Welcome to the first episode of our new series ‘Previous 3 Points’. Throughout this series we take a look back at important, memorable, or forgotten 3 points that we have picked up.
With Project Restart underway and refereeing decisions once again stealing the spotlight, we thought we would take a look back at our previous game against our upcoming opponents Sheffield United, where VAR certainly stole the headlines.
Before we kicked off our match in the Midlands, we were hovering just 2 points above the relegation zone in 16th place, while newly promoted Sheffield United were holding down a European place in 6th spot.
Chris Wilder and his team had started to become the surprise package of the 2019/20 season, picking up unexpected results on a near weekly basis. It was not a vital fixture, partly due to the game being played out on Matchday 15 of the Premier League season, however the short distance between ourselves and the relegation zone was uncomfortable.
Newcastle took an early lead in the 15th minute when Allan Saint-Maximin netted his first Premier League goal for the club.
The goal came after nice work on the wing by Andy Carroll, who laid the ball back for Spaniard, Javier Manquillo. The full back subsequently whipped in a great ball to the box and Saint-Maximin powered his way on to the ball and headed it past the inform Dean Henderson.
As we have come accustomed too throughout the campaign Dubravka played an absolutely pivotal role in maintaining our advantage. He made a number of high quality saves, including one while in a great deal of pain.
After colliding with a Sheffield United player when punching the ball away, the Blades managed to get the ball quickly back into the box. Although the Slovakian could hardly stand he still managed to leap in the air and claw away a header from McBurnie that was destined for the top corner.
With the players re-entering the pitch at Bramall Lane for the second half, it was the home team that intensified the pressure on us, maintaining a high backline and pushing bodies forward when seeking an equaliser.
This high line was pierced open by our English duo, Andy Carroll and Jonjo Shelvey. The pair appear to have a great relationship off the pitch, but their chemistry paid off on the pitch during this match.
With Carroll playing on the shoulder of the defence, a long ball was played up to him by Dummett. The home team were late when pushing up, causing the former number 9 to be played marginally onside. As he headed the ball into the path of the onrushing Jonjo Shelvey, the Sheffield United team assumed the play would be halted for offside, and downed their tools.
As outlined in the Premier Leagues latest set of rules, players need to play to the whistle, and that is exactly what Shelvey did. He strolled past the defenders and rolled the ball past a stagnant Henderson. As VAR reviewed the goal, it was deemed completely legal, and put us 2-0 ahead.
There were no real chances after this, with the wind blown out of Sheffield’s sails, and Newcastle reverting back into their compact shape.
Main Talking Point
Of course the main topic of discussion after the game was the refereeing decision. Chris Wilder stated that VAR had sucked the life out of the game, by changing the whole in a heartbeat.
I can sympathise with this viewpoint to a certain degree, as VAR has changed football, and not always for the best, but at the end of the day there was nothing unfair about our second goal. If the goal was wrongly awarded after a player was offside then I can understand, but with all players onside the goal was correct to stand. It was the home teams own lacklustre approach that allowed us to capitalise.
As repeated in the Premier League games since Project Restart got underway, officiating has perhaps stolen the headlight from the football.
Sheffield United had a blatant goal overruled as ‘Hawkeye’ was not working correctly. This goal line technology is supposed to alert the referee whenever the entire ball crosses the line. The technology clearly failed due to overcrowding of players and an adverse angle (The sole reason it was introduced!), while the lack of manual intervention added further confusion
What Happened Next
After the victory over Sheffield United, we welcomed Southampton to St James’ Park. We repeated our winning ways as Jonjo Shelvey yet again got his name on the score sheet, and Fernandez scored a late winner for us.
On reflection, these consecutive wins were a big moment in terms of our Premier League season. They converted our fortunes from a team constantly looking over their shoulder, in fear of relegation, to a team who always looked certain to retain their Premier League status. Perhaps VAR deserves some credit from us!
Hopefully we can repeat the result on Sunday as we play our first game in over 100 days, with the opportunity to guarantee survival.
NUFC Hotspot Newcastle United Blog. NUFC Hotspot Blog. NUFC Blog. Newcastle.
Subscribe for the very best NUFC Hotspot round-ups delivered straight to your inbox!