Why Bruno Guimaraes might be waiting a while for his first Newcastle United start as Aston Villa do Magpies huge favour

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Newcastle United are unbeaten in their previous four matches as back-to-back wins against Leeds United and Everton have lifted the club out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Newcastle United fans will have awoken with a spring in their step this morning following the 3-1 victory over Everton.

A packed out and electric St James’ Park watched Eddie Howe’s side come from 1-0 down and move out of the Premier League relegation spots.

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An own goal from Mason Holgate and strikes for Ryan Fraser and Kieran Trippier cancelled out Jamaal Lascelles’ own goal.

It felt like a significant evening for the Magpies and their battle for survival - and here, our writer Jordan Cronin reflects on the result:

Eddie Howe knows best

Eddie Howe, Manager of Newcastle United celebrates their sides victory after the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St. James Park on February 08, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Eddie Howe, Manager of Newcastle United celebrates their sides victory after the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St. James Park on February 08, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Eddie Howe, Manager of Newcastle United celebrates their sides victory after the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St. James Park on February 08, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Howe resisted calls to start Bruno Guimaraes just five days after first arriving on Tyneside.

The same went for Dan Burn too, with an overwhelming amount of supporters on social media calling for Jamaal Lascelles to be dropped in his place.

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But Howe, as stated by himself, is paid to make the big decisions and leaving those two players on the bench was vindicated by full-time.

Howe believed it was “dangerous” to drop players following their efforts at Leeds United, which led to only one change - Matt Targett coming in for the injured Paul Dummett.

His faith in the starting players was certainly repaid, especially by Lascelles given how many fans questioned his selection.

You sense Lascelles would have come under further criticism had his own goal proved costly, even though there was little he could do as Fabian Schar’s clearance from Mason Holgate’s shot cannoned off the defender.

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But United’s captain quickly made amends minutes later when he directed Kieran Trippier’s floated corner onto the crossbar before Holgate inadvertently returned the favour with another OG.

Lascelles was one of the catalysts to Newcastle’s crucial victory, winning the most aerial duels out of any player on the pitch as he frustrated and silenced the usually dangerous Richarlison.

Let this hopefully be the start of Lascelles shutting up his critics and Howe getting his team selections more right than wrong.

Kieran Trippier is ELITE

Kieran Trippier of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring their sides third goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St. James Park on February 08, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Kieran Trippier of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring their sides third goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St. James Park on February 08, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Kieran Trippier of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring their sides third goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St. James Park on February 08, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Trippier is the greatest football player in the world... but no, in all seriousness, what an unbelievable performance he put in against Everton. Wow.

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I can’t remember a more influential performance from an individual player than what Trippier produced on Tuesday night.

OK, so supporters can probably name a few from down the years but if we narrow it down to the right-back position, no one comes close.

His positioning, tackling, awareness, passing, crossing and set pieces - everything about the England international is elite. And above all else, he is an exceptional leader. A warrior.

Four games into his Newcastle career and Trippier is already a fans’ favourite as chants of “Kieran Trippier, over the wall” rang around St James’ Park when he curled home his 80th-minute free-kick past Jordan Pickford.

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People were quick to tip Guimaraes as Newcastle’s signing of the season - and that may still prove to be the case - but based on Trippier’s display versus the Toffees, it seems that title is already sealed.

The 31-year-old epitomises the type of talent Newcastle can attract in years to come.

And what about Matt Targett?

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It was easy to see why Howe was so keen to strengthen both full-backs positions in January to add some defensive solidarity and that’s exactly what Targett brought on his debut.

Again, another player who didn’t put a foot wrong. His commitment levels and desire to go into every challenge full-blooded is perhaps even more exemplary given he’s only on loan from Aston Villa.

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It’s usually hard to make assumptions after one game but it’s already apparent that Targett is a stronger option than Jamal Lewis, who was left out of the 25-man Premier League, at this stage.

Lewis is athletic and likes to get forward. In expansive teams, they are two very good traits but Newcastle can’t do that at present for obvious reasons.

Targett offers a lot more assurances defensively that should ultimately free up Allan Saint-Maximin to work his magic, as we saw first-hand against Everton.

The former Southampton full-back did the same for Jack Grealish, so don’t underestimate Targett’s importance if Saint-Maximin steps up another level from now to the end of the season.

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Targett can’t play against his parent club on Sunday but they’ve done the Magpies a big favour by loaning him for the other 15 remaining games.

Why Bruno Guimaraes might have to wait longer for first start

Bruno Guimaraes of Newcastle United makes his debut against Everton. Bruno Guimaraes of Newcastle United makes his debut against Everton.
Bruno Guimaraes of Newcastle United makes his debut against Everton. | Getty Images

Howe stated in his post-match press conference that his new signings must earn their place in his starting XI.

And based on Joe Willock’s improvements against Leeds and now Everton, Guimaraes may need to accept a few more cameo appearances for now.

Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton have been mainstays under Howe, whereas Willock has had constant question marks over his head.

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He’s struggled immensely following his £20million summer move from Arsenal but in recent games has begun to show recollections of the player who scored eight goals in 14 matches on loan last term.

For the second game running, the 22-year-old found a different gear after half-time as 11 minutes into it, Willock superbly dispossessed Dele Alli in the build-up to Fraser’s goal.

Howe says he doesn’t believe in dropping players that are performing well, so where and when does Guimaraes fit in against Aston Villa?

More than just three points

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The win against Everton was so much more than just three points.

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Firstly, it provided a real psychological advantage as Newcastle climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone for the first time since early October.

And rather than drop points for a change, that trend reversed as United came from behind to win a match. Incredibly, they hadn’t done that since December 2019 in a 2-1 victory against Southampton.

It’s also back-to-back wins for the first time since May.

All in all, it felt significant inside the stadium. Fans stayed behind to loudly applaud Howe and his players off the pitch as chants continued way into the night.

It’s also important to note that result brought Everton right into relegation danger. It’s no longer a four-horse race, and United now have belief they can come out on top.

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