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Opinion

Newcastle United reveal bench power

12 months ago
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The final scoreline read Newcastle 2 Wolves 1.

Anybody who has watched the match will know that it should never have been that close.

Alexander Isak took his goal superbly but once again, Newcastle United couldn’t really turn their attacking play and opportunities into the goals they deserved.

When Bruno Guimaraes headed against the bar from a few yards out, I think many of us had very quiet but audible alarm bells ringing, despite Newcastle United so much on top and a second goal looking inevitable.

Despite thirteen shots and six corners in those opening 45 minutes, a second goal didn’t arrive before the break.

Then as so often happens in these circumstances, when you don’t take your chances when on top, you get punished.

Wolves are a decent team with some very good individuals, after all, they have spent more on new players than Newcastle United these past five years since promotion in 2018.

They don’t score many goals but are capable of playing some lovely football and if they do score a goal, then it does usually make alarm bells ring, as whilst they don’t score too often, they tend not to concede many either.

With twenty minutes to go, Newcastle United conceded the equaliser in the cruelest of fashions, Trippier slipping as he attempted to clear, Pope leaving the goal totally unattended as he’d gone to collect the ball if the NUFC Captain had just left it, the net result the ball rolled gently for just introduced Wolves sub Hwang Hee-Chan to score the easiest of chances.

I think fair to say that at this point, many (most?) watching at St James’ Park, were very much now accepting that this was going to be a sixth 1-1 in the last eight meetings between the two clubs.

No.

The Newcastle United bench power made the difference.

Just before that cruel Wolves equaliser, Eddie Howe had made a double change Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson replacing Allan Saint-Maximin and Alexander Isak as their energy / pace levels had visibly lowered.

The two subs made the difference, Wilson doing a decent job leading the line whilst Miggy in particular was electric.

Wolves struggling to deal with his pace and movement.

Zero surprise that it was supersub Almiron getting that winner nine minutes after appearing off the bench, with the help of Joe Willock the Paraguayan sliced through the visiting defence and got the winner.

Almiron also playing a massive part in a superb team move that could have potentially been Premier League goal of the month in the final seconds. Newcastle United pretending they were going to waste time on a short corner and instead a luscious bit of interplay saw a Bruno exquisite flick release Miggy and his cutback put it on a plate for Sven Botman to get his first NUFC goal and make absolutely sure of the win, only for his right foot shot to somehow end up the wrong side of the post.

Anyway, bench power.

My point is that this is so so important now in the Premier League.

Almiron came off the bench and scored the winner yesterday, whilst eight weeks earlier the most recent previous PL victory had seen sub Alexander Isak subbed on and scoring that very late headed winner against Fulham.

Isak in the cup final was superb when coming on for the second half and unlucky not to end up turning the game, whilst at Man City last weekend, when Willock, ASM and Isak came off the bench at 1-0 down and half an hour left, they all looked really good. Newcastle given an extra edge and Willock quickly putting a fine low cross in from the right for Joelinton to score the equaliser unmarked eight yards out in the middle of the goal, only to somehow miss the ball. Silva straight up the other end scoring a killer second.

That still didn’t take away from the fact that with quality subs in reserve, Eddie Howe had a powerful weapon and Newcastle raised their game.

As with many things though, Newcastle United are playing catch up when it comes to bench power.

The usual suspects forced through a permanent change to Premier League clubs now able to change an entire half an outfield team in any match. It is ridiculous the advantage this gives the likes of Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. So often bringing on up to five fresh subs who are better than any of the starting eleven on the opposition side!

Joelinton will be back from suspension after the international break, Anthony Gordon will also reportedly be back fit from his ankle knock for the Man U game on Sunday 2 April, Callum Wilson should be hopefully back to full fitness by then as well.

With Matt Targett now also available, fingers crossed that April will see Eddie Howe with a pretty much full squad to choose from AND the bench power to affect matches when needed. Plus of course having the ability to rotate players with so many Premier League games to get through next month.

I think we will know Newcastle United are really getting there as ongoing competition for those usual suspects, when we get to the point where you look at the NUFC subs bench and see eight outfield players who you believe could come on, any of them, and positively impact the match.

We are getting there for sure, just a question of time.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 2 Wolves 1 – Sunday 12 March 4.30pm

Goals:

Newcastle United:

Isak 26, Almiron 79

Wolves:

Hwang Hee-Chan 70

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was Wolves 58% (49%) Newcastle 42% (51%)

Total shots were Wolves 7 (2) Newcastle 19 (13)

Shots on target were Wolves 4 (1) Newcastle 8 (5)

Corners were Wolves 3 (1) Newcastle 10 (6)

Referee: Andy Madley

Attendance: 52,240 (Wolves 3,000)

Newcastle United:

Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Longstaff, Bruno, Willock, Murphy (Ritchie 85), Isak (Wilson 68), Saint-Maximin (Almiron 68)

Unused Subs:

Dubravka, Dummett, Lascelles, Targett, Manquillo, Anderson

(United are back! Newcastle 2 Wolves 1 – Read HERE)

(Make sure you have close look again at Newcastle 2 Wolves 1 – These 2 TV replays stunned me – Read HERE)

(Julen Lopetegui blames referee for Wolves defeat at Newcastle United – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 2 Wolves 1 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 2 Wolves 1 – The instant NUFC fan / writer reaction – Read HERE)

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