Joe Willock applies finishing touch as Newcastle add to Chelsea woes | Premier League

Graham Potter may have benefited from a recent “Glow Up” but his players seem to be experiencing a bit of a messy makeover. Given Chelsea have failed to win any of their last five Premier League games, it has proved somewhat less successful than their manager’s new hair style, as, thanks to Joe Willock’s sumptuously curling winner, Eddie Howe’s renascent Newcastle registered a sixth straight victory.

“I rate Joe very, very highly,” said “an immensely proud” Howe at the end of an evening in which the midfielder thoroughly upstaged England’s Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher. “Joe’s continuing to improve but he’s very important to us.”

Willock and co go into the World Cup break third in the top tier with the domestic season’s impending six-week hiatus apparently the only thing that can apply a brake to the extraordinary momentum which promises to sweep them into next season’s Champions League.

Chelsea’s growing fears of missing out on Europe was reflected by their body language at the final whistle when Kai Havertz briefly found himself at the centre of a finger pointing melee. Although it began with Havertz squaring up to Newcastle’s Dan Burn the conclusion seemed to be more about his Chelsea teammates losing their cool and arguing with each other. Tellingly such recriminations continued as they headed down the tunnel and Howe’s players began a mini lap of honour.

“It doesn’t get any easier, we’re in a bad place; we need to go away and regroup,” said Potter whose side suffered a third straight defeat for the first time since José Mourinho’s troubled tenure in 2015 and now sit eighth, eight points behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

“It’s not nice to get bad results. But sometimes you have to accept your struggles. There’s been a lot of learning in the last eight weeks. The first half was relatively even but Newcastle are a very good side. Defensively they’re one of the best teams in the Premier League; they don’t make it easy for you. But we made too many unforced errors.”

He blamed tiredness. “You could see the difference in the schedules; we looked fatigued but our schedule’s demanding,” Potter continued. “Newcastle have one game a week. It showed. We’re just hoping the guys going to the World Cup come back in a good place and we can re-focus.”

Joe Willock celebrates his goal with teammates.
Joe Willock celebrates his goal with teammates. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Chelsea had flown north without Raheem Sterling. The forward has been suffering from migraines but is still expected to join up with Gareth Southgate’s Qatar-bound World Cup squad. Newcastle’s key striker, Callum Wilson, is also Doha bound but he spent most of the evening on the bench after recovering from a virus and watched Chelsea almost imperceptibly lose control of a first half in which they barely created a single chance and Willock won his central midfield duel with England’s Gallagher.

Unlike certain other colleagues the latter was at least industry personified. It was not Gallagher’s fault he struggled at right wing-back in the second period after being relocated to an unfamiliar role following Potter’s attempt to recalibrate his formation.

Gallagher created Chelsea’s sole real moment of menace when he cut inside and stretched Nick Pope to the limit with a curling shot the England goalkeeper proved brilliantly equal to. Howe identified it as a key turning point, stressing that Pope has contributed a great deal to Newcastle’s four clean sheets in the past six League games.

With Bruno Guimarães’s style slightly cramped by Potter’s decision to man mark Howe’s Brazil midfielder, Newcastle’s high possession quotient did not translate into multiple chances.

Even so, Édouard Mendy denied Chris Wood at point-blank range after Joelinton flicked Kieran Trippier’s cross on, while Miguel Almirón conjured an excellent chance Sean Longstaff could only lift over the bar.

Undeterred Almirón controlled a bouncing ball before dribbling across the area and, just when he seemed set to shoot himself, overran it and laid off to Willock instead. As the midfielder sent a first-time shot curving beyond Mendy, any remaining radiance drained from Potter’s face.

Premier League team news: predicted lineups for the weekend action | Manchester City

Bournemouth v Everton

Saturday 3pm Venue Vitality Stadium Last season n/a

Referee Craig Pawson This season G7 Y31 R0 4.43 cards/game

Odds H 19-10 A 7-4 D 9-4

Bournemouth v Everton


Subs from Dennis,Christie, Marcondes, Rothwell, Stacey, Lowe, Stanislas, Zemura, Dembélé, Pearson, Hill, Anthony

Doubtful Zemura (knock)

Injured Brooks (thigh, 26 Dec), Kelly (ankle, 26 Dec), Neto (thigh, 26 Dec)

Suspended Mepham (one match)

Discipline Y22 R0


Leading scorer Billing 4


Subs from Begovic, Jakupovic, Lonergan, Patterson, Mina, Keane, Holgate, Vinagre, Doucouré, Garner, Davies, Rondón, McNeil, Welch, Mills, John, Cannon

Doubtful Holgate (knee)

Injured Calvert-Lewin (hamstring/knee, 26 Dec), Godfrey (broken leg, 26 Dec), Townsend (knee, 26 Dec)

Suspended None

Discipline Y33 R0


Leading scorer Gordon 3

Liverpool v Southampton

Saturday 3pm Venue Anfield Last season Liverpool 4 Southampton 0

Referee Simon Hooper This season G9 Y26 R0 2.88 cards/game

Odds H 3-11 A 11-1 D 6-1

Liverpool v Southampton


Subs from Adrián, Kelleher, Davies, Ramsay, Matip, Tsimikas, Phillips, Milner, Jones, Elliott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Bajcetic, Carvalho, Gomez

Doubtful Matip (calf), Milner (concussion)

Injured Keïta (thigh, 26 Dec), Díaz (knee, 26 Dec), Jota (calf, Jan), Arthur (thigh, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y12 R1


Leading scorers Firmino, Salah 6


Subs from Caballero, McCarthy, Caleta-Car, A Armstrong, Mara, Djenepo, Edozie, Diallo, Walcott

Doubtful xnamex (xreasonx), xnamex (xreasonx)

Injured Walker-Peters (thigh, 26 Dec), Livramento (knee, Jan), Larios (groin, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y22 R0


Leading scorer Adams 3

Nottingham Forest v Crystal Palace

Saturday 3pm Venue City Ground Last season n/a

Referee John Brooks This season G6 Y24 R0 4 cards/game

Odds H 11-5 A 16-11 D 2-1

Nottingham Forest v Crystal Palace

Nottingham Forest

Subs from Hennessey, Smith, Soh, Williams, Colback, Awoniyi, Surridge, Cafú, Kouyaté, Dennis, McKenna, Badé, Boly, Taylor

Doubtful Kouyaté (knock), McKenna (knock)

Injured Richards (calf, 26 Dec), Toffolo (thigh, 26 Dec), Biancone (knee, unknown), Niakhaté (thigh, unknown)

Suspended Mangala (one match)

Discipline Y34 R0


Leading scorer Awoniyi 3

Crystal Palace

Subs from Butland, Johnstone, Whitworth, Milivojevic, Tomkins, Mateta, Clyne, Hughes, Édouard, Ebiowei, Ferguson, Balmer, Riedewald, Gordon, Wells-Morrison, Phillips, Goodman, Rodney

Doubtful Édouard (thigh)

Injured McArthur (groin, unknown), Richards (thigh, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y29 R0


Leading scorer Zaha 6

Tottenham v Leeds

Saturday 3pm Venue Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Last season Tottenham 2 Leeds 1

Referee Michael Salisbury This season G6 Y31 R0 5.16 cards/game

Odds H 11-17 A 43-10 D 17-5

Tottenham v Leeds


Subs from Forster, Austin, Doherty, Spence, Sánchez, Tanganga, Bissouma, Skipp, Sarr, Lucas Moura, Gil

Doubtful Lucas Moura (tendon)

Injured Romero (calf, 14 Nov), Sessegnon (knock, 14 Nov), Son (eye, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y25 R1


Leading scorer Kane 11


Subs from Klaesson, Robles, Ayling, Llorente, Firpo, Hjelde, Gelhardt, Greenwood, Harrison, Gyabi, Drameh

Doubtful Gelhardt (knock), Harrison (knock)

Injured Bamford (hip, 26 Dec), Forshaw (knee, 26 Dec), Gray (ankle, 26 Dec), Klich (knee, 26 Dec), Sinisterra (ankle, 26 Dec), Dallas (broken leg, Jan)

Suspended None

Discipline Y25 R1


Leading scorer Rodrigo 7

West Ham v Leicester

Saturday 3pm Venue London Stadium Last season West Ham 4 Leicester 1

Referee Jarred Gillett This season G6 Y24 R0 4 cards/game

Odds H Evs A 11-4 D 5-2

West Ham v Leicester

West Ham

Subs from Areola, Randolph, Johnson, Coufal, Fornals, Antonio, Lanzini, Downes, Ogbonna, Aguerd, Coventry, Ashby

Doubtful None

Injured Cornet (calf, unknown), Palmieri (knock, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y16 R0


Leading scorers Antonio, Benrahma, Bowen, Scamacca 2


Subs from Iversen, Smithies, Ward, Vardy, Albrighton, Iheanacho, Pérez, Amartey, Vestergaard, Mendy, Soumaré

Doubtful None

Injured Pereira (calf, Jan), Justin (achilles, May), Bertrand (knee, unknown), Soyuncu (hamstring, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y17 R0


Leading scorer Maddison 6

Newcastle v Chelsea

Saturday 5.30pm Sky Sports Premier League Venue St James’ Park Last season Newcastle 0 Chelsea 3

Referee Robert Jones This season G8 Y28 R1 3.63 cards/game

Odds H 7-5 A 2-1 D 28-11

Newcastle v Chelsea


Subs from Darlow, Gillespie, Karius, Lascelles, Targett, Manquillo, Lewis, Shelvey, Anderson, S Longstaff, Wood, Fraser, Murphy

Doubtful Darlow (ankle), Fraser (calf), Wilson (illness)

Injured Isak (thigh, 26 Dec), Ritchie (calf, 26 Dec), Krafth (knee, Aug), Dummett (calf, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y20 R0


Leading scorer Almirón 8


Subs from Bettinelli, Jorginho, Pulisic, Broja, Zakaria, Ziyech, Gallagher, Koulibaly, Soonsup-Bell, Hall

Doubtful Jorginho (ankle)

Injured Arrizabalaga (ankle, 26 Dec), Kanté (thigh, Feb), Chilwell (thigh, unknown), Chukwuemeka (thigh, unknown), Fofana (knee, unknown), James (knee, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y31 R2


Leading scorers Havertz, Sterling 3

Brighton v Aston Villa

Sunday 2pm Sky Sports Premier League Venue Amex Stadium Last season Brighton 0 Aston Villa 2

Referee Chris Kavanagh This season G4 Y16 R0 4 cards/game

Odds H 9-10 A 10-3 D 3-1

Brighton v Aston Villa


Subs from McGill, Steele, Lamptey, Colwill, Welbeck, Sarmiento, Enciso, Undav, Gilmour, Van Hecke, Veltman

Doubtful None

Injured Moder (knee, Feb)

Suspended None

Discipline Y17 R0


Leading scorer Trossard 7

Aston Villa

Subs from Olsen, Steer, McGinn, Sanson, Ings, Chambers, Augustinsson, Young, Nakamba, Bednarek, Guilbert, Archer, Kamara

Doubtful None

Injured Coutinho (thigh, unknown), Diego Carlos (calf, unknown)

Suspended None

Discipline Y30 R1


Leading scorers Bailey, Ings 3

Fulham v Manchester United

Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier League Venue Craven Cottage Last season n/a

Referee Paul Tierney This season G11 Y43 R2 4.09 cards/game

Odds H 3-1 A Evs D 3-1

Fulham v Manchester United


Subs from Rodak, Kurzawa, Adarabioyo, Duffy, Chalobah, James, Mbabu, Harris

Doubtful None

Injured Solomon (knee, Jan), Kebano (calf, unknown), Mitrovic (ankle, unknown)

Suspended Reed (one match), Tete (one match)

Discipline Y35 R1


Leading scorer Mitrovic 9

Manchester United

Subs from Dubravka, Heaton, Jones, Maguire, Ronaldo, Fred, Sancho, Pellistri, Van de Beek, Elanga, McTominay, Mengi, Shoretire, Garnacho

Doubtful Antony (match fitness), Ronaldo (illness), Sancho (illness)

Injured Varane (hamstring, 22 Nov), Tuanzebe (match fitness, unknown), Wan-Bissaka (match fitness, unknown), Williams (match fitness, unknown)

Suspended Dalot (one match)

Discipline Y36 R0


Leading scorer Rashford 4

Nick Pope is Newcastle’s saviour in shootout win over Crystal Palace | Carabao Cup

A year and a day since his installation as Newcastle’s manager, Eddie Howe endured a nailbiting cup tie culminating in a penalty shootout. Thanks to Nick Pope’s excellence it ended well.

The England goalkeeper’s saves from Luka Milivojevic, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Malcolm Ebiowei atoned for misses from Sven Botman and Bruno Guimarães to send the home side into the fourth round after a 90 minutes in which Marc Guéhi and the rest of Patrick Vieira’s back five relished frustrating their hosts.

“We got through a very difficult, tight game,” said Howe. “That’s the important thing. I don’t think it was a great performance but Nick Pope is a very commanding figure. He’s a great size and his saves were top-drawer.”

Howe had earlier been both amused and inspired to learn that Newcastle last won a trophy – the 1969 Fairs Cup – before humankind walked on the moon. Neil Armstrong’s pioneering steps were made in July that year, a month after Newcastle overcame Hungary’s Ujpest Dozsa 6-2 on aggregate.

The chances of something shiny and new finally being displayed alongside it in the St James’ Park trophy cabinet were enhanced on Wednesday when Newcastle’s Saudi Arabian-led owners revealed they have invested a further £70m in the club, to be divided between infrastructure improvements and player recruitment.

Howe evidently felt sufficient confidence in his squad to make eight changes to the side who won 4-1 at Southampton on Sunday. Callum Wilson, Newcastle’s first-choice centre-forward, did not even feature on the bench on the eve of an expected call-up to England’s World Cup squad.

Bruno Guimarães on the ball
Bruno Guimarães (centre) made an appearance two days after discovering he will be in Brazil’s World Cup squad. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty Images

With Chelsea due on Tyneside for a Premier League match on Saturday, Wilson’s in-form fellow forward, Miguel Almirón, began on the bench and attracted loud cheers as he took a light jog down the touchline. Howe’s largely second-string XI were starting slowly and looking a little uncertain defensively, with Pope required to make an excellent save to keep a low, left footed shot from Mateta out.

Although Vieira had also heavily reshuffled his team, with Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze not even featuring on the bench, Palace shaded a low-key first half during which a record League Cup attendance at St James’ Park of 51,660 could have done with a bit more entertainment.

James Tomkins and Chris Wood combined to very nearly offer them some at the outset of the second half but, although Wilson’s deputy intercepted the Palace defender’s ill-advised back-pass, Sam Johnstone reacted smartly to save Wood’s ensuing shot. Almost immediately, Palace responded. A rapidly counterattacking Jordan Ayew left a trail of home markers in his wake only for the striker’s eventual shot to fly just over the bar.

Allan Saint-Maximin frequently frustrated Vieira when he played for him at Nice and the Newcastle winger, recently recovered from injury, threatened to further annoy his old manager as his fancy footwork conjured a fine chance ultimately headed into the ground by Dan Burn.

Quick Guide

Carabao Cup roundup


Angelo Ogbonna missed the crucial penalty as a youthful Blackburn dumped West Ham out of the Carabao Cup 10-9 on spot-kicks. After 19 successful penalties Ogbonna’s effort crashed off the underside of the crossbar to send Championship side Rovers through to round four following a 2-2 draw at the London Stadium. 

It was a deserved win for a callow Rovers side with an average age of just 22 and a half as Jon Dahl Tomasson made 11 changes with more than one eye on Sunday’s Championship derby against promotion rivals Burnley. They led through an early goal from Jack Vale before Pablo Fornals hauled West Ham level and Michail Antonio put the hosts in front. 

But the substitute Ben Brereton Díaz, Rovers’ top scorer, sent the match to a shootout and Italian defender Ogbonna was the fall guy. The result means that all six top-flight London clubs have gone out in the fourth round, with third-tier Charlton the only team from the capital in Thursday’s fourth-round draw.

Boubacar Traoré’s late winner sent Wolves through, the substitute striking with five minutes left to down much-changed Leeds and seal a 1-0 victory for the hosts. It settled an uneventful game which looked to be heading to penalties and gave the incoming Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui and his coaches food for thought.  

Lopetegui is due at the club’s Compton training base on Friday, before watching Saturday’s visit of Arsenal, before officially taking charge on Monday. The former Spain manager’s lieutenants were at Molineux having already briefly introduced themselves to the squad. PA Media

Photograph: Rob Newell/CameraSport

Thank you for your feedback.

Howe had seen enough and ordered his Brazil midfielder and local cult hero Guimarães to prepare to come on alongside Kieran Trippier and Botman in a triple substitution.

Once Guimarães had seized control of midfield, Almirón was also sent on. His arrival coincided with Palace starting to indulge in a little time-wasting, which ultimately succeeded in forcing penalties.

The scene was set for Pope’s heroics, and Jordan Pickford’s England international deputy rose to the challenge, in the process offering Gareth Southgate a timely reminder that he is a shootout specialist.

“It was a tough one,” said Vieira. “But we just have to battle on.”

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action | Football

1) Saka should take heavy tackles as a compliment

Officially, Bukayo Saka is the 33rd most fouled player in the Premier League. Unofficially, Arsenal fans will tell you that their man is the victim of some sinister conspiracy between opposition left-backs and referees to get him hacked out of the game. So, a valid concern or the usual tribal tinfoil nonsense? It’s actually more complex than it looks. What sets Saka apart is his unique close dribbling style, the ball almost wedged between his feet as he runs. So when he buys the contact – because all wingers buy contact – the tackle often takes ball and man together, making it hard to see which impact came first. Simply put, referees need to do better here. But it also needs a recognition from Arsenal fans that Saka isn’t being deliberately victimised or singled out: he’s just really, unusually good. Jonathan Liew

2) Can Emery nurture Villa’s stars-in-waiting?

It feels a long time ago now but Unai Emery gave Arsenal debuts to Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. It is a slice of history that would appear to bode well for Aston Villa, whose academy graduateJacob Ramsey completed the scoring in victory over Manchester United on Sunday. Ramsey replaced Ashley Young in Villa’s only change and he repaid Emery’s faith with a vibrant midfield display, smartly combining with Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Buendía and Leon Bailey, and the way the 21-year-old, who joined Villa aged six, has started under Emery suggests he will be in the thick of things. Emery referenced Villa’s academy at his unveiling last week and in the Spaniard the club believe they have one of the the best coaches in the world to nurture talent. Ben Fisher

3) Núñez looks ill-suited to wide role

It’s fair to say that Darwin Núñez is not the world’s most silky-smooth footballer, and indeed his doomed, ungainly scurries down the left provided Spurs fans with some rare levity in the first half. If the target man’s bungled dribbles raised the question of what he was doing out on the wing, then perhaps Mohamed Salah’s two goals – dispatched after stealing into central positions – provided the answer: an attack spearheaded by Roberto Firmino gives Liverpool’s best finisher licence to drift infield. Not that this will be much consolation to Núñez, who remains the jigsaw piece that doesn’t fit. The lineage of Liverpool players signed as thrilling goalscorers only to labour painfully out wide is a long one that stretches from Heskey to Aspas via Diouf, Cissé and Babel. If the Uruguayan is to avoid joining that list, his manager must find an effective way of playing him centrally. Whether such a solution exists, on current evidence, is far from certain. Alex Hess

Darwin Núñez in possession
Darwin Núñez played on the left against Tottenham. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

4) Howe’s first year has been a revelation

While it seems increasingly unlikely Ralph Hasenhüttl will make it as far as a fourth anniversary at Southampton, the man opposite him in the dugout at St Mary’s celebrates 12 months with Newcastle job this week. The turnaround in that time has been remarkable, from a relegation battle to genuine top-four contenders. Their win on the south coast was Eddie Howe’s 20th in 41 league matches – and 19 have come in the last 32 games. For all the inevitable talk of Saudi riches, Howe has also coached a set of individuals into a fine collective: 13 of his latest match-day squad predated his arrival. When one press member made a comparison with Leicester’s 2016 title winners, Howe smiled. “I remember that Leicester team very well. But I just think we are trying to be ourselves.” Sam Dalling

5) Gnonto changes the game for Leeds

Wilfried Gnonto. Remember the name because Jesse Marsch’s 19-year-old Italy forward is very good indeed. It is no exaggeration to say that Gnonto altered the entire topography of a game Bournemouth had been in control of after he came off the bench at half-time. No matter that Leeds swiftly fell 3-1 behind, Gnonto – along with his fellow substitute Sam Greenwood and Marsch’s inspired switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 – recalibrated the power balance. After goals by Greenwood and Liam Cooper levelled the score, Gnonto created Crysencio Summerville’s second winning goal in two games with a wonderful run and beautifully weighted through pass. “Wilfried’s a very intelligent young man,” said Marsch. “Wherever you play him you see his savviness and clarity of thought. He speaks multiple languages, understands tactics and has quality. He’s making a big case for more minutes.” Louise Taylor

6) Guardiola’s recipe for City success

Manchester City refused to accept anything less than a win despite João Cancelo’s first-half red card. Pep Guardiola was asked if his team take an elixir to feed their addiction to victory. “A magic potion like Asterix and Obelix?” he said. “No but I see Fulham, they do good things and I made warnings to the players, they trained incredibly well, I saw how focused they were, so I went to sleep confident.” Kevin De Bruyne was again in fine form, claiming the 95th-minute penalty that Erling Haaland dispatched. His manager’s contract expires in the summer and the Belgian seemed no more informed than anyone else about how the situation might play out. “After seven years maybe it is more calm for him. To be honest I don’t know [about his future], I don’t think you’ll get too much out of him. And that is fine.” Jamie Jackson

7) Lallana looks a natural leader for Brighton

Roberto De Zerbi says he needs clever footballers who fully understand his complex tactics and style. One player who is helping his teammates is Adam Lallana. The 34-year-old was briefly part of the coaching staff between Graham Potter’s exit to Chelsea and De Zerbi’s arrival, offering an indication of his future plans. “Lallana is a teacher on the pitch,” De Zerbi said after defeating Wolves 3-2. “I think he will become a very good coach. I hope not now because I want him on the pitch but he is very intelligent, very smart.” While working with the squad, his “enthusiasm, commitment and professionalism” impressed the chief executive, Paul Barber. On the pitch, he looks perfect operating behind Leandro Trossard and excels with the one-touch play in and around the area. He has a few years left in his legs but when the time comes to hang up the boots, he will have options. Will Unwin

In the second half came one of those moments common to these pre-World Cup times. Lucas Paquetá screamed out after a tackle from Jordan Ayew, rolling over several times. Was his Qatar dream dead? The Brazilian, his ankle checked over, continued and played out the 90 minutes. “If anybody was maybe going to create or craft us a goal late in the game it was probably going to be Lucas,” said David Moyes, putting the anguish down to cramp. The Hammers are yet to see the best of a player counted among Brazil manager Tite’s chosen ones, suggesting the problems of recruiting in this interrupted season. Paquetá did not look much interested in physical battles with Crystal Palace and is back in the team after a shoulder problem. Moyes, like so many other Premier League managers, is forced to rely on players whose focus is drifting – a suboptimal situation. John Brewin

Lucas Paqueta in action against Crystal Palace
Lucas Paqueta is yet to peak at West Ham. Photograph: Tom Dulat/Getty Images

9) Foxes find form at both ends of field

“How are you lot behind us?” asked one incredulous Evertonian of a Leicester City video analyst sat in the Goodison Park press box on Saturday night. It was a reasonable query on the final whistle, given the superiority of Brendan Rodgers’ team in every department over their error-strewn hosts, although Leicester are now above Everton on goal difference and heading in a different direction. Creatively, the contributions of James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Youri Tielemans and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall eclipsed anything Everton had to offer. And their defence made Frank Lampard’s team appear impotent, particularly after Dominic Calvert-Lewin departed with another injury. Leicester conceded 22 goals in the first seven Premier League games of the season; they have conceded three in the last seven. “The summer was tough for us,” said Rodgers, who reserved special praise for his only outfield summer signing. “But I always said that with patience and hard work on the training field we could get back to our level. It’s great to see them playing with joy and quality and you can see the difference that Wout Faes is making.” Andy Hunter

10) The joy of a good goalmouth scramble

Amid the glitz and glamour of the Premier League – a division of otherworldly finesse and scarcely believable skill – there’s nothing like a horribly messy goalmouth scramble to remind us that we’re all human after all. Nottingham Forest’s 96th-minute equaliser against Brentford had a bit of everything: a desperate flap from David Raya, several seconds of human pinball, a helpless last touch from Mathias Jørgensen and, finally, a heroic clearance from Ben Mee – only for goalline technology to intervene and leave him with his head buried in the turf. Thomas Frank’s side have played some excellent football this season, but they have also been highly inconsistent. Without a victory in four, they are now on their longest winless run of the campaign and face an unenviable trip to Manchester City before the World Cup. They have not tasted victory away from home in the league all season; going on their wildly unpredictable form, they’ll probably win 3-0. Will Magee

Ronnie Radford obituary | Football

Few players from the lower reaches of English football ever make it into the national consciousness, let alone stay there for decades. Yet Ronnie Radford, who never played at any level higher than the old Fourth Division, did just that. Radford, who has died aged 79, earned his enduring fame on a muddy pitch at non-league Hereford United in February 1972 during a televised third round FA Cup replay match against First Division Newcastle.

The tie seemed to be all over when the visitors went 1-0 up with 10 minutes to play. But shortly afterwards Radford won a sturdy tackle just inside the opposition half, played a long-range one-two with the winger Brian Owen and then unleashed a wondrous shot from 30 yards that rocketed into the top corner of the Newcastle goal. As Radford arced across the sodden surface with arms aloft, hundreds of youthful Hereford pitch invaders engulfed him in a scene of such delirious ecstasy that it has become as much a part of the folklore of the FA Cup as the white horse at Wembley or long-haired Charlie George lying on his back after scoring the winner in the 1971 final.

Radford’s glorious strike allowed Hereford to essay one of the greatest ever cup giant-killing feats with a 2-1 win that was sealed by a goal from Ricky George in extra time. Highlights of the drama were relayed to millions on Match of the Day, with suitably excitable commentary from a young John Motson. Radford’s goal has since been replayed hundreds of thousands of times by misty-eyed admirers.

The player himself, a journeyman who spent most of his career in part-time non-league football while working as a joiner, was among those playback enthusiasts who could relive the moment endlessly without becoming bored. But he was typically modest about what has often been described as the best ever goal in the FA Cup. “At the time I didn’t even think about the distance to the goal,” he recalled. “I just thought: ‘I’ve got to hit this.’ It could have gone in the car park, but it didn’t.”

Ronnie Radford, top left, celebrating with Hereford United teammates in February 1972 after their win against Newcastle United.
Ronnie Radford, top left, celebrating with Hereford United teammates in February 1972 after their win against Newcastle United. Photograph: PA Photos/PA

Radford was born in South Elmsall, a small coal mining town in Yorkshire. He played at school as a midfielder, a position he occupied for most of his career, although he also appeared at full back. Signed up by First Division Sheffield Wednesday in 1961 as a teenager, he was moved on in the same year to Second Division Leeds, where he trained under their player-manager Don Revie.

Having failed to make the first team either at Leeds or Wednesday, in 1962 he was signed up by non-league Cheltenham, where he had a happy time for the next three years on a weekly wage of £12 that was supplemented by joinery work. There was a short interlude with Rugby Town in 1965, but he soon returned to Cheltenham, spending another three seasons there and clocking up 318 appearances until Fourth Division Newport County signed him for £1,500, giving him his first experience of higher-level football.

“It was quicker in the Football League, but my fitness levels improved with full-time training and it was a good experience,” he said later. However, Radford was still living in Cheltenham with his wife Annie, found the travelling to Wales onerous, and also missed his work as a joiner, which he regarded as his main activity.

After two seasons at Newport, during which he appeared 68 times, he plumped in 1961 for a transfer back to part-time Hereford, allowing him to be nearer home and to pick up with his joinery again. “I left Newport because of the travelling really, and I was earning less in full-time football than I was playing part-time and working,” he said.

Although he could never have imagined it, the switch to Hereford also quickly thrust Radford into the spotlight. He was barely into his sojourn there when the club went on a terrific FA Cup run, progressing all the way from the qualifying rounds to within theoretical breathing distance of the final at Wembley. Although the momentous win against Newcastle came as a result of a fine team performance, inevitably Radford’s extraordinary goal – and the heartwarming scenes that followed it – stole the limelight.

After the end of his football career, Ronnie Radford worked full-time as a joiner.
After the end of his football career, Ronnie Radford worked full-time as a joiner. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

At the time he had never seen himself on the small screen. “After the match, me and Annie stopped off for fish and chips and ate it in front of Match of the Day,” he said. “We thought it was going to be two minutes of highlights but they made it into the main game. I’d never watched myself play football, I didn’t even know what it looked like when I ran. It was such a strange experience.”

Although he was flattered to be the centre of attention, Radford was also discomfited by being the focus of so much media activity. “I was only one part of it, one kick. There were 14 other guys who shared all those experiences with the people of Hereford. I just felt so uncomfortable about being singled out.”

After the win against Newcastle, Hereford lost in the fourth round of the cup to West Ham, but were subsequently promoted to the football league. Radford stayed at the club until 1974, after which he had a short spell as player-manager at Worcester City and then played for Bath City, where an achilles tendon injury ended his career at the age of 33.

A finish to serious football prompted a return to his native Yorkshire, where he settled in Wakefield with Annie and their two children, Gary and David. Taking up joinery full-tme, he remained there for the rest of his life.

Each year, as a reminder of his enduring place in public folk memory, Radford was invited to the FA Cup final to present an award to the team that had pulled off the most inspiring giant-killing act in that year’s competition.

He is survived by Annie and their sons.

Ronald Radford, footballer, born 12 July 1943; died 2 November 2022

Callum Wilson’s double fires Newcastle to impressive rout of Aston Villa | Premier League

As auditions go it was extremely convincing and certainly must have given Gareth Southgate something to ponder on his drive home to North Yorkshire.

In scoring two goals, creating another and hitting the crossbar Callum Wilson not only made a compelling case for inclusion in England’s World Cup squad but reinforced Newcastle’s top-four credentials.

“Callum’s an outstanding striker,” said his manager, Eddie Howe. “And that was an outstanding performance. Callum was at the heart of a lot of what we did best.”

This ruthless dissection of Aston Villa – a deconstruction also witnessed by the Brazil coach, Tite, who must have been impressed with the uncapped Joelinton as well as Bruno Guimarães – earned Newcastle a fifth win in six Premier League games, leaving them fourth in the table.

Small wonder the home fans who unfurled a banner declaring “This City is Believing Again” before kick off are grateful to the incoming Aston Villa manager, Unai Emery, for turning down the St James’ Park posting last November and allowing Howe to prove how very good he is.

On this evidence Emery has much to get his teeth stuck into when he collects his work permit and clocks in at Villa Park on Tuesday, even if a team once again under the caretaker charge of Aaron Danks could have opened the scoring.

The moment when Dan Burn, a centre-half excelling at left-back, made a brilliant tackle to deny Emiliano Buendía a near-certain goal from close range will surely have caught Southgate’s eye during a stop-start and rain-soaked opening half, during which Villa used almost every time-wasting trick in the book.

In mitigation the 10 minutes of added time were largely accrued after a head injury suffered by Villa’s goalkeeper, Emiliano Martínez, when he collided with his teammate Tyrone Mings.

After prolonged treatment Villa’s captain was cleared to continue only to be helped off, walking very slowly and looking distinctly groggy, after collecting a cross and collapsing to the ground unchallenged 12 minutes later. Surely Martínez should have been taken off immediately after the initial incident? So much for the game’s supposed concussion protocols.

“Emi’s fine, he’s walking and talking but we’re going to need to take care of him,” said Danks. “He took a blow to the head but our very professional medical staff assessed him and initially said he was OK but then something obviously changed.”

Robin Olsen, Martínez’s replacement, was subsequently powerless to stop Wilson’s supremely assured penalty after Ashley Young handled a shot from the gloriously renascent Miguel Almirón.

Miguel Almirón curls home Newcastle’s fourth goal against Aston Villa
Miguel Almirón curls home Newcastle’s fourth goal against Aston Villa to continue his excellent run of form. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

It was Wilson’s fifth goal in nine games this season and seemed a particularly timely one for a striker who used a recent television interview to drop Southgate a heavy hint that he should be on England’s flight to Doha next month.

By way of emphasising the point Wilson deposited the ball in the back of the net for a second time, shooting from a tight angle after rounding Olsen, but he was frustrated by a late, albeit correct, offside flag. No matter: Wilson was playing intelligently, holding the ball up adroitly, linking play and stretching Villa’s backline. Does Harry Kane really have a better understudy?

He doubled Newcastle’s advantage early in the second period, heading beyond Olsen in the wake of a cross from Kieran Trippier after a clever short-corner routine culminating with Almirón’s audacious back-heel flick. “The game just ran away from us,” Danks said.

Olsen prevented Wilson from completing a hat-trick after a Newcastle counterattack but the rebound fell to Joelinton, who delighted in sliding the third goal home.

Almirón then added his sixth goal in six games, taking a couple of touches before curling home a wonderful left-footed shot.

“I’m running out of words to describe Miggy’s goals,” said Howe. “They’re all so good.”

The same could be said of his players on a day when the Gallowgate End sang “We’re going to win the league” and a smiling Southgate stayed until the very end.

Eddie Howe says Newcastle ‘can achieve special things’ after win over Spurs | Premier League

Newcastle climbed into the Premier League top four after winning 2-1 at Tottenham with their manager, Eddie Howe, declaring “we can achieve special things with this group”.

First-half goals from Callum Wilson and Miguel Almirón were enough to beat third-placed Spurs, who failed to mount a second-half comeback after Harry Kane’s 54th‑minute goal.

“Hopefully this gives us the confidence to know we can go anywhere,” Howe said. “Physically, technically, tactically we performed at a very high level. I think we can beat anyone if we play like that.”

Having drawn with Manchester City and Manchester United, and lost against Liverpool in August, their only defeat so far, this was Newcastle’s first win against a “Big Six” club this season. They will enter the World Cup break next month in contention for Champions League qualification.

“It was a really good performance today, probably the best performance since I’ve been here,” said Howe, who succeeded Steve Bruce last November. “I thought we were really brave both in and out of possession.”

Bruno Guimarães starred in midfield despite two sleepless nights after becoming a new father this week. Howe said of the Brazilian: “He was outstanding today. He’s given his heart and soul to the club and he’s an outstanding player.”

Howe was keen to point out that Newcastle’s two goals were scored by players signed before the club’s Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund‑resourced takeover 12 months ago. “A lot of them were here anyway. Credit the players for the performance, don’t look at how the team was put together.”

Tottenham’s defeat followed their midweek loss at Manchester United to loosen their own grip on a top‑four place and their manager, Antonio Conte, blamed a heavy schedule overworking his thin squad.

“We have to try to keep the fingers crossed and don’t have injuries because we are not a team with such a depth of squad to face competitions like the Premier League and Champions League, but this is not something against the club,” the Italian said. “We need to go step by step and have time and patience and have two or three transfer markets to bring this squad to be competitive to play in two competitions like Premier League and Champions League.”

A hot-tempered game threatened to boil over after Wilson’s opening goal was scored following a collision with Spurs’ goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, and allowed to stand by VAR. Howe said: “If that’s two outfield players I don’t think the free-kick is given.”

Manchester United hold off Newcastle in high-tempo but goalless draw | Premier League

Breathless and invigorating and a touch scrappy: contested in bright autumnal sunshine, this was the tale of a goalless draw that Manchester United and Newcastle each felt they might have won.

Erik ten Hag said his team wished to tell the story of the game but the visitors stymied his hopes and instead the fare resembled basketball in an end‑to‑end nature that largely bypassed measured midfield play.

In the closing moments Casemiro released Marcus Rashford who rounded Nick Pope but on passing to Fred the midfielder’s radar was awry: it was as fair a summation of the entertainment as Rashford somehow missing a point-blank header in added time.

A rueful Ten Hag said: “We broke them but didn’t kill them, by not scoring. We had the chances, Rashford. OK, that happens, football, happy with the performance but disappointed with the result.”

There were also several penalty appeals: Raphaël Varane on Callum Wilson early on; Kieran Trippier on Cristiano Ronaldo; Sean Longstaff on Jadon Sancho. Each manager offered a view.

“The Wilson shout was a strong one,” Newcastle’s Eddie Howe said.

Ten Hag was visibly chagrined throughout. “I shared that with them [the officials]. I don’t have a comment on the ref’s performance,” he said of Craig Pawson. “Everyone has seen what happened today on the pitch.”

United’s start was sharp. Fred, from distance, was the first to pull the trigger though his aim was askew. Lisandro Martínez stabbed the ball away from Miguel Almirón and the Reds roved forward and Ronaldo, in for an under-the-weather Rashford, troubled Fabian Schär. Martínez illustrated further verve when covering off a Wilson thrust, the latter thwarted by David de Gea, making a 500th United appearance.

Newcastle soon counter-punched. Luke Shaw had to repel Trippier in a passage that led to Joelinton’s corner from the left. Wilson, earlier, appealed in vain for the penalty referenced by Howe when Varane bumped him but Pawson and the VAR were not interested.

Kieran Trippier has his shot blocked by Luke Shaw
Kieran Trippier has his shot blocked by Luke Shaw. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

The contest’s rhythm was jab-jab, thrust-thrust; one moment Fred sprinted on to a ball along the left, the next Trippier’s corner was headed by an unmarked Schär, United’s dead‑ball defending loose. Antony, on three league goals, made a familiar cut inside and blasted over. This followed a smart no-look pass from Casemiro that splayed Newcastle.

There was an invigorating muscularity on show: Antony crashed into Sven Botman, Joelinton and Casemiro bounced off each other. The latter tussle was ruled a Newcastle free-kick – Trippier smashed this into the wall, turned the ball back in, and Joelinton hit De Gea’s bar and right post and Diogo Dalot conceded another corner. Again United were second to Trippier’s delivery, Wilson’s header careering across goal.

The half was an incident-fest. Ten Hag upbraided David Coote for some on-field misdemeanour the fourth official might affect, Wilson yanked Martínez’s hand and received a Pawson lecture and, the referee moments later blew for treatment to a downed Joelinton. Next, an errant Casemiro pass presaged Almirón making a mug of Fred, in for the ill Christian Eriksen. Trippier, cleverly, drove the dead‑ball shin‑high and United somehow remained intact. Shots from Antony and Bruno Fernandes, who also headed at Pope, failed to find the elusive Newcastle net.

Each team missed ruthlessness and Ronaldo, oddly for the arch‑predator, was often offside or caught away from the frontline where he had the best chance of adding career club goal No 701. There was more off-target shooting from Wilson to commence the second period and when the Portuguese was in position and beat Pope the strike was offside. At the free-kick given for that Ronaldo, believing Schär had touched it back to Pope, pilfered possession and scored. Pawson booked him, deciding the ball was merely given to the goalkeeper so he could take the set piece.

Both sides were unwilling – or unable – to slow the tempo and move the opponent around in chess-like manner. So when Antony, Dalot, Fernandes, Fred and Shaw did this suddenly Newcastle had a different problem. The move fizzled out yet here was a clue regarding how Ten Hag’s men might prosper.

At the hour Manchester hogged possession with 61.6% but the old issue of being primarily a fast-breaking unit meant an ideas surfeit when most of Newcastle were ahead of them. A lack of composure was a fair characterisation of the post-interval fare. Howe had replaced Jacob Murphy with Ryan Fraser so might Ten Hag shuffle his pack? Yes: off came Ronaldo as Rashford entered.

The home team, though, remained a side in search of a final ball, as personified by Antony failing to pick out Sancho when he raced along the right. When Trippier did find Almirón with a low-driven corner the latter blazed over and, later, Rashford’s wild free‑kick was another case study in how not to aim true. A point each was correct.

Newcastle’s Joe Willock: ‘I’d like to give something back, like Marcus Rashford’ | Newcastle United

Joe Willock relishes spending free hours walking his dog along Northumberland’s seemingly endless miles of sandy beaches but, sometimes, the Newcastle midfielder’s mind transports him to a very different world. The Caribbean island of Montserrat lies more than 4,000 miles from England’s North Sea coast and a big part of Willock’s future is tied up in its volcanic landscape.

“My family have a lot of land out there and I want to build something in Montserrat to give opportunities to kids who don’t have the chance to come to Europe and play football,” said the 23-year-old. “It’s something very important to me; my family and I are already working on the plans.”

When, in 1995, the British overseas territory was devastated by a catastrophic eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano that destroyed its capital, Plymouth, huge swathes of the population fled. Most headed to the UK where Willock’s parents established a new life in London, settling in Walthamstow and building a successful clothing business, centred on a successful fashion store in Crouch End.

As Willock sits chatting on a smart black sofa at Newcastle’s suburban training ground, his left leg curled beneath him, he readily acknowledges he almost certainly would not be a key element of Eddie Howe’s high-flying team today had Charles and Sarah Willock not sacrificed that business in order to nurture their three sons’ footballing dreams.

With the eldest, Matty, joining Manchester United’s academy and Chris and Joe enrolling in Arsenal’s equivalent, their parents sold the shop and took jobs affording them sufficient free time to ferry the boys to training and matches. While Sarah became a cleaner, Charles joined Tesco; both became unenviably familiar with working night shifts.

“I can’t ever thank them enough,” says Willock who remains close to Chris, now a QPR winger and Matty, a Montserrat midfielder. “What they did was amazing. They were doing really well in the fashion industry, manufacturing and selling clothes and, to give that up for us, was incredible. They’ve sacrificed so much. Sometimes when I’ve felt down or not been at my best I’ve thought back to that moment where they gave up the shop and it’s helped push me on to the next level.”

Joe Willock is looking forward to shaking hands with Marcus Rashford.
Joe Willock is looking forward to shaking hands with Marcus Rashford. Photograph: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty

His parents’ example has also intensified Willock’s belief that it is imperative for leading footballers to “give something back”. This conviction explains why, much as he is desperate to help Newcastle win at Manchester United on Sunday, he looks forward to shaking hands with United’s Marcus Rashford at the final whistle.

“What Marcus Rashford’s done is amazing,” he says, referring to the England forward’s food poverty action campaign and forcing of the government into that famous U-turn over free school meals. “He’s taught us all about the importance of giving something back. I’d love to do something like that.”

A practising Christian, Willock thinks English football’s elite academy curriculum should educate young footballers about social problems and encourage the game’s protégés to contribute to society and charities. “The importance of giving something back should be a bigger part of academy education sessions,” he says. “I think more could be done to teach young footballers about it.”

Judging by his stellar form, Willock seems to have devoted this season to repaying Howe for the manager’s unstinting support during some tricky times earlier in the year when his initial difficulty in settling in the north-east resulted in acute homesickness and diminished on-field dynamism.

“I love being a Newcastle player and the people here are brilliant but it was difficult last season,” admits the technically assured and impressively athletic midfielder, signed for £25m by Steve Bruce in August 2021. “I’m very settled now but it was a big change. Walthamstow’s very busy and I was suddenly living on my own in a quiet place quite a way outside Newcastle. It was very hard; I struggled quite badly with being on my own a lot.”

Accordingly one of Howe’s priorities after succeeding Bruce last November was to help restore Willock to the person and player who, almost single handedly, saved the team from relegation in the spring of 2021. In scoring eight goals in 14 appearances during an extraordinarily successful loan from Arsenal he established himself as a Tyneside cult hero, but that subsequent solo move to rural Northumberland proved far too isolating and the time for candour had come.

“There’ve been a few things that have happened in my life since Eddie Howe came here but I’ve been able to confide in the gaffer and he’s helped me so much,” says Willock. “I’d never previously felt comfortable about confiding in a manager but it makes such a difference when you can talk on a personal level.

“Football-wise there’ve some things I’ve taken a bit of time to take on board but the gaffer’s been very patient. He’s someone I trust a lot; I never really had that before until I met him. He makes the game really simple and clear. It’s so good to really understand what you have to do on the pitch. I’m also the fittest I’ve been and it’s the same for a lot of the other players.”

Howe’s input apart, Willock’s adjustment to his new habitat has been accelerated by his parents’ decision to relocate, temporarily, to Northumberland and his acquisition of Teddy, a much adored cockapoo. “At the start of this season Mum and Dad decided to move in with me and I’m very grateful,” he says.

“I’ve also invested in getting a little dog, Teddy, as in Teddy Bear and we go to the beach a lot. Teddy’s had a lot of attention, so he’s very clingy but he’s a lovely dog. He’s my best friend.”

Fortunately the stream of vile, anonymous, “disgusting and hurtful” messages Willock received on social media last season has abated. “There’s still odd ones but different platforms are doing a lot to try and keep racism out now,” he says. “It needs to be eradicated.”

The Newcastle United midfielder impressed in the 5-1 Premier League win against Brentford.
The Newcastle United midfielder impressed in the 5-1 Premier League win against Brentford. Photograph: Richard Callis/MB Media/Getty Images

With last season’s anti-Covid, inadvertently anti-social, Premier League rules mercifully a thing of the past too, Howe’s quietly spoken, unfailingly polite, former England Under-21 international now enjoys socialising with teammates, most notably Jamaal Lascelles, Jamal Lewis and Allan Saint-Maximin. “They’re my closest friends but, as a team we all get on,” he says.

“Bonding’s a big thing the manager’s introduced. It’s very important to get to know teammates properly so, when we’ve been on trips to places like Austria, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, he’s put lots of activities, things like go-karting, on for us.”

January’s jaunt to Jeddah proved “a big turning point” in Newcastle’s renaissance but the Gulf Kingdom’s grisly human rights record means disquiet about the club’s majority Saudi Arabian ownership endures. “As players we’re just employees,” says Willock. “The politics aren’t my area but Eddie Howe’s a brilliant manager and a brilliant person and hopefully we’re now taking the football to the next level.

“The owners are putting big investment into this club in the right way and I’m just happy to be a small part of what has to come in the future. I feel there’s no limit on how far Newcastle United can go now.”

Eddie Howe backs Newcastle to match Manchester United as a global force | Newcastle United

Eddie Howe has insisted there is no reason why Newcastle cannot one day match Manchester United as a global force. Newcastle go into Sunday’s game at Old Trafford having just started the process of rebuilding under their new Saudi-backed owners, and Howe is convinced there is no limit to what can be achieved.

Asked whether Newcastle could ever be as big as Manchester United, the manager replied: “I don’t like to put ceilings on individual players and I don’t like to put ceilings on clubs either. Looking at my own history, Bournemouth were associated as a League One, League Two team, primarily League One, but we have seen them grow into a Premier League club, so why not?

“The aim of this club with the ambition behind the scenes – which is huge now – I have always said we have to now try and deliver those huge ambitions. But there is no ceiling here. When you see the passion around the city … the thing that always blows me away is the young people here, the 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds, their passion for Newcastle. It runs through generations and that won’t stop.

“What will happen hopefully is the global brand and the global enthusiasm for Newcastle will grow. The global support will definitely change through time if the club can be successful. I am putting more pressure on myself here, but that is the challenge and that is where the club wants to be. Who knows what the future will look like in 20 or 30 years.”

Newcastle’s 5-1 win over Brentford last Saturday included two goals from Bruno Guimarães, which Howe said had come as a bonus. “When we signed him, we didn’t think we were getting goals as part of his game, to be honest,” he said. “His goal record wasn’t something we looked at and thought: ‘We’ll change that and add goals to his game.’ It has just happened organically and naturally because he is a very, very good player. Hopefully there are more in him.”