Football News

“The best midfield player on the pitch by a mile” – Newcastle 2-0 Man Utd player ratings

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:00, 2 April 2023

Newcastle United gained a semblance of revenge over Manchester United and in the process maintained their longheld wait to play Champions League football again.

Eddie Howe’s men ran out deserved 2-0 winners. They restricted the Red Devils to six attempts on goal with just one reaching its target. Consequently, the Magpies leapfrogged their fallen adversary into third in the Premier League table, albeit on goal difference.

This was their first meeting since Man Utd took home the EFL Cup a few weeks ago. Here’s how the players rated at St. James’ Park:

Newcastle

Nick Pope – 6 – He wasn’t tested. A lot of the credit goes to Howe’s tactics and Newcastle’s well-drilled defence.

Dan Burn – 7 – The tallest left-back in Premier League history gave another good account of himself today.

Sven Botman – 7.5 – Nothing too fancy from the Dutch centre-back who complemented Schär well. He successfully won four aerial duels which proved to be more than anyone on the field.

Fabian Schär – 7 – Nearly registered a goal-of-the-season contender when his 35-yard effort flew past De Gea’s near post.

Kieran Trippier – 8 – Regularly involved (with a game-high 53 touches) the Man City academy graduate was seldom on the back foot and instead operated like an extra winger for Eddie Howe’s side. Produced an excellent set-piece delivery for Wilson’s late goal to double Newcastle’s lead. He’s now assisted five goals at set play situations this season in the Premier League, the most of any player.

Joe Willock – 9 – Should have put Newcastle ahead. His 16th-minute effort, kept out by De Gea, has been ranked as 0.81xG. To put that in some perspective… A penalty’s xG is 0.8, so Willock’s effort was just easier to score than a spot kick.

Wasted another big chance five minutes before the break. “Do not lean back! There are a couple of Newcastle bodies on the floor, they cannot believe he has put it over,” Gary Neville exclaimed on Sky Sports commentary. 

The third time was the charm as Willock’s close-range header broke the deadlock. He couldn’t miss and Newcastle deserved it.

Bruno Guimarães – 8 – Taking up an average position on the halfway line Guimarães effortlessly dictated the game’s tempo. He also completed all three of his dribbles, more than any other player for either side. Also played a pivotal role in Newcastle’s go-ahead goal. “The best midfield player on the pitch by a mile. He has been the star,” Neville reasoned after naming him player-of-the-match.

Sean Longstaff – 7 – The languid midfielder won five fouls in this game, more than any other player on either team.

Allan Saint-Maximin – 9.5 – As expected caused Dalot all sorts of bother. At the heart of everything positive Newcastle were doing from an attacking perspective the French winger produced seven chances — including the assist for Willock’s goal (his last contribution before going off) — more than anyone who played in today’s game. 

Alexander Isak – 8 – An unfortunate hamstring injury robbed the one-time Borussia Dortmund marksman of valuable playing time in his new surroundings (eleven Premier League games to be precise). Since returning Isak had been living up to his promise and this meeting with Man Utd offered him the chance to showcase that progression in front of a wider international audience. If anything his build-up play shone the greatest today.

Jacob Murphy – 7 – Created three chances. The much-travelled forward was unlucky none of the efforts which he produced for those around him was rewarded with a goal.

Substitutes:

Joelinton (for Saint-Maximin 68) – 5 – Had a shot blocked in the 85th minute.

Anthony Gordon (for Murphy 68) – 5.5 – Had one moment of brilliance when he sidestepped Fernandes but couldn’t set in motion a Newcastle goal.

Callum Wilson (for Isak 80) – 7 – Did what Isak couldn’t and that was getting on the scoresheet.

Elliot Anderson (for Willock) – N/A – A late sub.

Man Utd

David de Gea – 6 – Began the game nervously before producing a stellar double save. That proved to be his sole highlight in a game Man Utd was thoroughly second best.

Luke Shaw – 5 – A lot of Newcastle’s good work came down their right flank consequently it put the usually marauding Shaw in conservative mode. He’s enjoyed better days.

Lisandro Martínez – 5.5 – Wasnt happy after coming off in the final 10 minutes. And you couldn’t blame him after registering four tackles, three clearances and two interceptions.

Raphaël Varane – 5 – An unusually off day for the one-time World Cup winner.

Diogo Dalot – 4 – Would not have started if Aaron Wan-Bissaka was feeling well. It meant he was tasked with keeping the usually electric Allan Saint-Maximin who caused him all sorts of problems in the EFL Cup final back in February – so much so that he was taken off at half-time in the Wembley showdown. Wan-Bissaka’s misfortune offered Dalot a chance for some redemption. Instead, the Portuguese full-back was often at sea, and there was no indication he could keep a winger of Saint-Maximin’s quality at bay.

Scott McTominay – 5 – Scotland’s latest footballing hero was given the brief of shadowing Guimaraes which he started executing well before it got the better of him.

Marcel Sabitzer – 4.5 – Brought in to carry on Eriksen’s duties; the unwanted Bayern Munich midfielder can not be accused of not working hard, but he lacked the dynamism required of someone in this particular role.

Marcus Rashford – 5 – Withdrew from England’s squad during the recent international break due to an undisclosed injury. There was something off as Rashford didn’t look like his new usual self. 

Bruno Fernandes – 4.5 – Provided two chances for his teammates although it seemed Fernandes primary contribution was persistent complaining.

Antony – 6 – It was far from a dazzling performance but the inconsistent Brazilian forward proved to be Man Utd’s shining light in attack before going off after the hour mark. “Anthony is not happy as he was fancying that battle with Burn and he has been more dangerous than Rashford,” Neville noted on Sky Sports commentary.

Wout Weghorst – 3 – Virtually anonymous. Had just seven touches in the first half. It was another three after the interval.

Substitutes:

Jadon Sancho (for Antony 61) – 4 – Couldn’t get into the game but that was hardly Sancho’s fault.

Anthony Martial (for Weghorst 61) – 4 – Had one moment when he cleared the ball off the line before getting Man Utd up the field in a half-hearted counterattack.

Fred (for McTominay 83) – N/A – A late sub.

Facundo Pellistri (for Martínez 83) – N/A – A late sub.

Victor Lindelöf (for Varane 83) – N/A – A late sub.

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