles was forced off with an injury.

The Magpies, oddly enough, then found the run of play and both Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton came close. Allan Saint-Maximin set up both players.

Saint-Maximin cooked Steve Cook to beat Aaron Ramsdale but smashed off the cross bar as the match approached the first half’s final five minutes.

That’s when the American beat the Bournemouth back line and VAR, Yedlin heading Saint-Maximin’s cross into a yawning cage from a back post position.

[ WATCH: Yedlin’s equalizer ]

Newcastle took its first lead when Willems’ back post cross was knocked down by Fernandez into the path of Clark, who just poked past Ramsdale for 2-1.

Ramsdale bailed out his backs on a 78th minute Saint-Maximin chance, catching the ball and watching Almiron miss the empty cage under duress.

The Cherries did good work to find an equalizer, but King’s late miss was a symptom of their sickness.

Newcastle United breaks out in win at West Ham

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Jonjo Shelvey scored a wonder goal and two of his center backs also found the net as Newcastle United beat West Ham United 3-2 at the London Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez also scored for the Magpies, whose 12 points have them 16th. That’s four places and a point below the Irons.

Fabian Balbuena and Robert Snodgrass scored late for West Ham, but it would’ve been larceny had the hosts taken a point.


Three things we learned

1. West Ham defense a first half shambles: Newcastle entered the day with six league goals and could’ve had four by halftime were it not for some close range saves by Roberto. Both goals came off short set pieces which saw the Irons undone by one or two extra passes.

2. Creativity to the (Saint)-Max: Allan Saint-Maximin butted heads with Patrick Vieira at Nice, but has been nothing but positive on-and-off the field for Newcastle. His dribbling wizardry has brought something to Newcastle missing since the days of Hatem Ben Arfa. Yet to be rewarded with a goal — and he should’ve had two on Saturday — “Saint-Max” is one of the redemptive reasons to watch Newcastle despite the 5-4-1 formation.

3. Shelvey steps in and shines: The only certainty when it comes to a Jonjo Shelvey start is unpredictability (We know the logic doesn’t work there). Stepping in for Matty Longstaff, the bald-headed passing maestro scored and incredible free kick and struck the cross bar as well. Steady next to Isaac Hayden, Shelvey has a shot to keep his spot when Sean Longstaff returns from suspension.

Man of the Match: Jetro Willems — The Eintracht Frankfurt loanee was a delightful playmaker who provided plenty of tackles, interceptions, and field changing on the night.


The teams traded corners before Miguel Almiron won a free kick on the edge of the 18.

Jonjo Shelvey’s long swung kick was headed back across goal by Joelinton, and Clark headed it past Roberto for 1-0 in the 16th.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

It was 2-0 in the 22nd through another center back, as Fernandez had time and room to head home Jetro Willems’ cross off a short corner.

Allan Saint-Maximin then arrived behind the West Ham to back line for a long 1v1 dribble ended by a substandard strike saved by Roberto.

The Magpies were all over the Irons, Saint-Maximin stopped on another breakaway from Roberto and then playing Almiron who saw his shot saved, too. Then Shelvey smashed the cross bar.

West Ham had a few solid chances inspired by Robert Snodgrass, but Martin Dubravka was credited with a few good saves for the Magpies.

Roberto made another diving save to deny Saint-Maximin in stoppage time, and Shelvey’s corner was defended before the match hit halftime.

Saint-Maximin turned playmaker in the second half with a chip to DeAndre Yedlin, who was denied on his header and then by the offside flag after depositing the rebound.

Shelvey then delivered the stomach punch with a spinning free kick around the wall which snuck inside the near post.

Fabian Balbuena pulled one back for West Ham after Dubravka could only slap a cross onto his path in the 74th.

But wait, Snodgrass had something else to say with a sensational low volley inside the far post in the 90th.

Wolves come back to draw 10-man Newcastle

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Wolves battled midweek fatigue to grab a point at Newcastle United, coming from behind to draw the 10-man Magpies 1-1 at St. James’ Park on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jamaal Lascelles gave Newcastle a lead but Jonny Otto leveled it in the second half before Sean Longstaff was sent off for a wild slide into Ruben Neves.

Wolves move 11th with 12 points, while Newcastle’s ninth point sits a point above the relegation zone.


Three things we learned

1. Magpies sit back, can’t soak up: Given a lead, the hosts went into the break and came out of it a different side. Newcastle sat back as its weary visitors sense blood in the water. Martin Dubravka was less than ideal on the equalizer, but he had little help over the course of the final 45 minutes, the Magpies’ half on the back foot taking a three-point day to one.

2. Traore a handful (Saint-Maximin, too): Twenty-three-year-old Spanish winger Adama Traore had a reputation as a one-trick speed merchant last season but has been so much more than that this year. He gave the Magpies fits on the right side and his service into the mix deserved a goal, but will be have to be sated by a hockey assist on the equalizer.

“Saint-Max” had a similar day for the hosts, though his best work was limited to the first half. His ability to find space and dribble through traffic is critical to matching Miguel Almiron (more on him below) and trying to set up Joelinton, but Newcastle badly needs a midfielder who can link their possession players to their attacking talents.

3. Improved Almiron still shaken — The former Atlanta United star had his best day in terms of pace, energy, industry, and tackling, but is miles away was his best self when it comes to finishing and that final pass. There was a lot of promise to his day, but if we’re honest the Magpies have a multi-goal lead if he’s anywhere near confident.

Man of the Match: Jamaal Lascelles — The Magpies captain said he’d pitch in more with goals and did just that, but was extra important on a day goalkeeper Martin Dubravka wasn’t at his best.


Dubravka was called into action by an 18-yard Joao Moutinho shot in the second minute.

The Magpies had a chance off a free kick two minutes later, but snakebit Miguel Almiron butchered a half-volley with his weaker foot.

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Almiron made two interventions in his own end including a vital block in the 14th minute.

The match was delayed for several minutes when Wolves’ Diogo Jota suffered a head injury after a shoulder barge from Federico Fernandez.

Almiron was so bright but the lack of confidence in his final ball or pass remained, a 34th minute effort meeting the outside of the net after a heavy touch.

Lascelles delivered the opener after a fine cross from Federico Fernandez, thumping a header past Rui Patricio.

It really should’ve been 1-1 when Adama Traore’s cross had a bit too much venom for Jota to turn under the bar.

Dubravka made a nice stop on Jota in the 64th but spilled the ball and needed help from Sean Longstaff to clear the danger.

Wolves controlled the second half with Newcastle back in a shell, and Jonny got the equalizer after Dubravka couldn’t claim a cross and pushed into to the penalty spot.

Jetro Willems hammered a 20-yard shot just wide of the far post as Newcastle tried to fight back for a win.

Though Newcastle was in better position, Sean Longstaff ended that with a wild, studs-up slide that got the ball but then Neves. His absence will be felt at West Ham.