Newcastle United midfield addition made official as Miguel Almiron responds to transfer talk

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Newcastle United beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park - here's some of the key talking points from the game.

Well, who predicted that?! Aston Villa 1-3 Newcastle United - perhaps a timely reminder that this Eddie Howe team should never be written off.

The Magpies arguably put in their best performance of the 2023-24 Premier League season thus far, certainly on the road anyway, to shock Champions League chasing Villa.

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Unai Emery's side hadn't lost at Villa Park for almost year, and had collected 28 points from a possible 30 this term. By the same token, United had only won once on their league travels - an 8-0 victory at Sheffield United.

But this one will taste much sweeter given it come as a surprise to many. A brace from Fabian Schar and an Alex Moreno own goal (sorry Jacob Murphy!) sent Newcastle on their way. Here's five talking points from the game

Newcastle United midfield 'addition'

Newcastle United midfielder Joe White. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)Newcastle United midfielder Joe White. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Newcastle United midfielder Joe White. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Howe named Joe White in the matchday squad after confirming last week the midfielder would be sticking around for the second-half of the season following his return from a loan spell at Crewe Alexandra.

The 21-year-old was an unused sub a Villa Park but the chances are he'll be called into action soon. Joe Willock and Elliot Anderson remain sidelined, and Bruno Guimaraes is still just one Premier League yellow card from a two-match ban.

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Maverick Fabian Schar

Newcastle United's Swiss defender #05 Fabian Schar celebrates after scoring his team second goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 30, 2024. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) Newcastle United's Swiss defender #05 Fabian Schar celebrates after scoring his team second goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 30, 2024. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)
Newcastle United's Swiss defender #05 Fabian Schar celebrates after scoring his team second goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 30, 2024. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) | AFP via Getty Images

Newcastle started brightly at Villa Park and exploited the home side's high-line, yet it was two Kieran Trippier corners and two Fabian Schar goals that led to their undoing in the first-half.

The deadlock was broken in the 32nd minute when Trippier's corner was simply struck home by Schar, who netted his first Premier League goal since scoring against Nottingham Forest on the first day of last season.

And the Switzerland international couldn't believe his luck when moments later an Anthony Gordon shot deflected onto the crossbar and into his path to which he made no mistake with the finish past Emi Martinez.

Schar is a maverick defender, one I believe is world class. And his two goals - albeit not trademark ones such as that Paris Saint-Germain and Forest, sums up his qualities - He's unique and doesn't get anywhere near the recognition he deserves outside of the North East walks.

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All fingers cross on Alexander Isak

Shortly after Schar made it 2-0, Alexander Isak signalled to come off because of a thigh complaint, a concerning sight for Newcastle given the Swede has missed parts of the campaign already with the exact same injury.

But Howe afterwards was hopeful it is nothing serious. He said: “I’d like to say that was my decision but no, that was Alex’s decision. He said he had to come off.

Newcastle United's Swedish striker #14 Alexander Isak reacts during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 30, 2024. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) Newcastle United's Swedish striker #14 Alexander Isak reacts during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 30, 2024. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)
Newcastle United's Swedish striker #14 Alexander Isak reacts during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on January 30, 2024. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) | AFP via Getty Images

"We’re hopeful it is not a serious injury. It doesn’t look too bad but it’s very early to say that. We need a proper diagnosis and then assess where we are."

The chances of Isak appearing against Luton Town on Saturday you feel is unlikely, which could leave United without a recognised senior striker if Callum Wilson doesn't make a timely return.

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Despite the lack of depth up top, Howe pretty much ruled out a new signing before Thursday's 11pm deadline.

"First of all we need to assess the injury and see where Callum is" said Howe. "But I don’t think we have the ability to do anything."

Miggy Almiron gives his all

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In a week dominated by a possible exit to Saudi Arabia, Miguel Almiron really did show his professionalism and all the characteristics that make him a fans' favourite to many when introduced for Isak in the 43rd minute.

By Howe's own admission, Almiron wasn't at 100 per-cent after missing Saturday's FA Cup win at Fulham through illness but he had little choice to bring him on in that moment.

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Deployed down the left, the 29-year-old grafted his socks off and provided the cross that led to the third goal.

Speaking after the game, Howe said: “Incredible. What a person and professional he is. He’s had a lot of speculation which has come from the media but it hasn’t affected him at all. He didn’t feel anything near his best physically today but put himself on the pitch for the team and performed really well."

Eddie Howe's tactical tweak

It wasn't all plain sailing at Villa Park. Emery brought on Leon Bailey on the hour mark and for 15 minutes, Dan Burn and his United teammates couldn't live with him.

Bailey set up Ollie Watkins who made it 3-1 before Newcastle's blushes were spared minutes later by the offside flag moments later. Villa looked good value for a late comeback but a tactical tweak by Howe nullified the Jamaican.

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Tino Livramento came on for Lewis Miley and United went to a 4-5-1 formation. That killed the home side's momentum and Newcastle went on to see out what has the potentially to be a season-changing result.

"I think in that moment of the game we needed to tweak something, we were getting hurt that down side with [Leon] Bailey, who is a very good player," said Howe. "We had some tired legs again in the team and couldn’t make too many attacking changes so it was more of a defensive shift. We’re lucky to have a player of Tino’s quality to bring on and his athleticism nullified the threat."

Howe's side are up to seventh in the Premier League table but it is imperative they follow it up with a win against Luton at St James' Park this weekend.

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