Fresh Newcastle United injury, new deal boost & Brentford boss’ ‘bizarre’ moment - five things
Newcastle United got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory against Brentford at St James’ Park on Saturday evening - here are some talking points from the match.
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Eddie Howe makes five changes to his Newcastle United side as injury blow confirmed
Following three consecutive defeats and a two-week international break, Newcastle boss Eddie Howe shook things up for the return to Premier League action with five changes to his side, plus a change of position for Anthony Gordon as he swapped to the left flank.
Sven Botman returned from an ankle injury as expected for Matt Targett as Newcastle returned to their traditional back four and goalkeeper. But the midfield three and front three saw significant changes made.
Bruno Guimaraes kept his place in the side following international duty with Brazil but a knee injury to Joelinton and thigh issue for Sandro Tonali forced Howe to hand Elliot Anderson and Sean Longstaff their first starts of the season.
Tonali was fit enough to make the bench after passing a late fitness test but Joelinton has been ruled out for ‘a few weeks’.
In attack, Harvey Barnes was handed his first start for the club while Callum Wilson admitted it was ‘about time’ he started a match up front after scoring twice from the bench in Newcastle’s opening four games.
Explaining the changes, Howe told The Gazette: “We had a few injuries with Joelinton and Sandro [Tonali] picking up injuries on international duty.
“The lads that stayed behind trained very well, as I said in the press conference on Friday, we put in a really good amount of work in and I focused on the players from that who deserved to start.”
Newcastle’s disjointed start to the game was arguably partly down to the new-look starting line-up as they struggled to keep hold of the ball and pose Brentford any serious issues.
But as the game progressed, they slowly but surely started to establish themselves.
Bruno Guimaraes’ chance & disallowed goal
Newcastle had a golden chance to open the scoring in the first half as Bruno Guimaraes’ back post header was kept out by Mark Flekken in the Brentford goal.
That was arguably the opportunity that sparked The Magpies into life as they ended the first half the stronger of the two teams after a slow start to the game.
And they carried that momentum into the second half with Callum Wilson finding the net shortly after the restart. The United No. 9 ran away celebrating only to have his smile dashed by referee Craig Pawson, who pulled play back for a foul on Flekken.
Replays showed Wilson backed into the goalkeeper, who fumbled the ball before the striker tapped in, but the contact was minimal.
Newcastle legend Alan Shearer hit out at the decision to disallow the goal as ‘weak’ and ‘never a foul’.
Wilson said afterwards: “I think they [goalkeepers] get a little bit too much protection from the goalkeepers. At corners, they’re pushing you but if you touch them back it’s a foul.”
Callum Wilson marks new contract with a goal
Wilson would still manage to get on the scoresheet shortly afterwards to celebrate his new contract with a goal. On Friday, it was announced the 31-year-old had signed a one-year extension to keep him at the club until the summer of 2025.
The following day, Wilson did what he does best and found the net for Newcastle after Anthony Gordon was fouled inside the penalty area by the Brentford goalkeeper.
Referee Pawson didn’t initially give the penalty with Brentford defender Christian Norgaard claiming afterwards that the official said it wasn’t a penalty, only for the linesman to give it.
Because of that, VAR couldn’t intervene and the penalty was awarded.
Wilson stepped up and confidently dispatched his third goal of the season and 41st Premier League goal for Newcastle in just his 80th appearance, with only 61 of those being starts. The goal takes him level with Les Ferdinand into joint-fifth in Newcastle’s all-time Premier League goalscorer rankings.
He is now just six shy of Peter Beardsley in second but has admitted himself that he won’t catch Shearer who leads the way by some distance on 148 league goals for The Magpies.
Wilson also has an impeccable record from the penalty spot, scoring 10 out of 10 penalties since he joined the club. Only Beardsley (14 out of 14) has a better 100% record for Newcastle in the Premier League.
Thomas Frank’s bizarre press conference
Newcastle were awarded another penalty in the closing stages of the game for handball against Bryan Mbuemo only for VAR to overturn the decision as Wilson’s spot-kick proved to be the match winner.
The Magpies held out for their first clean sheet of the season while Brentford suffered their first defeat.
And Bees boss Thomas Frank was not happy in his post-match press conference. The Dane hit out at the decision to award Newcastle the penalty, even implying the reporter who asked the question was biased in favour of the home side.
"Are you from Newcastle?" Frank questioned as he felt the decision to award Newcastle the penalty was wrong before launching an unprovoked attack on the ball boys at the end of his press conference.
“I think with all these new rules of where they add time, if the ball boys don’t want to give the ball back I think it should be an extra minute,” Frank said. “That’s just to the ref I want to say that.”
Onto AC Milan on a high
Saturday’s win was important for Newcastle for many reasons, not least because it allows players, fans and staff alike to head into AC Milan on a high and without the dark cloud of four consecutive Premier League defeats hanging over them.
The Magpies head to the San Siro with some confidence while Milan will be looking to bounce back from a 5-1 humiliation by rivals Inter Milan over the weekend.