Usually when I wake up in the morning in Las Vegas to watch a match the first thing that gets in my mind is “is this going to be a complete waste of time?” When an early Newcastle goal then its automatically worth it, when they don’t? (usually the case) You keep wondering what you are doing up this early. But I speak with many West Coasters and say that we love this club and we will get up early and often to watch Newcastle United.
6:00am PST - Lineups announced
Dubravka, Clark, Fernandez, Willems, Hayden, S. Longstaff, M. Longstaff, Almiron, Joelinton, Gayle
I think we’re at the point where if Gayle is in the starting lineup, we’re surprised. With both Longstaff’s in, that most likely meant that Hayden was going to be a Wing-Back.
Another thing of note was the bench. Kelland Watts who was recalled from loan from Stevenage and Tom Allan were on the sheet. I wonder if this was because of injuries, or will we actually see one or both play in the Premier League this season.
7:00am PST - Kick-Off
The formation took shape. Gayle up top alone and then when NUFC get the ball, Joelinton joins him as a top 2. When NUFC are defending, Joe moves to a Right Wing position. Hayden, as thought, was a Right-Wing-Back.
The game started with Wolves dominating possession and it was clear that 5-4-1 was the formation of choice to defend it.
7:07am PST - GOAL! ALMIRON 1-0 NUFC
Waking up early was well worth it! A lovely right-footed effort from him for his 3rd goal in 3 weeks. The play started with Sean Longstaff passing down the left to Willems. Willems slides a low pass to Gayle who tapped it to Almiron, then Miggy had an incredible finish in the top right corner of the net!
In the first 10 minutes, Almiron was clearly the better player and Gayle was playing well also. He was a lot better at linking play between the two up top and the midfield. It was really benefiting the team.
7:12am PST - Paul Dummett goes down injured. Substitute Dummett off for Lejeune.
7:14am PST - Goal Wolves 1-1
Moutinho whips in a cross and Dendoncker beats Fernandez to the ball and side-foots the ball into the net. Pretty brutal defending for Newcastle.
The next 10 minutes were a bit of back and forth. Gayle was still doing well connecting the middle with the striker position and Lejeune was playing as the middle of the three CBs. I think this decision was made because Lejeune was a risk to get burned by the speed of Trapre.
7:28am PST - Gayle gets injured. Substitution, Gayle off for Atsu
7:34am PST - Dubravka saves the day! (and the ball) Traore crosses the ball from the right and Jimenez jumps in the air to head the ball towards goal. Dubravka was able to stick his left foot out to make a vital save to keep this game tied.
7:45am PST - Halftime 1-1
Newcastle really started strong in this one and Gayle and Almiron were really gashing Wolves. But with Wolves getting a quick goal to tie made this one interesting. Two injuries really hurt the momentum of Newcastle and with only 1 substitution left, it was always going to be hard to navigate the second half.
8:03am PST - Matty Longstaff goal line clearance
Traore continued his dominance using his speed to his advantage by running right past Willems. He chipped the ball into the penalty area and Hayden flicked the ball away. Doherty got on the ball and hit it goalward and Matty Longstaff was there to save the day by getting his foot up and smashing the ball out.
From this point on, Newcastle did get the ball more than usual, but there was a hesitancy to make those marauding runs they usually like to do because they needed to save their legs for the entire match with only 1 sub to make.
When Wolves attacked, it was a clear and disciplined looking 5-4-1 and Newcastle were happy to sit in that formation and bunker in.
8:32am PST - Dubravka save the day again!
Doherty curled the ball and we had two CBs there but neither could get to the ball (Lejeune and Fernandez) but eventually Neto gets a free header at the back post and Dubravka slides over to make a stunning save at the post.
8:35am PST - Substitution: Joelinton off for Carroll
For the rest of the match, the only pace we saw was from Almiron or Traore. Both were easily the best two on the pitch.
9:05am PST - Full Time 1-1
Newcastle deserved a point. They did enough to get that. Wolves got some great opportunities but the way Newcastle played deserved the point.
Stats and Things:
- Newcastle sit in 13th place on the table with 26 points. They are now only 5 points from a relegation place.
- United are now unbeaten on their last six visits to Molineux in all competitions and have never lost there in the Premier League. Their last top-flight reverse there was in November 1977.
- Newcastle lost the xG matchup as well. NUFC had 0.18 xG and Wolves had 2.06.
- Almiron led Newcastle in xG with 0.14. Gayle led the team in xA with 0.12.
- PPDA (Passes allowed per defensive action in the opposition half) is another advanced stat is covered. For PPDA it is a bit of a non-factor for Newcastle because how much we bunker, a lot. But Newcastle gave up a bad 19.00 PPDA against Wolves. For context, they gave up 14 against Everton and 37 against Leicester. Higher numbers are not a good thing in this stat. Wolves gave up 4.86 PPDA
- Sunderland are still in League One
- Whoscored ranked each individual performance, these were the players the received a 7 or higher for Newcastle : Miguel Almiron (8.57), Dwight Gayle (7.29), Matty Longstaff (7.16)
- Even though we are currently in 13th place. fivethirtyeight predicts Newcastle will finish the season in 16th place on 41 points. Below us, they predict as West Ham, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, and Norwich.
Steve Bruce said:
”In the first 20 minutes, I thought we looked very dangerous and scored a great goal.
”Unfortunately, to lose two - and nearly three because Joelinton was nowhere near fit... is bordering on ridiculous. With the problems, you take a point.
”With the problems we’ve got we deserved something. I don’t think there’s a club out there which has 12 or 13 players missing.
”They ran a million miles and their resilience was there for everyone to see. We lacked a bit of quality in the top end of the pitch but I couldn’t fault their effort and endeavour.
”I thought it was going to be a repeat of when we lost four players in 12 minutes against Leicester.
”Joe(linton) had the courage to carry on when we were down to the bare bones. It’s ridiculous, I’ve never known anything like it in 40 years.
”Dummett has done his other leg - the hamstring.”
“Gayle, we think is a groin injury. We’ll see how he is. It’s really frustrating for all of us.”
“He was terrific (before going off injured).
“I’ve been asked this question time and time again. Why am I going to let him go on loan? And to where?
“It’s not possible, not with the problems we’ve had. I’ve said that from day one.
“I’ve waited for him for two and a half months because he’s been injured, then the team has done OK so he’s found it a struggle to get in.
“I’ve started him twice in the last four or five games! He was excellent today.
“He’s not going anywhere, it’s quite simple
“He’s a top, top player, isn’t he?
“People were questioning him when he hadn’t scored a goal but he’s a top player, a top pro, a great lad, and a delight to have.”