Newcastle United star was a breath of fresh air against Manchester City – Eddie Howe now faces a decision for Arsenal

On a bad afternoon for Newcastle United at Manchester City, there was still one big positive to take.

Monday, 9th May 2022, 3:00 pm

The long-awaited return of Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier provided a well-timed boost for Newcastle United before the end of the Premier League season.

There were doubts the pair would be seen again this campaign after lengthy spells on the sidelines with respective calf and metatarsal injuries.

But after returning to full-training, both were named in Newcastle’s matchday squad at the Etihad Stadium. While things didn’t go United’s way at all, with City running-out as 5-0 winners, both Wilson and Trippier played the final 25 minutes.

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Newcastle striker Callum Wilson applauds the fans after the Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on May 08, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The pair’s absence over the past few months hasn't really been felt by Newcastle as they've maintained their good form for the most part. But both players provided a refreshing reminder of what they bring to the side, even if they are still understandably short in terms of match sharpness.

Only Kevin De Bruyne (11) and Allan Saint-Maximin (4) put more crosses into the opposition box than Trippier (3) despite the England right-back’s limited time on the pitch and Newcastle’s lack of possession.

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But it was Wilson’s introduction that was particularly encouraging as he replaced Chris Wood to mark his first appearance of 2022.

Newcastle United's English defender Kieran Trippier (L) vies with Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 8, 2022. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Newcastle have been in good form with Wood in the side – winning nine of the 16 games the £25million January arrival has played – but the striker’s limitations are becoming more clear as the weeks go by as he missed another golden opportunity early on after being set-up by Saint-Maximin.

Eddie Howe remains a big fan of the New Zealand international, who has certainly helped fill the gap in Wilson’s absence. But the choice between Wood and a fit Wilson shouldn’t be a choice at all based on what we’ve seen this season at least.

Both have played 16 times in the Premier League for Newcastle in 2021-22. Wood has scored twice while Wilson has remained Newcastle's top scorer throughout his injury with six.

Although arguments can be made for what Wood brings to the side in terms of aerial ability, having won the most aerial duels of any player in the Premier League this season, strikers will always be judged on their ability to create and take their own chances.

And in the 83rd minute, Wilson provided a welcome albeit frustrating reminder of what Newcastle have been missing up front in his absence.

The control, power and pace displayed to win the ball ahead of Joao Cancelo and find Jacob Murphy in Manchester City’s half, followed by the movement to run in behind Fernandinho and latch onto Murphy’s pass, is the type of forward play United need to show on a far more regular basis.

In two touches, Wilson and Murphy had undone the Premier League’s meanest defence – it was a shame that perhaps some rustiness in front of goal and Ederson reacting quickly denied Wilson the chance to mark his return with his seventh of the campaign.

With two games left to go, Howe now faces a choice whether to start a recovering Wilson or goal-shy Wood. The United head coach has already admitted he won’t start them together, so it will be a case of one or the other against Arsenal and Burnley.

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