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REPORT – Sunderland AFC 1-1 Oxford United: Johnson’s side miss opportunity to go level on points with league leaders

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Credit: @sunderlandafcofficial instagram - honours even at the Stadium of Light...

The Black Cats failed to build on their early lead, missing the chance to go level with League One toppers Plymouth.

The Wearsiders now sit in fourth but have all the momentum heading into the crucial Christmas period and have a game in hand on some of their closest rivals. 

The visitors, Oxford came from behind at the Stadium of Light to climb to seventh and extended their unbeaten run to seven games with the draw on Wearside.

Eastwood, Forde, Moore and Taylor all returned to the squad following the clubs COVID crises. 

Sunderland, now unbeaten in four matches, made a quick start when exciting youngster Leon Dajaku beat his man before slotting it beyond Simon Eastwood in the Oxford net, making it 1-0 after just seven minutes.

Elliott Moore had his header saved by Thorben Hoffmann moments before Matty Taylor levelled for the U’s in the 36th minute. 

The veteran full-back found the corner of the net following the cutback from Nathan Holland who pushed the returning Lynden Gooch aside with ease. 

Early in the second half, Black Cats top scorer Ross Stewart hit the bar before heading straight into Eastwood’s arms from a decent opportunity. Nathan Broadhead followed suit and rattled the post for the home side who pushed for a winner.

Gooch was involved again in the closing stages after his sloppy pass nearly gave Oxford the opportunity to take the spoils. Dan Adyei’s afford was denied well by Hoffman in the Sunderland net. 

An entertaining game which finished level. 

HOW IT HAPPENED

Sunderland had an early chance in the game when Ross Stewart was inches away from getting on the end of a cross from Gooch – Eastwood was able to claim before the ball got to the Scotsman.

The home side took the lead in the seventh minute when youth starlet Dajaku cut the ball onto his left foot and fired his shot into the far corner from inside the box. 

Credit: @sunderlandafcofficial instagram – Dajaku takes the lead for the home side…

That goal should have given Johnson’s side a platform to control the proceedings but the match became scrappy.

Oxford reacted well to going a goal down but offered little threat going forward with their direct style of play.

However, the U’s did equalise with nine minutes until the break when Gooch failed to clear the ball and Matty Taylor cleverly dispatched his shot into the far corner of the net. 

Moments later Sunderland saw a penalty appeal for handball ignored when Gooch’s cross struck a defender – replays show the ball had hit the Oxford player’s chest and his arm was in a natural position.

In the second half, Sunderland came out of the block quickly with a sense of purpose and determination to get the three points.

Pritchard and Stewart combined well as Nathan Broadhead entered the box but was unable to get a shot away. 

Before the hour-mark, Dajaku intercepted the ball after a mix-up between a defender and the Oxford goalkeeper. The exciting talent played the ball to Stewart who saw his shot crash back off the crossbar as Carl Winchester put the rebound narrowly over.

Minutes later, Stewart had an opportunity from a headed shot but the ball went straight down the throat of Eastwood in the Oxford goal. 

As the game entered the closing stages, Gooch allowed Daniel Agyei a guilt-edged opportunity to claim the win for his side before Hoffman saved the full-backs blushes. 

With ten minutes to play, Nathan Broadhead had the chance to win the game once again for the Black Cats but his effort from a tight angle wasn’t enough to put his side in front for the second time – despite clipping the woodwork.

Sunderland pushed desperately for a winner but couldn’t find a breakthrough.

A disappointing result in the end but perhaps a good point in the hunt for promotion…

Johnson’s side missed an opportunity to go top following the frustrating outcome but seem to be one of the most in-form sides heading into the hectic Christmas period – four league games unbeaten for the Wearsiders.

The Black Cats face a tricky trip to Morecambe in midweek and will be looking to extend the unbeaten streak to five and gain three points that could see them claim top spot if results go their way. 

The draw with Oxford may not feel enough given the level of performance on the day but the home side added another point to their seasons tally and cemented a place in the play-off positions. 

PLAYER RATINGS

Hoffman (7), Wright (6), Flanagan (7), Doyle (6), Gooch (5), Neil (6), Pritchard (8), Winchester (6), Dajaku (8), Stewart (6). Broadhead (6)

Subs: Embleton (6), O’Brien (n/a)

MOTM: Alex Pritchard

MANAGERS COMMENTS

Sunderland manager Lee Johnson:

“I thought there was effort in both halves, to be honest. We played better in the second half, but the commitment and effort was there. If you look at our bench today there’s a nice narrative – with Embo [Elliot Embleton] and Dan Neil there were seven academy graduates involved.

“But in one sense it speaks to the injury scenario and that leads to some players playing slightly out of position, so you have to credit these boys for how hard they have worked today. On another day we win it comfortably, against a very good Oxford side that caused us problems in the first half.”

He added: 

“We flipped the shape in the second half, decided to have a different square peg in a round hole, and I thought it worked well but unfortunately we just couldn’t get the ball over the line – whether that be due to good goalkeeping, finishes that hit the bar and the post, or at times just failing to get that magic delivery.

“I was pleased today with the performance and with the second half. There was a shape change at half-time, we put Bailey Wright at right-back and pushed Leon Dajaku up to right midfield and dropped Lynden Gooch to left-back.

“That’s why you have to give these boys credit, because that’s Dajaku playing out of position and scoring a goal, Gooch having to play right side and then left side, and then Bailey Wright slotting in at right-back despite being on a booking which made it a bit risky, but these are the things at the moment we have to do. I was positive with the players both at half-time and at the end of the game because I know how much they are putting in and how much effort they are giving.”

Oxford manager Karl Robinson: 

“If you looked at the first half I thought we were by far the better team. I thought we dominated most aspects of the game. I thought we started poorly in the first five minutes, but then we got to grips with the game and looked like a real class act. Our message at half-time was to continue doing the same things, (but) they had a change of shape and we got really sloppy.

He added: 

“I’m really angry with our performance in the second half. My players know I love them, they mean the world to me, but I felt in the second half we became disjointed. You’ve got to say we’ve done well to hang on. People have a nudge at Easty sometimes, but what a second half performance that was from him. That was sensational.”

Post-match thoughts? 

Are you pleased with the point? Can Sunderland keep the momentum going into the Christmas period and extend their run? Is Johnson the man to take the Black Cats to promotion?

Join in the conversation and have your say…

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Saudi Arabia wants its investors to own Manchester United

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North East Updates - Breaking News

Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.

 

Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.

 

It follows the Manchester United board announcing that they are open to a sale of the club.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisalstated he would be keen on Ronaldo signing for a Saudi Pro League after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old a free agent following a controversial interview and exit to Manchester United earlier this week..

 

“Who wouldn’t want him to play in their league?” “He’s a role model to a lot of young players – him and Messi.”

 

Sky news are reporting – It is the availability of United – after the Glazers announced plans for a potential sale – and Ronaldo that is interesting Prince Abdulaziz.

 

What are your thoughts on this – join the conversation on our Facebook page.

 

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Which Newcastle Players Are Going To The World Cup?

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Newcastle

The FIFA World Cup in Qatar gets underway next week and here are all the Newcastle players involved in the tournament

Callum Wilson (England)

Newcastle striker Callum Wilson is a player that has consistently shown the quality to earn a spot in an England squad at a major tournament but has sadly had his chances diminished by injuries in the past.

However, Wilson is currently injury free and is on the plane to Qatar! The Coventry City academy graduate averages a goal every 130 minutes in the Premier League this season, which is the second-best return of all English players behind Harry Kane.

The 30-year-old may have to bide his time for an opportunity due to England captain Harry Kane being the first-choice striker. That said, Wilson gives Gareth Southgate a great alternative should England find themselves chasing a game.

Kieran Trippier (England)

Gareth Southgate has always been very fond of Kieran Trippier’s abilities and what he brings to a team. For example, in Euro 2020 Southgate opted to play Trippier at left-back ahead of a more natural option in Ben Chilwell due to the 32-year-old’s experience and leadership qualities.

Trippier brings bags of experience at major tournaments after reaching the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020.

With injuries at right-back to the likes of Reece James and uncertainty around the fitness of Kyle Walker, Trippier could start at right wing-back in England’s World Cup opener against Iran.

Nick Pope (England)

The last player to complete The Magpies’ England trio is Nick Pope. Toon’s No.1 has been outstanding since arriving from Burnley in the Summer and has earnt his place in England’s World Cup squad.

Pope has the joint most clean sheets in the Premier League this season (6) alongside Manchester City goalkeeper, Ederson and fellow England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

It remains to be seen if Gareth Southgate picks Pope to be his first-choice goalkeeper in Qatar ahead of Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale. Pope started both of England’s last games in the Nations League back in September.

Bruno Guimarães (Brazil)

Moving to South America and the favourites to win the competition, Brazil. Bruno Guimarães has been one of Newcastle’s stand-out players this season and has deservedly earned himself a spot in Brazil’s very competitive World Cup Squad.

Guimarães has statistically been the best midfielder in the Premier League so far this season and will be hoping his performances have done enough to earn him a start against Serbia in Brazil’s opening fixture.

That said, Brazil manager Adenor Leonardo Bacchi has predominantly played with a midfield two of Manchester United duo, Casemiro and Fred at the base of the Brazilian midfield.

Fabian Schär (Switzerland)

The Magpies’ centre-back has been in great form alongside Sven Botman at the heart of Newcastle’s defence this season and will be hoping to continue his form in Qatar.

Schär has some tough competition in his position in the form of Manchester City centre-back Manuel Akanji and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi.

Switzerland find themselves in the same group as tournament favourites Brazil, which will see Schär reunited with Toon teammate Bruno Guimarães in Gameweek 2.

Who didn’t make the squad?

The most surprising player to not make their country’s squad is Sven Botman. The former Lille centre-back has been a major part of why Newcastle has the Premier League’s best defence so far this campaign.

Louis van Gaal has a great pool of centre-backs available to him and opted for the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij and Nathan Ake over Botman.

Another Toon player with World Cup disappointment is Joelinton, who has failed to follow Bruno Guimarães on the plane to Qatar.

Joelinton has been a revelation under Eddie Howe following his remarkable transformation from a striker to a box-to-box midfielder. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Joelinton this year.

Have Your Say

Who do you think will win the World Cup?

Which Newcastle player will be the best performer?

Let us know on our Facebook page!

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What We Learnt (Spurs 1-2 Newcastle)

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deadline day

Newcastle United were victorious at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium yesterday, winning 2-1 and now sit fourth in the Premier League. This is the first time they’ve been there at this stage of the season in 10 years.

 

Goals from Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron were enough to scare away any chances of a second-half Spurs comeback. That’s six goals for Miggy in what is now his best-ever season for goals in black and white.

 

With 21 points, just five behind Manchester City and seven behind current league leaders Arsenal, the Toon are looking better than ever, but what did the victory yesterday tell us?

 

Toon are charging for Europe

 

If you didn’t believe it at the start of the season you should now. Eddie Howe has transformed Newcastle into a team with a winning mentality with a real sense of togetherness in a squad who are willing to battle for one another, week in and week out.

 

Very few teams will travel to London this season and manage to come away with a point, never mind three when playing Spurs. Not only this game, however, but Man City (3-3), Liverpool (2-1) and Brentford (5-1) have also shown that Howe and his side mean business this season and are willing to go toe to toe with some of the very best teams, coaches and players in the world. 

 

In his first signing interview, Sven Botman said, “Newcastle wants to reach the top and the top is in the league and, at the end, maybe in Europe.” Maybe he didn’t specifically mean this season but now he and the rest of his teammates should believe that they have a real chance of playing European football next season.

 

Almiron transformation shouldn’t go unnoticed

 

Almiron made 30 appearances last season in the league and finished with just one goal and no assists. Now, after just 12 games and six goals, the Paraguayan is already on course to smash his previous goal-scoring records which have seen him accumulate nine Premier League goals over the course of four seasons. 

 

Loved by the fans and with the full support of his teammates, it can only get better for the Paraguayan at this point. His goal against Tottenham showed the dribbling, flair and finishing quality he withholds, something that Steve Bruce and Rafael Benitez could never get out of him.

 

Eddie Howe must be awarded credit for this development, as with the current budget the club has, he could’ve easily found a replacement in the summer. But, just like Joelinton, Miggy has cemented his spot in Newcastle’s starting eleven and is proving every week why he deserves to be there.

 

Wilson & Burn should be considered by Southgate 

 

On TalkSport recently, Neil Warnock warned Gareth Southgate saying his loyalty to players might be his downfall and said Dan Burn is “Mr Steady Eddie” referring to his versatility, being able to play left-back or centre-back.

 

Burn started 28 Premier League games last season and this season has 11 out of 12. His consistent dominating performances in Newcastle’s back line have put him into the conversation for a first-ever England call-up and I don’t think many would disagree. With John Stoned injured, Harry Maguire and Tyrone Mings not in good form and not getting regular game time, Gareth Southgate’s defensive decisions should now be a lot more challenging.

 

Callum Wilson has proved yet again his abilities as a top Premier League striker. His goal against Spurs not only put him in the headlines over England captain Harry Kane but also made it four in eight for the English man this season who has averaged 2.8 shots per game with an average scoring frequency of 162 minutes. 

 

With no clear-cut backup striker to Kane, is Wilson ahead of Ivan Toney and Tammy Abraham in the race to be England’s number two striker?

 

So, what do you think? Do Newcastle have a serious chance at European football next season, can Almiron stay at his best and should Wilson and Burn be considered for a World Cup call-up?

 

Join the conversation on our Facebook page …

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