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Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United: Three talking points from St James’ Park

Jake Jackman

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Newcastle

Newcastle United delivered one of their best performances of the season as they overcame Manchester United in a hard-fought victory. Due to Huddersfield Town’s win earlier in the day, the Magpies started the match in the relegation zone and only three points would see them climb out of the bottom three. That is exactly what they got as they ran themselves into the ground to beat a more talented top-six team. This was the club’s first win at St James’ Park since October and it came at a crucial time. Here are three talking points from the game:

Martin Dubravka shone on his debut

Although Newcastle didn’t do a great deal of business during the January transfer window, they did make three loan signings and one of them was the star of the show on Sunday. Martin Dubravka came in for his Magpies’ debut as he replaced Karl Darlow in goal and it would have been easy to be daunted by the occasion, but the Slovakian international took it in his stride. He was near faultless, as he made a number of crucial saves and marshalled his box effectively.

Benitez has wanted a new goalkeeper since he took over at the club, but last summer’s signing Matz Sels didn’t adjust to English football and that left the manager with the problem that he inherited. Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot have shared the duties of being number one, but neither have stood out as being Premier League quality.

The addition of Dubravka supplied instant benefits, as he was quick to claim crosses and had an excellent control of his area. In the first-half, he made a crucial stop to deny Anthony Martial. With just minutes left, he made an incredible reaction save to make sure Newcastle kept hold of the clean sheet. It was a debut to remember and on this evidence, the Slovakian will be the number one at St James’ Park for the rest of the campaign.

Manchester United lacked options to change the game

There were some strange decisions made by Jose Mourinho as he tried to change the game in his side’s favour in the second half. He brought on Michael Carrick and Juan Mata for Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. This change arguably made them more predictable in attack, as the two players coming on had less pace and dynamism. The third change saw youngster Scott McTominay come on for Nemanja Matic. It was a tough ask for the inexperienced midfielder to get Manchester United back in to the game.

Although the changes arguably made the team worse, there were few options available to Mourinho, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford were all missing from the squad. Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw were on the bench, but neither are attacking players and that is what Manchester United needed.

Paul Pogba looked jaded and lacking fitness for the entire ninety minutes, but he was forced to start due to the lack of other options on Sunday. It is no excuse, but the inability to change the game did leave Mourinho short, especially after falling behind.

Newcastle won the midfield battle

As alluded to above, Paul Poba didn’t look fully fit and Newcastle United took full advantage of that as they won the midfield battle. Mohamed Diame was a figure of frustration for the first-half of the season, but he has improved significantly in recent weeks. He and Jonjo Shelvey were both superb, as they fought hard and distributed the ball well when they had the opportunity to. Between them, they made 13 ball recoveries and five key passes. They fully committed to the cause and played a vital role in the team’s victory.

The renaissance of Diame has been incredible to watch as he is now performing to the level that Rafa Benitez would have expected when he was signed last summer. However, the improvement of Shelvey could prove to be even more important in the long run. The midfielder has been difficult to manage at times due to his ability to lose his head on the pitch. On Sunday, he was a professional and remained focused, which was a mental victory for him.

The Magpies manager and the supporters will be hoping he can continue to perform to this level. If he can, the former Swansea City midfielder can be the player that everybody knows he can become.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur should have swooped for Luciano Vietto this summer

Luciano Vietto could have been a solid back-up to Harry Kane this season.

Mathew Nash

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Fulham pulled off something of a coup on transfer deadline day. The Cottagers snapped up Argentine talent Luciano Vietto on loan from Atletico Madrid for the season. It was a great piece of business from the club, considering the talent the 24-year-old striker possesses.

But one other London club should have been in for the player. Tottenham Hotspur needed striking reinforcements this summer. With Fernando Llorente and Vincent Janssen both unable to provide adequate cover for Harry Kane, it is an area Tottenham struggle.

A move for Anthony Martial was mooted early on, but nothing ever came to pass.

(Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images for ICC)

Vietto could have been a perfect option. With only Llorente for competition, he could have easily become the main back-up to Kane. Mauricio Pochettino is on good terms with his former international team-mate and Atletico manager Diego Simeone, so convincing them of a deal would not have been hard.

Vietto could have arrived on a loan-to-buy scheme, giving Tottenham the chance to sign him next summer should he be a hit.

Whilst many will question whether Vietto would have been good enough for Spurs, his past form indicates he could have done a job. His tally of five goals for Valencia last season is nothing to celebrate. However, his 10 as the back-up at Sevilla the season before and his incredible 2015-16 with former club Villarreal show he just needs a chance to shine.

Fulham may now give him that and, Vietto will hope to prove his worth. Tottenham, however, should have been in the race. If he goes on to thrive in West London, some fans will rightly ask why Spurs did not make a move.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur round-up: Janssen number stripped, Rose can go and Eriksen interest

A selection of the latest news and gossip from Tottenham Hotspur.

Mathew Nash

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Shirt off his back

Vincent Janssen has had his shirt number stripped. The club announced their new squad numbers for the season this afternoon and the Dutch striker is without a number.

He had previously held the number nine shirt, following a move from AZ Alkmaar in the summer of 2016.

However, the number is now vacant as it appears Tottenham try to shift him before the end of the month.

Janssen failed to adapt to Premier League football and spent last season on loan at Fenerbahce.

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Rose allowed to leave

Tottenham are happy to let Danny Rose leave the club before the end of the month. According to The Mirror, Spurs are ready to let Rose leave despite the transfer window being shut.

The England international has fallen out-of-favour with manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is now happy to let him go.

PSG and Schalke have both shown an interest in the player. Both club’s transfer windows remain open.

Tottenham feel they have adequate cover with youngster Kyle Walker-Peters and centre-back Jan Vertonghen able to play in his position.

Eriksen rumours

There is more interest in Christian Eriksen being reported this week. Real Madrid’s interest was already known. However, PSG are also said to be keen on the Danish midfielder.

According to the Daily Star, the French side are preparing a £100 million move for the playmaker before the end of the month.

Tottenham fans should however not be fearful. The club have ruled out any potential exit for Eriksen this summer.

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Everton

Everton round-up: No Jagielka appeal, new duo train and Usmanov investment

A selection of the latest news and gossip from Everton.

Mathew Nash

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No appeal

Everton will not appeal Phil Jagielka’s red card against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Everton captain received a straight red for a dangerous tackle on Diogo Jota, which the player protested was extremely harsh.

Everton boss Marco Silva also felt it was the wrong decision.

However, Everton have decided not to appeal the ruling and accept a three-match ban for the veteran defender – starting this weekend v Southampton.

Everton’s new signings Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma will now push for a starting spot along with youngster Mason Holgate.

(Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Newbies train

However, Mina has still not trained with the Everton first-team. Today saw Zouma and fellow new signing Bernard take part in their first training sessions for the club.

However, the £28.5 million Colombian missed training at Finch Farm. Fellow newbie Andre Gomes also missed the session as he is out with an injury.

Zouma was all smiles in his first session, whilst Bernard stuck by countryman Richarlison’s side for most of training.

Mina, as reported by the Daily Mail, is expected to train later this week.

Usmanov investment

Alisher Usmanov has admitted he could invest in Everton if the deal is right. The Russian billionaire has recently agreed to the sale of his stake in Arsenal to Stan Kroenke.

His company already sponsors Everton’s Finch Farm training complex and he is very close with Everton’s major shareholder Farhad Moshiri.

Speaking to Bloomberg, he admitted he was open to investing in another club, including Everton, if there is a chance of good potential return on his investment.

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