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Match Recap: Better Still Isn’t Good Enough

Newcastle vs Burnley Premier League Recap

Newcastle United v Burnley FC - Premier League Photo by Lee Parker - CameraSport via Getty Images

There was a lot of anticipation going into this match. A Newcastle team that has struggled of late and a lot of rumors swirling around about a formation change. Steve Bruce has to be feeling the heat in this moment. After this match, would I believe that things have changed? I would still say no.

On Saturday, Newcastle United drew Burnley at home 0-0. Going over 6 hours in the Premier League without a goal and dropping even further into a relegation scrap. Let’s dive into the match.

Lineup: Dubravka, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Rose, Hayden, Shelvey, Ritchie, Almiron, Joelinton, Gayle

Subs: Darlow, Schar, Lejeune, Yedlin, S. Longstaff, Bentaleb, Saint-Maximin

My initial thoughts was that I am shocked it was Saint-Maximin that was dropped from the lineup. I predicted that it would be Joelinton that sees the bench but Bruce is sticking with the record signing.

The second thought I had is it looks like a back 4. Maybe a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2.

Newcastle United v Burnley FC - Premier League Photo by Iam Burn/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Bruce marched out a 4-2-3-1 right from the start. Gayle up top with Almiron as the 10. Joelinton left, Ritchie right, Hayden and Shelvey sitting deep in the midfield. Manquillo was RB and Rose was LB.

The first partnership that developed in this new formation was Shelvey and Gayle. Shelvey was consistently looking for where the front man was running and he tried to ping passes to him right from the get go. You could tell this was something that was worked on in practice.

For Burnley, their attack was finding space between the back 4 and Hayden and Shelvey. You would constantly find attackers sitting there most of the match.

No one was going to be surprised that this match was going to be painful to watch and the first 15 minutes proved that. No real chances by either side, Burnley passed the ball out of play a few times, Newcastle had nothing going and both teams were just resorting to long balls.

Dubravka came up big in the 22nd minute. Dubravka had to smack the ball off the line after Hendrick tried to chip him. Luckily Duby was able to get back in time to make the play. Burnley had the momentum.

On the other end, Burnley keeper Nick Pope was kicking the ball out of play. Pretty much summed up the match.

Newcastle United v Burnley FC - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In the 27th minute, Newcastle had their first chance. Ritchie hits a pass from the right to Almiron and he was able to get past Mee and tried a left footed effort but Pope was able to save comfortably.

A second chance came in the 32nd minute. Almiron has been looking great playing the 10, and he runs right through the middle and lays off a pass to Gayle on the left. Gayle was able to cross the ball to Ritchie to headed it wide.

Danny Rose was booked for a foul on Hendrick and then Burnley went on a few successive corners.

In the 42nd minute, NUFC gets another chance. A corner on the left is floated to Shelvey on the edge of the box. His volley was blocked and Almiron got to the ball and his shot was blocked and goes out for a corner. Then two more corners happen for NUFC but neither was able to come to anything.

Half-Time 0-0

Overall, an extremely boring first half. Newcastle did look better, and it proved we can play with a back four but there was not really any real threat on goal for NUFC and that is most concerning. Almiron looked good at the 10 roles as well. He was creating a lot of opportunities on the attack. Gayle was getting into the box way more than we usually see from out striker so things were definitely encouraging.

Second Half Underway

The first 15 minutes of the 2nd half were lifeless. No team had a chance on goal and Burnley was packing the box on any NUFC attack. It seemed like any time NUFC wanted to attack they would just try to hit a long ball to Gayle. At this point, that didn’t make much sense because it hasn't worked all match.

64th minute and Burnley had a fantastic chance. McNeil attacks down the left and puts a wonderful ball into the box. Wood rises to meet it and somehow the ball goes very wide. He should of scored that.

The next 10ish minutes was Almiron providing all the attacks for Newcastle but still, nothing came of any of it. Shelvey was booked, crowd was chanting “Attack, Attack,”. But still, 75 minutes in, and Bruce hasn’t made a sub.

Newcastle United v Burnley FC - Premier League Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

78th Minute Sub: Joelinton OFF, Saint-Maximin ON. Huge applause from the Toon faithful as St Max runs on the pitch. The next 10ish minutes was a back and forth clash where Ritchie tried to get more involved, however, nothing even close to materializing.

In the 1st minute of added time NUFC had an incredible opportunity on the counter. Saint Max beats a defender and lays it off to Shelvey who beats his man and gets the ball to Ritchie. Its a 3 on 2 opportunity and Ritchie passes the ball right into his defender and its blocked.


Like I mentioned earlier, no one expected this to be a great game and it certainly wasn’t. Newcastle did look better overall but they still lack any creativity and that is what a formation change was supposed to change. They haven’t scored a goal in 4 matches and they have 1 win in the last 10 matches. Not good at all. The bottom is catching up and supporters are right to be concerned.

Stats and Things:

  • Newcastle remain in 14th place on the table with 32 points. They are now 5 points from 10th place, and 5 points from a relegation place.
  • For the first time in Newcastle United history, Newcastle have 3 straight 0-0 draws at home.
  • Newcastle have gone 360 minutes without a Premier League goal. The record is 464.
  • On the contrary, its been 364 minutes since an opponent has scored a goal at St. James Park.
  • Newcastle won the xG matchup. NUFC had 1.19xG and Burnley had 0.60.
  • Dwight Gayle led Newcastle in xG with 0.37. Miguel Almiron led the team in xA with 0.28.
  • PPDA (Passes allowed per defensive action in the opposition half) is another advanced stat is covered. Newcastle gave up 6.86 PPDA against Burnley. Burnley gave up 8.00 PPDA
  • xPTS is another stat predicting the amount of expected points each team were supposed to get based on match-play. Newcastle had 1.83xPTS and Burnley had 0.86xPTS.
  • Sunderland are still in League One
  • Whoscored ranked each individual performance, these were the players the received a 7 or higher for Newcastle : Isaac Hayden (7.39), Miguel Almiron (7.27), Matt Ritchie (7.26), Federico Fernandez (7.03).
  • NUFC are currently in 14th place in the Premier League. fivethirtyeight predicts Newcastle will finish the season in 14th place on 41 points. NUFC currently have a 16% chance to get relegated and a 1% chance on a top 10 finish. Below us, they predict Bournemouth, Aston Villa, and Norwich to be relegated.



Steve Bruce:

”It was a better performance. There are positives I can take - a clean sheet and a point which gets us to the target we want to get to.

”When you do create chances in the big league, you need to take them. I’m pleased we created more and were a threat.

”There are still eight or 10 teams in there. When you are in the bottom half of the division you know how hard it is to win a game.

”We’ve got the second best defensive record at home but I’m sure fans will be saying ‘yeah, but we don’t score enough!’

”We haven’t been able to take our chances. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win but there were positives to take from it.

”When disappointed with results, you can change the system or personnel.

”For a long time, they’ve played a certain way and I didn’t want to tamper with it because they’re very comfortable. We thought we’d try something different.

”I thought we carried a better threat going forward. We had some big opportunities but, unfortunately, didn’t take them.

The only thing a coach can do is change personnel and shape*. It (goals) is our Achilles heel.

* there’s a clue in the word “coach” there Steve.....

”We’ve had 20 attempts, I think, which is far more than we’ve had before and to be fair to Burnley, the number of times they got a block in or a deflection or a challenge, you have to say well done to them to for the defensive show they put on.”

On Saint-Maximin:

”He hasn’t been right all week with his hamstring. For me, he’s been training at half pace. On Thursday, he was claiming he was sore, so I was never going to take a chance.