Jetro Willems

Newcastle United
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Ranking every Newcastle United player

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Newcastle United found big wins in odd places for the second-straight year, as Steve Bruce surprised many by holding steady to the reins dropped in his lap by the departing Rafa Benitez.

That doesn’t mean the season was all that good, or that he and half the players won’t be sent packing when the club’s controversial takeover is complete.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Below we give each Newcastle United player a grade, ranking and grouping them together based on their seasons so far.

If a Newcastle player is listed in this ranking it is because they’ve played in more than five games in all competitions.


A-GRADE

Allan Saint-Maximin: With respect to a deep group of defenders, the team’s Player of the Year running is down to Martin Dubravka and the man they call ASM. For our money, it goes to the electric winger. The Magpies attack is insipid without him, and see the video under Willems’ description for a prime example of defenders’ terrifying respect for his creativity. #SuckedIn

Martin Dubravka: Simply put, the Magpies would be in the drop zone without their shot stopper. He’s had some tough moments, to be sure, but the Slovakian veteran has made more saves than anyone else in the Premier League and they haven’t been easy often; Eighty of his 117 stops have come from inside the 18.

Fabian Schar: One of the best transfer bargains of this decade in the Premier League.

Jetro Willems: Find yourself a left wing back this composed in the box, as Willems takes advantage of Manchester United’s ASM obsession with two deft moves to cue up a Matty Longstaff debut winner.


B-GRADE

Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark: Steady as they go.

Miguel Almiron: There’s still a lot to do with the end product, but you get the feeling that the ex-Atlanta United star is really putting it together. Relentless.

Jonjo Shelvey: The team’s leading scorer with five goals. The only players in the PL to have completed more long balls this season are Rodri, Ruben Neves, and Granit Xhaka.

Matt Ritchie
Jamaal Lascelles
Isaac Hayden

Miguel Almiron goal
Miguel Almiron  (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

C-GRADE

Sean Longstaff: The sophomore slump has been very real. At 22, he’s got time to define what made him one of the league-wide revelations of the 2018-19 season.

Matty Longstaff: A promising start to life with the first team, including that monster goal on debut to beat Manchester United. Will he leave without a new deal, or will new ownership give him what he wants?

Paul Dummett: It’s amazing how much better of a player he’s been since Rafa Benitez slid him inside the back line.

DeAndre Yedlin: It stings to write this given our shared home nation, but Yedlin has declined every year on Tyneside. Close to D territory, sadly.

Andy Carroll
Javier Manquillo
Florian Lejeune
Christian Atsu

Deandre Yedlin (Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images)

D-GRADE

Joelinton: A monumental disappointment in his first season at Newcastle, but closer to a C than many realize; The Brazilian has been a beast in the air and might thrive in a team designed to get him the ball more than once a half.

Dwight Gayle: A tremendous Championship player, it’s not his fault the Magpies haven’t sold him to a place where he can do his thing.

Yoshinori Muto: You feel he hasn’t really gotten a proper chance to do damage to Premier League defenses. It won’t be a surprise if he finds 8-10 goals at his next stop.

Emil Krafth
Danny Rose


INCOMPLETE

Valentino Lazaro, Ki Sung-yeung, Nabil Bentaleb

Guardiola praises Liverpool; injury update

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With the Premier League games coming thick and fast as midweek action now takes center stage, Premier League managers have been giving us injury updates on Monday and Pep Guardiola has praised Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola has doffed his cap to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool once again, as the Reds have now moved 16 points clear of second-place Man City and have a game in hand on the reigning Premier League champions.

“We can’t deny Liverpool are extraordinary,” Guardiola said. “But everyday I live thinking about what we can do better. Some games are good, we concede few. We have scored more than Liverpool. I don’t have stats here but we concede more chances and drop points.”

In short from Pep: Damn, we should have signed more, and better, defenders this summer. Oh, and the injury to Aymeric Laporte was unlucky.

Guardiola has confirmed that Laporte is close to a return to fitness after the silky French center back missed the last four months with a knee injury. He also confirmed that both John Stones and Benjamin Mendy are doubtful for the trip to Sheffield United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

That starts our quick round up of injury news around the Premier League ahead of the midweek games…

  • Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said that Reece James has avoided a serious knee injury after coming off against Newcastle. He could play against Arsenal (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and Marcos Alonso is also back in the squad. 
  • Mikel Arteta said that Sokratis will not play at Chelsea due to illness, while Sead Kolasinac and Reiss Nelson will both be out until early February.
  • Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that star Brazilian attacker Richarlison will miss their clash against Newcastle United on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) as he continues to recover from a knee injury. 
  • Newcastle’s injury woes continue as both Jetro Willems and Paul Dummett have been ruled out for the rest of the season. Willems has ruptured his ACL after falling awkwardly in the 1-0 win against Chelsea. The Magpies will have to do some business in January to patch up their squad.
  • Southampton look set to be without Jan Bednarek for their trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com). The Polish center back, who has started every single PL game this season, has an Achilles injury. Palace welcome back Max Meyer as he’s recovered from an ankle injury caused by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s lunging tackle.
  • Bournemouth could have Lloyd Kelly back after his lengthy injury, as the Cherries take on South Coast rivals Brighton in a massive game at the bottom of the table.

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.

WATCH: Almiron scores a peach of goal for Newcastle United

Miguel Almiron goal
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Wolves conceded another opener, this time at the Molineux (though they’d equalize before too long against Newcastle’s attention-free defense).

Miguel Almiron came out of the gates with fury to score his second Premier League goal.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

First, the ex-Atlanta United man 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.

It’s a third goal in five matches across all competitions for the 25-year-old, who needed 27 matches with the Magpies to score his first.

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.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

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.”