Premier League

Isak and Almiron provide a spark that keeps weary Newcastle firmly in the Champions League picture

Almiron Newcastle

Newcastle ended a five-match winless run by beating Wolves, and also ended another unwanted streak going all the way back to April 2021.


In more ways than one, Newcastle needed every single bit of that.

They needed a performance, they needed a win, they needed Miguel Almiron.

This was much more like the team that appeared set for the Champions League before a five-match winless run left them behind malfunctioning Big Sixers Spurs and Liverpool. It says a great deal about the mistakes of that pair – as well as the more catastrophic collapse of Chelsea – that a run of one win in eight hasn’t entirely derailed their top-four chances. They’re now back up above Liverpool in fifth, and just four points behind Spurs with two games in hand.

We’re firmly at a point, though, where the benefits of games in hand are dubious. Everyone has lots of games to play over the next couple of months; you don’t really want to be the team with more of them. The ancient laws of Games in Hand decree that they will always be viewed as delivering maximum points or zero points but outside exceptional circumstances I’ve always been a Points on the Board man. Spurs hold the whip hand.

But at least Newcastle have put themselves back in the conversation. There were a couple of significant factors that bode well for Eddie Howe’s team. Most obviously, the re-energising return of early-season Miguel Almiron. On the bench for the first time this season, he stepped off it to score the winner and dismantle the growing impression that his – and the team’s – regression to the mean was total. It was a livewire 22-minute cameo in which Wolves unexpectedly equalised almost instantly before Almiron combined with Joe Willock for a lovely-looking winning goal.

Beyond the fact it was their 2022 talisman Almiron who scored it and then embarked on a thrilling wild-eyed celebration, this was also significant for showing something else Newcastle have lacked even during their recent improvements. Bizarrely, this was the first game in any competition since April 2021 Newcastle have won after conceding an equaliser.

They still look quite tired. They still look ever so slightly short of top-four nous despite the frequent bed-shittings of Liverpool and Spurs. They still don’t quite score enough goals – this was the first time they’d managed more than one in a Premier League game since Boxing Day. But overcoming a spirited second-half fightback from Wolves shows there’s still…

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