Premier League Match Report (06/02/21): Newcastle 3-2 Southampton
The 2020/21 Premier League season began on 12th September 2020, with the new campaign beginning behind closed doors, with West Brom, Leeds and Fulham returning to England's top-flight. We will be providing match reports from select Premier League games throughout the season as the Covid-era of football continues. All aboard.
Match Report (GW23): Newcastle 3-2 Southampton
A game of two bottom-half teams in the Premier League saw Southampton travel to Newcastle for a 3pm kick-off on Saturday 6th February 2021 as part of Gameweek 23. Newcastle started the day in 16th, much in need of a win to widen the gap between those in the relegation zone, whilst 12th placed Southampton are hot off the heels of a 9-0 drubbing at Old Trafford against Man United during Gameweek 22.
Building into the game, it was the home side that nearly profited early on with a goal in the 8th minute when Jonjo Shelvey provided a through ball to 10-goal Callum Wilson, who found the back of the net past Alex McCarthy, though was subject to a late flag from the linesman with Wilson a yard or two offside when the ball was played.
The offside flag would also deny a potential penalty claim when Satins attacker Che Adams was nudged in the back inside the penalty area during the 12th minute of the game, which was Southampton’s first sign of danger in an encouraging opening for the travelling outfit.
The game’s starting tempo was fast and fierce and there was no player the epitomised this more than Allan Saint-Maximin, making his first start for the Magpies since Gameweek 9’s 2-0 home defeat against Chelsea. ASM collected the ball and glided into the penalty area past the opposing full-back with serious speed and power, eventually cutting the ball back for Joe Willock to slot home from eight-yards-out on his Newcastle debut to give the Arsenal loanee a dream start on his first start for the club.
The flying Frenchman, who has had an electric start in this match, was in the thick of the action again when he ran behind the Southampton defence in the 26th minute, laying the ball back to Miguel Almiron who set the ball and struck low to the back-post, with the Paraguayan’s effort deflected off Jan Bednarek and into the net to extend Newcastle’s lead.
With the match slipping away from Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side they were desperate for the next goal and didn’t have to wait long for the reply, when another loanee, Takumi Minamino, making his debut was able to get among the goals. Heading into the 30th minute Ryan Bertrand had acres of time on the ball on the left-flank and was given time to flash a pass into Minamino, who controlled excellently to take the ball past Isaac Hayden, with the Japan international rifling a shot into the roof of the net, with Karl Darlow unable to prevent his clean sheet wipeout.
Three goals and a fast tempo did cool as the game approached half-time, with Newcastle losing Callum Wilson just after the Southampton goal, though the final kick of the half saw Newcastle take a 3-1 lead into the break when Almiron robbed Bertrand of the ball after a pass from McCarthy in worsening conditions in the north east, with the midfielder having a free route to goal, firing low into the net for his second goal of the game.
With a commanding lead, Newcastle just don’t know how to do things the easy way as Jeff Hendrick was sent-off for a foul on Minamino, the Irishman earning his second yellow of the game. The cherry on top of this was a wonderful curled free-kick by James Ward-Prowse just a minute before that flew into the net to reduce the lead, leaving Newcastle with a goal lead but a man down.
Mounting pressure from the visitors was expected with Southampton coming so close to equalising the game on the stroke of the 63rd minute when Nathan Redmon reversed a pass to Danny Ings in the penalty area, with Ings curling an effort off the far right-post, with the rebounding ball falling into the arms of Darlow.
Less than a minute later Redmond was involved again, providing a through ball to Ings through on goal, the Englishman had the goal at his mercy, with Darlow coming out quick to narrow the angles, making the initial save which falls to Che Adams to tap in from two yards out – though yet again the late flag was up on the far-side as Ings was offside in the build-up.
Newcastle’s luck from bad to worse in the 74th minute when Fabian Schar charged into a rebound of an attacking free-kick and found himself clattered. Four minutes later, Schar was carted off the pitch on a stretcher, leaving the home side with 9-men for the final 15 or so minutes.
Southampton kept huffing and puffing for an equaliser as the Magpies were holding on to their most fragile of leads, with Isaac Hayden providing a crucial goal-line clearance in the 89th minute. The six minutes of added time provided were not enough for Southampton as they struggled to create any clear goal-scoring chances against Newcastle’s dogged defensive 4-4-0 formation to close out a win in a thrilling game.
Man of the Match: Miguel Almiron (NEW)
Allan Saint-Maximin was electric in the first-half on his first start in 2021 and Isaac Hayden was immense in the second-half as he led the line with courage and bravery to dent Southampton an equaliser – ASM went quiet in the second-half and subbed for Dummett to see out the win, whilst Hayden had flaws to his defending in the first-half.
The one man who was on point all afternoon, aside from Joe Willock, was Miguel Almiron. Newcastle fans should be purring over the Paraguay international when he players in his preferred Number 10 position, gifting the advanced midfielder with room to find the game and exploit flaws in Southampton’s defence – this is the Miggy that Atlanta and MLS supporters come to know and now we’re starting to see the better of his game when utilised properly.. Almiron picks up advanced areas all afternoon and pressed the Saints well, with the latter point leading to Newcastle’s match winner to end the first-half.
The two goals was Almiron’s first brace in the Premier League and a result that leaves Newcastle in 16th on 25 points in the table, 11 ahead of 18th placed Fulham.
Insight and Analysis:
It’s not often you watch a game involving Newcastle United and come away believing you have watched a football game that included the entire package – a thriller that involved goals, red cards, and injuries to key personnel that left your team with just 9-men on the pitch for the final period of the game, defending valiantly to pick up a crucial win in a season threatened by relegation.
Today was one such day, a freak given Newcastle’s form and level of performance this season, but no less a result that was well deserved in torrential conditions in Tyneside. Southampton really struggled with the weather, with their defenders unable to weigh up the weight of ball as the ball progressively stuck to the sodden pitch. In attack, Takumi Minamino looked a real threat and I’m left scratching my head, as is my Liverpool supporting twin brother, as to why Jurgen Klopp’s side sent out a good player that can find the net when his own team can’t score no matter the effort. The same applies for Arsenal and Joe Willock – the new Newcastle midfielder was box-to-box all afternoon and had a keen eye for goal.
Saint Maximin’s return to the side from the start was the real game changer today, with a lot of football pundits (ourselves included) that believed Southampton were good value against a Newcastle team stripped of many first choice defenders, looking to prove a point after their humiliating loss against Man United in midweek. ASM’s presence on the left-wing allowed Newcastle to shape up with Almiron and Wilson in a free-flowing attack and it showed – the Toon could have scored a dozen in the first-half.
The win for my beloved Newcastle is priceless. Wins against Southampton and Everton really take the pressure of relegation off the team in a period where we travel to Chelsea (GW24) and Man United (GW25) up next, before a run of games that should see the team seal their Premier League status for another season.
A note on Southampton, who weren’t all bad this afternoon, is that they need some more experience on the bench. Only Moussa Djenepo had seen any real first team action for the Saints and it showed as Hasenhuttl only made one attacking change, in the 81st minute no less and of course it wasn’t for Djenepo. It’ll be hard for Southampton to dig out of a few bad results if they don’t have the trust to empower some younger faces – it might be a good remedy to inject some fresh legs into their faltering campaign.
Venue: St. James' Park
Manager: Steve Bruce
GK: K. Darlow
DEF: J. Manquillo (Krafth 24')
DEF: I. Hayden
DEF: F. Schär (injured 79')
DEF: J. Lewis
MID: J. Hendrick (red card 50')
MID: J. Shelvey
MID: J. Willock
MID: M. Almirón
MID: A. Saint-Maximin (Dummett 67')
FOR: C. Wilson (Joelinton 36')
Dubravka, Dummett, Carroll, Joelinton, Ritchie, Gayle, Krafth, Fraser, Anderson
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl
GK: A. McCarthy
DEF: J. Stephens (N'Lundulu 81')
DEF: J. Bednarek
DEF: J. Vestergaard
DEF: R. Bertrand
MID: N. Redmond
MID: J. Ward-Prowse
MID: O. Romeu
MID: T. Minamino
FOR: C. Adams
FOR: D. Ings
Djenepo, Salisu, Tella, Ramsay, N'Lundulu, Forster, Finnigan, Watts, Chauke
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