Since this was just the second time Newcastle won a league match away from home this season, it’s not surprising that they wanted to enjoy every moment. Their fans, who were even willing to go shirtless in the freezing weather by the end, definitely did.
Fabian Schär scored two goals, and in the final moments of the game, he attempted a Cruyff turn past midfield. Meanwhile, Anthony Gordon sang along to the Toon Army’s terrace anthem, “Who’s That Team We Call United?”, as the players celebrated in front of the away fans. It was a memorable evening for Eddie Howe’s team, with various moments captured in a rich tapestry. Bruno Guimarães, who had a stellar performance, was seen heading towards the tunnel holding a Kinder Bueno chocolate bar, his favorite sweet treat that was given to him by a fan.
Villa’s emotions at the end of the game were very different, as they had a lackluster performance until Leon Bailey came on in the 61st minute. This led to their first league defeat at home in 346 days, since losing to Arsenal in February of last year. Ollie Watkins scored his 50th goal in the Premier League for Aston Villa, making him the third player to reach this milestone after Gabby Agbonlahor and Dwight Yorke. However, it was ultimately a disappointing game for the team. Other than Bailey’s impact, there were few positive aspects. For Unai Emery’s team, they have only won one game out of their last five in the league. Is their chances of making it to the top four diminishing?
Sean Longstaff almost scored a fourth goal for Newcastle in the 89th minute, capping off a five-star performance from the team. However, there was a disappointing moment when Alexander Isak had to leave the game due to a potential groin injury towards the end of the first half. This left manager Eddie Howe with no healthy strikers on the field. Fortunately, Howe is optimistic that Isak’s injury is not severe and Callum Wilson is close to returning to training after dealing with a calf issue. Howe also denied any rumors of Newcastle making any last-minute transfers before the deadline on Thursday.
Howe stated that he anticipates completing the necessary tasks within the given timeframe. He also mentioned that there is limited time to make any changes or additions. He expressed doubts about having the financial means to make any further moves.
In their previous encounter this season, Newcastle emerged victorious with a score of 5-1, making Villa aware of the potential danger posed by Howe’s team. Despite their lack of success on the road this season, with five consecutive losses away from St James’ Park in the league, Villa knew that Howe’s side was capable of causing damage. Their only away win in the top division this season was their dominant 8-0 victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in September, with eight different players scoring.
Schär was among the players who did not score during the match, but he played a key role in Newcastle’s two first-half goals, which were scored within four minutes. These goals were both created from corners taken by Kieran Trippier. The first goal was scored when Schär outplayed Douglas Luiz and sidefooted the ball into the net. The second goal came from the defender’s quick reaction to Anthony Gordon’s deflected volley off Clément Lenglet, which bounced off the crossbar. These were Schär’s second and third goals of the season.
In the opening minute, it was evident that Newcastle’s strategy was to take advantage of the space behind Villa’s defensive line. Isak was called offside while chasing a pass from Schär, and shortly after, he signaled with a thumbs up to acknowledge Guimarães’s long pass down the center.
Until John McGinn made a harsh but fair challenge on Gordon, the game – and indeed the atmosphere – seemed strangely flat. As with Villa’s 0-0 draw in the FA Cup fourth round at Chelsea on Friday, perhaps it is just a sign of the heightened expectations given their record this season. Howe is certainly familiar with that. “I told the players I’m very proud of them, our supporters and our work at Villa Park,” Emery said. “A loss had to come and we cannot lose perspective. When Newcastle played as they did, it is not easy to win.”
Schär was a consistent presence for Newcastle, both scoring and defending well. He made a crucial clearance early in the second half. Miguel Almirón is also a dependable option for Newcastle, and when he came on as a substitute for Isak in the 43rd minute, he caused trouble for Villa’s defense by running down the left side. Jacob Murphy was waiting at the back post and, although he didn’t make perfect contact with Almirón’s cross, he was able to score. Àlex Moreno collided with the post while trying to keep the ball out, but it was too late.
Due to a back injury, Bailey was not considered fit enough to start, but he still played a crucial role in Villa’s goal. McGinn passed the ball to Bailey on the right, and Bailey then assisted Watkins, who scored from close range. Emery quickly checked the scoreboard to see how much time was left. In simpler terms, he wanted to know how much time was remaining in the game. Two minutes later, Watkins thought he had scored another goal with Bailey’s help, but the assistant referee, Lee Betts, raised his flag to signal offside. McGinn stopped celebrating and a review from VAR confirmed that Watkins had indeed been offside. However, Newcastle’s celebrations continued late into the night.