Newcastle United’s new ‘Saudi’ sponsorship, double injury concern and Eddie Howe breaks record – moments missed
Newcastle United beat Chelsea 1-0 at St James’s Park on Saturday afternoon – here are some moments missed from the match.
Pre-match protest against the club’s owners
Newcastle United fans are no strangers to matchday protests after 14 years of Mike Ashley’s ownership. But Saturday saw a group of supporters peacefully protest the club’s current ownership model.
Last October, Newcastle were taken over by a consortium consisting of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media. While things on and off the pitch at the club have progressed significantly since then with the club finding themselves competing for European football for the first time in over a decade, some supporters wanted to highlight issues away from football.
Newcastle are now closely linked with Saudi Arabia, a country they will visit for the second time this year during the World Cup break. The NUFC Fans Against Sportswashing group stood outside St James’s Park ahead of the match to highlight human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.
The protest came just days after Newcastle’s owners revealed that a further £70.4million of equity had been invested into the club. Over £450million has been invested since the takeover.
A new Saudi sponsors on show
Amid the protest, Newcastle’s links with Saudi Arabia were on full display on Saturday afternoon as the matchday heroes sponsor was announced as ‘Saudi business links – your gateway to Arabia’.
The Magpies are searching for a new front of shirt sponsor for next season and have already forged partnerships with companies who have high prominence in Saudi Arabia such as their sleeve sponsor, Noon.
Ahead of the match, photos showing staff of Saudi Arabia’s national airline Saudia outside St James’s Park emerged online. It appeared that they were posing for publicity material linked with the club.
Saudia has long been suggested as a potential new sponsor for the club given its clear links to the Gulf state. And Saudia’s logo could be seen on the stadium’s advertising boards on Saturday evening, suggesting some form of commercial partnership is already in place.
New Miguel Almiron flag taunts Jack Grealish
Newcastle fans are not going to let Jack Grealish forget Miguel Almiron’s dramatic turn in form this season.
The pre-match Wor Flags display included a photoshopped flag showing a delighted Almiron and upset Grealish stood alongside each other with a speech bubble coming from the Manchester City man’s mouth saying: “Wish I could play like Almiron.”
Grealish was subject to criticism for saying his team-mate Riyad Mahrez was ‘playing like Almiron’ as an insult during Man City’s title celebrations back in May.
But Almiron has scored eight goals already this season while Grealish has found the net just once in the league since making the comment.
The Paraguayan picked up the Premier League’s player and goal of the month awards for October on the eve of the match and impressed again despite his goalscoring run coming to an end.
After a goalless first half, Almiron’s determined run ultimately set up the winner as he brought the ball to the edge of the box for Joe Willock to whip into the top right corner. It was a stunning finish from the midfielder as he found the net for the second league game in a row.
Nick Pope instigates post match celebrations
Newcastle were able to grind out three points and keep their seventh Premier League clean sheet of the season after seven minutes of added time.
At full-time, tempers flared as players from both teams clashed. Chelsea’s players let their frustrations get the better of them with Kai Havertz and Dan Burn locked in an altercation which started a tussle and attracted several players, including Nick Pope.
But all it took to switch the focus back to enjoying the three points was for Pope to take himself away from the drama, walk towards the Leazes Stand and let out an almighty fist-pump.
From there, the post-match celebrations ensued as it started a lap of honour from the Newcastle players and staff to the soundtrack of Primal Scream’s Moving on Up followed by Hey Jude by The Beatles.
Unseen injury concerns?
Fabian Schar and Sven Botman have formed a formidable defensive partnership at Newcastle this season as they kept yet another clean sheet. The Magpies are also yet to concede a goal in the opening 45 minutes of a match since August, a run stretching back 12 games in all competitions.
During the match, both players picked up slight knocks. Schar took a blow to the head in the first half but managed to play on without any apparent issues while Botman was withdrawn in the closing stages after taking a blow to his ankle.
After the match, Howe wasn’t able to ease any injury fears as he said: “Fabi, we’re not sure on. Sven, it seemed like he injured his ankle. We hope it’s not serious.”
Despite the injury scare, Schar is set to join up with the Switzerland squad for the World Cup and fly out to Qatar on Monday. It will be the 30-year-old’s third World Cup.
Botman missed out on the Netherlands 26-man squad on Friday and will be assessed at Newcastle during the World Cup break.
Eddie Howe sets a new record
The 1-0 win was Newcastle’s fifth in a row in the league as they went 10 games unbeaten for the first time since 2011. It was also the first time Howe has gone 10 Premier League matches unbeaten as a manager, beating his nine game run at Newcastle set between December and March last season.
That run ended with a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea but this time the tables turned as The Magpies head into the break as the league’s in form side.
Howe’s side sit third in the table after 15 games, which is where they’ll stay until at least Boxing Day when they return to action at Leicester City.