Jonjo Shelvey

Early double sparks Magpies rout of Fulham (video)

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Fulham will head to the Championship on a sour note, while Rafa Benitez has something to cling to in contract talks with the club as Newcastle wins 4-0 at Craven Cottage to wrap up the Premier League campaign. Jonjo Shelvey‘s stunner opened things up with Ayoze Perez following up, and Fabian Schar sealed the deal in the second half, with an exclamation mark from Solomon Rondon.

The game opened up immediately and Newcastle scored inside the opening 10 minutes, on a brilliant strike from Jonjo Shelvey. A looping volley from the top-right corner of the box found the opposite corner, a highlight-reel goal on the final day of the season.

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Newcastle bagged the second just two minutes later with Perez bundling home to double the lead. Sergio Rico couldn’t handle an initial shot from Christian Atsu, and Perez was first to reach the rebound.

Fulham held a significant amount of possession through the first half, but couldn’t do much with it. Newcastle, meanwhile, made the most of its touches, nearly finding a third before the break with Rico nervously palming away a corner which looked destined to find the back of the net.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Whites looked better after the break, but Newcastle held at the back amid a few corners to defend. The Magpies went further ahead on the hour mark with Fabian Schar getting wide open on a corner and bagging a header to make it 3-0. The game ended in open end-to-end fashion and the Magpies got a fourth as Rico again couldn’t collect at the post and Rondon finished from an absurdly tight angle with stoppage time beckoning.

The Whites finish the season in 19th on 26 points, a massively disappointing result given their summer spending spree. Newcastle will cling to 13th on 45 points, and hope that the punctuating result can help convince their Spanish boss to stay.

PL At The Half: City owns the title advantage

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It’s all happening on Premier League Championship Sunday! Liverpool came into the day needing a win and Manchester City help to win its first Premier League title ever, and they had the lead for a bit on Sadio Mane‘s opener, and City stunningly fell behind, but Pep Guardiola‘s group has recovered to regain the advantage.

The rest of the table is lit as well, with Tottenham reclaiming third in the table thanks to Eric Dier‘s early goal with Chelsea held goalless at Leicester City. There’s still 45 minutes left to play!

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Here’s a quick look at what’s happening around the English top flight with all games at the halfway break.

Brighton 1-2 Man City

The unthinkable happened early on when Brighton took the lead when Glenn Murray got a touch from a corner. Sergio Aguero was on hand to immediately nullify the opener, flicking in through the legs of Matt Ryan on a David Silva feed, and Aymeric Laporte restored order and put City back on top of the Premier League table.

Liverpool 1-0 Wolves

Sadio Mane is the man to give Liverpool hope, scoring 17 minutes in to put the Reds on top of the league as it stood, before being pegged back in the table by Manchester City’s double. Wolves hit the bar before the break to give Reds fans a scare.

Leicester City 0-0 Chelsea

Chelsea has been relatively tame so far, with Ross Barkley and Gonzalo Higuain coming close but no breakthrough just yet, with the latter putting forth a candidate for Miss of the Season as he bundled an opportunity on the doorstep as the halftime buzzer sounded.

Tottenham 1-0 Everton

Eric Dier got things started just three minutes into the match as he pinged a loose ball into the back of the net on a corner with Everton failing to immediately clear.

Burnley 0-0 Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the crossbar in the opening minutes but Arsenal has not yet found a way through. Mateo Guendouzi had a pinpoint tackle to deny Burnley its biggest opportunity.

Manchester United 0-1 Cardiff City

The nightmare continues for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with Cardiff opening the scoring on a penalty by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, despite Diego Dalot’s foul proving soft on replay.

Watford 0-2 West Ham

Mark Noble struck 15 minutes in with a stunning solo goal, weaving through the defense straight down the middle to complete a sliding finish. Manuel Lanzini doubled the lead eight minutes before the break.

Crystal Palace 3-1 Bournemouth

Michy Batshuayi was the man to kick off the scoring 24 minutes in, striking on a deflected Wilfried Zaha cross that fell to his feet. He struck again less than 10 minutes later, and Jack Simpson‘s own goal marked Palace’s third. Jefferson Lerma scored for Bournemouth right on the stroke of halftime.

Fulham 0-2 Newcastle

The Magpies opened the match with a quickfire double to silence the Craven Cottage faithful, with Jonjo Shelvey striking an absolute stunner of a volley, followed by a scrappy goal from Ayoze Perez.

Southampton 1-0 Huddersfield Town

Nathan Redmond hit a blistering strike four minutes before the break to put Saints up at the half.

Premier League preview: Newcastle v. Crystal Palace

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  • Newcastle has lost just 1 of its last 16 matches v. Palace
  • Crystal Palace has 19 away goals in 2019, a joint-league high
  • Newcastle has a five-game home PL winning streak

Amid speculation about Rafa Benitez‘s uncertain future, Newcastle takes to the field as the Magpies host Crystal Palace at St. James Park on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

With his contract set to run out this summer, Benitez claimed the “ball is in Newcastle United’s court” when it comes to an extension. While he looks to finish out the season strong amid the speculation, Newcastle takes on Crystal Palace to begin one of the more lenient run-ins among the Premier League, at least on paper. The Magpies have remaining games against Fulham, Brighton, Southampton, and Crystal Palace remaining to go along with top-half matchups with Liverpool and Leicester City.

[ MORE: Watch Newcastle v. Crystal Palace live on NBCSports.com ]

Newcastle also has good news on the injury front, with Isaac Hayden, Mohamed Diame and DeAndre Yedlin all either returning this weekend or close to doing so in the near future. In addition, Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-Yeung have both recently returned from long injury troubles and could see more time on the field in the coming matches.

For Crystal Palace, the magical 40-point threshhold is just four points away, and while they’re already all but safe with an eight-point cushion with six matches to go, matches such as this provide an opportunity amid a bit tougher of a late-season fixture list. The Eagles still have matches against Manchester City, Arsenal, and Everton remaining before meeting Cardiff City and Bournemouth to close out the campaign.

Roy Hodgson will have Andros Townsend to call upon, with the England international returning from a hand injury as a substitute midweek. Other than a long-term knee injury to Mamadou Sakho, there are no other certain injury concerns for Crystal Palace ahead of the road visit to St. James.

What they’re saying

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on his contract situation: “The only club I’m talking about my future [with] now is Newcastle United, and I’m waiting for an answer. Why? Because we have been in contact and I’m waiting for an answer.”

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson on their table position:  “We haven’t actually gone out saying we’re safe. We can’t stop the general opinion that’s out there – we realize we need more points and we also realize we’ll be coming across some very good teams that’ll make it hard for us to get those points.”

Prediction

While there’s not a ton on the line for these two teams, these two seasoned managers know how to motivate a squad with little to play for. Benitez in particular will have his job – not on the line, but plenty to prove. The home crowd should boost Newcastle, and with a healthy squad, the Magpies will win a fun one 3-2.

What did we learn on a wild Premier League Saturday? (video)

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The seven Premier League games on Saturday delivered so many incredible moments, as we had comeback wins, top teams falling, controversy and plenty of strugglers bagging big wins.

Days like today are exactly why we love the Premier League.

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Here is a look at what we learned.


SPURS IN TOP FOUR TROUBLE

Tottenham suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Southampton as they’ve now lost three of their last four games and are without a Premier League win since beating Leicester City on Feb. 10. Mauricio Pochetttino, watching on from the stands due to his current touchline ban, lambasted his players for failing to respect Saints. Spurs were superb in the first half and should have been at least 3-0 up with Harry Kane and Dele Alli ripping Saints apart. Instead they were only 1-0 up and were then totally outfought in the second half and paid the price.

With sixth-place Chelsea now just five points behind third-place Spurs, they are losing serious ground in their top four battle and still have to play at Liverpool and Man City. From the cusp of being in the title race, Spurs have crumbled and are now in real danger of not being in the UEFA Champions League next season.

“It is good because a lot of people now are going to realize our real level,” Pochettino said, before adding. “We are fighting against big sides (for the top four). We had a big gap, that maybe wasn’t real, now welcome to the reality. We are under going to be under pressure to win games. It is a massive challenge for us to keep our position.”


STERLING LEADS CITY, BUT NOT WITHOUT CONTROVERSY

Raheem Sterling‘s hat trick extended Man City’s lead atop the Premier League table to four points, but the 3-1 win against Watford didn’t come without controversy. The crucial first goal arrived less than 45 seconds into the second half but it was originally ruled out for offside, then it was allowed due to a strange perception of the offside rule. That could be a huge moment in the season, as City were struggling to break Watford down. Pep Guardiola‘s side were not at their best and that is expected as they are without Fernandinho, John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne, three players who are key to how they operate.

City took care of business, with a little help from the officials, and now it is over to Liverpool who host Burnley at Anfield on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp‘s men now know that any slip up will hand Man City an even greater advantage in the title race. The pressure is on.


COMEBACKS, GLORIOUS COMEBACKS

Southampton’s comeback win against Tottenham stole the headlines, but Newcastle also launched a marvellous comeback as they beat Everton at St James’ Park 3-2. Rafael Benitez’s side dug deep to fight back from 2-0 down as they also had a penalty kick saved in the first half moments before going 2-0 down.

The belief Newcastle showed to drag themselves back into the game was sublime and, just like Saints, the kind of momentum they will gain from this comeback win will be vital as so many teams battle to stay in the Premier League. At this point of the season sealing a comeback win can be even more important than grabbing three points. The resilience teams are showing at the bottom of the table is incredible, with the likes of Saints, Newcastle and Brighton standing tall. Add in Burnley and Cardiff scrapping away and there are still so many twists and turns remaining in the battle against the drop.


RELEGATION BATTLERS STAND TALL

It is not often Brighton, Saints, Newcastle and Cardiff have won games this season. So it was extremely surprising they all grabbed wins on the same day. Brighton dug deep and delivered a massive away win in the M23 at derby, with Anthony Knockaert‘s stunning goal worthy of winning any game. Glenn Murray had given the Seagulls the lead and Crystal Palace were never at the races. Saints’ win was incredibly unexpected, while Newcastle and Cardiff took care of business at home. All in all, the relegation battle is more muddled than it was before the day kicked off.

Just six points separates Cardiff in 18th and Palace in 14th, and the likes of Cardiff, Brighton and Palace have tough run ins compared to others at the bottom. Fulham and Huddersfield are basically down, while six teams are fighting to stay out of the final relegation spot. Pick one from: Cardiff, Burnley, Southampton, Brighton, Palace and Newcastle.


WILSON, TIELEMANS, RONDON ARE BALLERS

There are some players who are on teams outside of the top six who sometimes do not get the respect they deserve. A few of them stole the show on Saturday. Wilfried Zaha usually falls into this category but he struggled for Palace against Brighton, but Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson was brilliant on his return from injury. Wilson hasn’t played since mid-January for Bournemouth, but he returned with a goal and an assist in their win at Huddersfield and was a constant menace. You can bet that Wilson will be called into the England squad for the upcoming internationals and the PL’s big boys will be sniffing around him this summer.

As for Youri Tielemans, he continues to go from strength to strength in the Premier League. The Belgian midfielder is only on loan from Monaco and Leicester will want to sort that out sharpish as he scored the first and oozed class throughout their 3-1 win against Fulham. Brendan Rodgers loves to have a ball-playing central midfielder who makes things happen and Tielemans fits the bill. And then there is Salomon Rondon at Newcastle. The Venezuelan striker rarely gets the headlines, but he has quietly scored eight goals this season for the Magpies and their entire attacking unit is better when he is fit and playing. Rondon won Newcastle a penalty kick, scored the goal which sparked their amazing comeback and bullied Everton’s defense. For the likes of Miguel Almiron, Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez to flourish, Rondon has to be the focal point.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Newcastle

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  • Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) is unavailable but Alvaro Morata (hamstring) is expected to be fit to face Newcastle.
  • Chelsea have only lost one of its 23 Premier League home matches against Newcastle
  • Salomon Rondon has scored Newcastle’s last three away goals in the Premier League.

The last in a full day of matches comes Saturday afternoon as Chelsea hosts former coach Rafa Benitez and Newcastle (12:30 p.m. ET live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com).

The Blues are coming off a surprise scoreless draw with Southampton while Newcastle are winless in their last four. The winds are swirling at Chelsea as Cesc Fabregas departed and Callum Hudson-Odoi is a big transfer target of Bayern Munich, though Chelsea has so far refused to accept any bids for the talented 18-year-old.

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Alvaro Morata could be fit to play, but one wonders if Maurizio Sarri will go with Eden Hazard in the false nine role again. At the same time, Newcastle has plenty of injuries to deal with, and three players just coming back off the sidelines. It will be a big loss to replace Jonjo Shelvey and Yoshinori Muto.


What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on his team’s scoring problems: “We need to score. We need to solve this problem. In the last match we played very well, with continuity and with a very good offensive and defensive phase, and with a great performance from a physical point of view – the best of the season – but we didn’t score. We have to work and try to solve it as soon as possible.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on focusing his team against Chelsea: ”We have to realize where we are and we have to realize the only way forward is to stay united. We can’t waste too much energy. The idea last year when we were back in the Premier League was to be united. You have to realize that this is a big city and massive club.”


Prediction

Chelsea may be struggling to score goals, but Newcastle are in a relegation fight. Even without much of a striker, Chelsea should still have enough talent and firepower up top to win. Plus, with so many players out injured for Newcastle, the challenge grows even more for the visitors. Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle