The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW30): Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United
A stadium a-wash with black and white banners, sponsors and Sports Direct advertisements were the only spectators that witnessed Sheffield United dominate the opening 10 minutes of action. The travelling side couldn't benefit from sustained pressure from their right-hand side, whilst The Magpies defended well from multiple corner and free-kick situations.
Newcastle began to flex their attacking abilities with Allan Saint-Maximin showing good feet to get into the opposing penalty area, before Matt Ritchie tested Dean Henderson from range. The Toon's best opportunity came in the 17th minute with the home side countering well. Miguel Almiron, who started as a man reborn in the 'Number 10' position freed Joelinton, with only Henderson to beat. The Brazilian didn't set himself well and shot into the ground from close, a poor shot in a great situation that hasn't done anything about his reputation for being another flop up top for the black and white side.
With absolutely nothing to report on until the second-half, a brilliant touch from Joelinton after a Martin Dubravka punt up the field changed the game, with John Egan, who was in the wars with the Brazilian all afternoon, holding his shirt and dragging the Forward back. Egan saw red and gave Newcastle a man advantage with over 40 minutes left to play.
Newcastle didn't wait long to capitalise on the additional man, with Matt Ritchie driving into midfield and playing a ball into the box. What looked like a routine clearance for Enda Stevens turned into a calamity for the left-back as the ball went straight through his legs and into the path of Saint-Maximin who showed enough composure to beat Henderson at his near post for the opening goal of the afternoon.
Th game could have swung in another direction just 4 minutes later, however, as Billy Sharp rose well at the back post, beating Manquillo to a header, with the Englishman's effort going agonisingly past the right-hand frame of Dubravka's goal.
The nail in the coffin to Sheffield United came in the 69th minute after Isaac Hayden picked up a loose ball in midfield. Hayden squared to Ritchie who then rang at George Baldock and delivered a sweetly executed long-range effort that shot past Henderson to double Newcastle lead. At this point of the game, it looked like Sheffield United were prone to concede more before this one was over.
The prophecy of more goals came true when Joelinton and Almiron combined, with Joelinton playing in Almiron on the left. The Paraguay international skipped into the box and squared for his strike partner to strike home into a near-empty net to treble Newcastle's lead.
The rest of the game played out with the travelling Blades accepting their fate, with the highlights to end the game being the overgrown hair on Fabian Schar and DeAndre Yedlin. Overall, this was a comfortable afternoon for Newcastle and a destructive day that does no favours for Sheffield United in their efforts to qualify for European football next season.
Man of the Match: Joelinton (NEW)
Take your pick of players in this one! Matt Ritchie was a driving force and involved in the first two goals, Danny Rose had his best game in a Newcastle shirt, whilst Miguel Almiron has been reborn in the 10 role. It was a professional and well drilled performance though for us, Joelinton had a superb game. The trio of Sheffield United's central defenders couldn't handle the Brazilian big man. He won the battle against Egan, dropped deeper at times to link play and linked up brilliantly all day with Miguel Almiron and was worthy of his goal.
NEW 3-0 SHU - Insight and Analysis:
As a 29-year old that has followed Newcastle United my entire life, I am trying my absolute best here to be impartial and without bias, but for the first time this season I've actually enjoyed a Newcastle game this season. Most of our wins this season have been scrappy 1-0 wins and have been slogs to watch - especially our big 1-0 wins over Spurs and Chelsea.
Today though, was very, very different. Fans will be beaming after that performance, which from back to front was almost a perfect afternoon. Opting for a back 4, something Steve Bruce hasn't done all that often this season, Lascelles and Fernandez were quick and sharp all afternoon, whilst Danny Rose had his best game in a Newcastle shirt, so much so that he turned a corner with me today that I'd like to see him back on board next season if and when the takeover takes place.
The team didn't struggle in midfield, with Almiron in particular a lively presence that relished his supporting role for Joelinton. The big man up top drew in play all afternoon and terrorised and dominated a trio of central defenders. All round it was a performance that hasn't come around all too often - it's the first time we've scored 3 goals at home, so I'm not getting ahead of myself, but the win nonetheless pretty much puts to bed any concern of relegation. This means all focus will shift to the sale of Newcastle as a Premier League club - I am hoping more than anyone on the planet that we are free of Mike Ashley's burden, so I can start dreaming of a first summer transfer window with an actual transfer budget.
Venue: St. James' Park
Manager: Steve Bruce
GK: Martin Dubravka
DEF: Javier Manquillo
DEF: Jamaal Lascelles
DEF: Federico Fernandez
DEF: Danny Rose
MID: Isaac Hayden
MID: Jonjo Shelvey (Schar 85')
MID: Matt Ritchie (Yedlin 90+2')
MID: Miguel Almiron (Lazaro 85')
MID: Allan Saint-Maximin (Bentaleb 79')
FOR: Joelinton (Carroll 79')
Darlow, Schär, Carroll, Gayle. Muto, Krafth, Yedlin, Lazaro, Bentaleb
Manager: Chris Wilder
GK: Dean Henderson
DEF: Enda Stevens
DEF: Jack Robinson
DEF: John Egan (Red Card 50')
DEF: Chris Basham
DEF: George Baldock
MID: Oliver Norwood
MID: Sander Berge (Lundstram 66')
MID: John Fleck (L. Freeman 74')
FOR: Ollie McBurnie (K. Freeman 85')
FOR: Billy Sharp (Živkovic 74')
Lundstram, L. Freeman, Jagielka, K. Freeman, Mousset, Osborn, Moore, Rodwell, Živkovic
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