Paul Dummett

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Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v. Chelsea

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Chelsea visits surprising Newcastle United in a marquee match Saturday at St. James’ Park (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The hosts have scrapped their way to 26 points, five points both clear of the drop zone and back of seventh place. A draw at Wolves last weekend snapped a three-match league losing streak.

Chelsea maintains a five-point gap over Manchester United in its bid to claim a Top Four place, with the Red Devils meeting unbeaten Liverpool this week. The Blues are seeking back-to-back league wins for the first time since Nov. 9.

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Newcastle has had a fair bit of success against the big boys this season, beating Manchester United and Spurs while drawing Man City.

Christian Pulisic stole the ball en route to Marcos Alonso‘s late goal in a 1-0 win when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge in October.

Pulisic, of course, is still out injured for Chelsea and Lampard says the American could return near the club’s February break. Newcastle has electric winger Allan Saint-Maximin back in the fold after more than a month on the sidelines. Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey are also available.


Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle United: OUT — Paul Dummett, Dwight Gayle, DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Schar, Jetro Willems, Javi Manquillo. QUESTIONABLE — DeAndre Yedlin, Yoshinori Muto.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N’Golo Kante, Pulisic. QUESTIONABLE — Marcos Alonso.


Probable lineups

Newcastle United: Dubravka; Willems, Clark, Lascelles, Fernandez, Ritchie; Hayden, Shelvey; Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Almiron.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, James; Jorginho, Willian, Mount, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi; Abraham.


What they’re saying

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce on his meeting with owner Mike Ashley: “It went very well. We showed what we are trying to do, and he was fully supportive. We have plates spinning and hope to add to the squad by the end of the month. We have said that the targets have to improve us. He has been fully supportive of the remit. He agrees we buy quality not quantity. That has to be the mantra.”

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on Newcastle’s many injuries: “It is still an opportunity, but this is vital. Every game brings challenges, going to Newcastle, the emotion of the crowd and they are an organized side. We won’t take it lightly. We have to take every game head-on. We don’t underestimate there. Bournemouth were down to the bare bones and we lost, it can bring out a different feeling. They have done very well and I don’t look at the bare bones.


Prediction

St. James’ Park has been a tough place to play, but the Blues shake off any travel to collect a 2-1 win over the Magpies.

Newcastle takes point from Wolves through Almiron, Dubravka

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Miguel Almiron turned in a Man of the Match performance as Newcastle United took a surprise point from the Molineux in a 1-1 draw with Wolves on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Leander Dendoncker scored off a set piece for Wolves, who fall eight points off the Top Four.

Newcastle moves onto 26 points, five off seventh place and six away from the Bottom Three.


Three things we learned

1. Traore, Almiron should compete in the decathalon: For 90 minutes, Newcastle’s Almiron and Wolves winger Adama Traore drove each other nuts on the flank. Matching each other for pace as if the points would be awarded to the victor, there were no better field players to be found at the Molineux.

2. Dubravka continues to deliver: Newcastle’s xG luck will again be off the charts. Midfielder Matty Longstaff had one of three goal line clearances for the Magpies, but goalkeeper Martin Dubrvka denied a pair of strong chances from Wolves with highlight reel stuff. The Slovakian No. 1 is one of Newcastle’s heroes.

3. Almiron finding his stride: Forget the three goals in five matches, Almiron is delivering an all-around game to back up the support he received during his 27-match goal drought. The former Atlanta United man completed five of five dribbles, won 10 of 13 challenges, and was credited with five tackles and two interceptions. He was the easy Man of the Match, and his goal was a beauty, too.


Miguel Almiron dribbled 40-plus yards to cut a shot toward goal, but a diving Rui Patricio saw it sail wide of the frame.

He got his goal two minutes later, Jetro Willems and Dwight Gayle working the ball down the left before the latter poked a ball onto the Paraguayan’s path for a fine finish.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Paul Dummett added to Newcastle’s injury woes when he left after a dozen minutes for Florian Lejeune.

Wolves answered moments later, Dendoncker losing Federico Fernandez for a set piece goal with minimal defending at best.

Gayle then also left with an injury, Newcastle’s fifth first half injury change in 73 first half minutes across two matches.

The Magpies got another shining save from goalkeeper Martin Dubravka when Adama Traore picked out Raul Jimenez for a back post header.

Matty Longstaff provided another goal line clearance when Matt Doherty threatened goal in the 47th, and Dubravka denied Pedro Neto with a point blank save late on.

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.

Almiron’s long-sought first Premier League goal drives Newcastle to win

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Newcastle United got back to winning ways via a first Premier League goal from Miguel Almiron.

The ex-Atlanta United man broke a 26-match scoreless streak with a second half goal as the Magpies beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Andy Carroll had the assist, as Newcastle rose ninth with 25 points.

Palace drops into 12th with 23 points.


Three things we learned

1. Almiron… finally: The Paraguayan regularly runs his shorts off for Newcastle, but his confidence has been so low. You wouldn’t have known it by the way he laced a side volley home for an 83rd minute winner. He had an exceptional day, passing at 93 percent while making four tackles, two interceptions, a blocked shot and a clearance.

2. Zaha neutralized: Javier Manquillo played one of the best matches of his life, the ex-Liverpool man tidy in dealing with Palace behemoth Wilfried Zaha. The oft-fouled Ivorian lost 15 of his 24 challenges, and was successful on just four of 12 dribbles.

3. Bruce takes another chance: The Magpies didn’t have Jetro Willems for the left side of a 5-3-2, and installed center back Florian Lejeune as a left back in a 4-4-2. So who played left mid? Bafflingly, it was Paul Dummett, but the Geordie big man fired in cross after cross. It was a surprise to everyone including Roy Hodgson. Kinda stunned that it worked, honestly.

Man of the Match: Manquillo is the tactician’s pick, but you can’t take the day away from the man they call Miggy.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Miguel Almiron and Jonjo Shelvey put the first two shots on target, relatively easy work for Vicente Guaita. Florian Lejeune then zipped a shot from distance, saved by Guaita.

Palace had a single moment of danger, Wilfried Zaha forcing Martin Dubravka into a prone block and catch.

The Eagles were better to start the second half, with Dubravka charging out to stymy a James McArthur chance.

Patrick Van Aanholt nearly curled an Olimpico past Dubravka in the 66th minute, the match begging for excitement.

Dubravka made a terrific stop on Benteke when Jordan Ayew played him into the box.

Newcastle scored on perhaps its first true chance since halftime, as a long ball was knocked down by Andy Carroll and Almiron painted the side netting with his side volley.