Jury’s out on Newcastle United star & Erling Haaland recognises Alexander Isak’s class with request

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Newcastle United had two points snatched off them at the death by West Ham United.

It wasn’t the three points that looked set to surprisingly cap a remarkable run of Newcastle United fixtures, but it was a draw many would have taken before a ball was kicked - and particularly at half-time.

Newcastle United succumbed to a late Mohammed Kudus goal, as the Hammers came from behind to claim a point at the London Stadium. Alexander Isak had flipped the game on its head in the second half with a quickfire double, following on from a Tomas Soucek opener, before sub Kudus popped up with a cracker to break United resolve.

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The game comes at the end of a gruelling run of games for the Magpies across three competitions, a sequence in which they’ve made their own bit of Champions League history with a PSG win and San Siro draw, dumped Man City out of the Carabao Cup and got their Premier League charge back on track after a stuttering start.

So, what stood out down in East London, and how was the point won - or two lost? Here’s five key takeaways as we head into a well-earned and much-needed international break.

Trippier driving standards - at both ends

Newcastle United’s full-back playmaker Kieran Trippier. Newcastle United’s full-back playmaker Kieran Trippier.
Newcastle United’s full-back playmaker Kieran Trippier. | AFP via Getty Images

Kieran Trippier plays well. What’s new? The Newcastle leader has set the bar so high with his recent performances, it’s very easy to overlook just how good the England international actually is.

Trippier not only keeps things organised and solid defensively, but orchestrates a lot of what Newcastle do in the final third, also. What an assist for Isak’s second!

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Vladimir Coufal was announced as the ‘assist machine’ before the game on the tannoy, but anyone with half a football brain knows there was only one provider-in-chief on the park and he’s a Bury-born pocket rocket on the Newcastle right.

It’s no wonder Erling wanted Isak’s shirt

After the final whistle blew on Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Man City in the Carabao Cup, Erling Haaland, an unused sub, strode over to Isak and politely asked if he could swap shirts with his fellow Scandinavian striker.

Class recognises class, clearly.

Looking at the Premier League goalscoring charts this season and only Haaland stands head and shoulders above United’s Swedish hitman in the standings. Isak has six, while Haaland has eight.

Alexander Isak netted twice for the Magpies in the 2-2 draw in London. Alexander Isak netted twice for the Magpies in the 2-2 draw in London.
Alexander Isak netted twice for the Magpies in the 2-2 draw in London. | Getty Images

Sandro Tonali - has the solution become a (slight) problem?

He was better in the second half, particularly when switched with Sean Longstaff, but is Sandro Tonali performing at the level many expected when he signed?

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I think if everyone is brutally honest with themselves, they’d say no.

Sandro Tonali was switched around in the second half by Eddie Howe - and it paid dividends. Sandro Tonali was switched around in the second half by Eddie Howe - and it paid dividends.
Sandro Tonali was switched around in the second half by Eddie Howe - and it paid dividends. | Getty Images

Thing is, this is no criticism of the player. He is tenacious and his technical ability arguably outweighs all but a few in the current Newcastle crop. But - and this falls on the recruitment team - was he really what this high-pressing, forward-thinking midfield needed when looking to strengthen?

It is fair to say the jury is still out. This must also, obviously, be caveated with the fact the Italian is still bridging the language barrier, is in a new league and a new team. Plenty of time for things to turn around.

🎶 He’s from...

Dan Burn went close to netting his third goal of the season in the second half. Dan Burn went close to netting his third goal of the season in the second half.
Dan Burn went close to netting his third goal of the season in the second half. | AFP via Getty Images

Aye, we all know he’s from Blyth, but that hasn’t stopped the rightful questioning, in an era of progress, as to whether Dan Burn is the long-term, even medium-term solution for the Magpies at left-back.

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Whether you know he isn’t, think he is or find yourself somewhere in between, it was hard to argue against the West Ham performance being Burn’s best in black and white.

Maybe it wasn’t quite that, but his reputation has definitely been enhanced in recent weeks, particularly by his new-found threat in the opposition box. He almost added another goal to his collector’s item strikes against Sheffield United and Paris Saint-Germain this season. His ball through for Isak’s rounding of the keeper was also of the highest order.

Today’s massive upturn in forward output also coincided with a very solid defensive display, limiting Jarrod Bowen to just one clear-cut opening, which brought the very, very best out of Nick Pope late on.

Bruising run highlights need for forward reinforcements

Without Joelinton, Anthony Gordon and Harvey Barnes, as well as a clearly half fit Callum Wilson, the Magpies definitely look rather light in the forward third when a slight injury crisis hits them.

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Yes, I get most teams would miss the quality named above, however a look at both benches on Sunday showed West Ham have more depth than the Magpies, albeit they are nowhere near as good a first team.

Another striker and possibly a wide player, if the funds are there, would go some way to fixing that in the January transfer window. There’s been no suggestion yet that Newcastle will dip into the market for anything like that in the winter window, though.

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