Bright Anthony Gordon And An EFL Cup Final Give Eddie Howe Reasons To Be Cheerful

Newcastle may have had to share the spoils, but they still have plenty to be optimistic about
19:22, 04 Feb 2023

A 1-1 draw with relegation battlers West Ham United is not what Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe will have had in mind today. But the most successful Magpies boss in many a year still has plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Not only are his team heading to an EFL Cup final at the end of the month, but they also have a talented new acquisition in the ranks. Anthony Gordon may have only made a 22-minute cameo here, but there were plenty of signs that he could make a huge impact on Tyneside. 

Newcastle flew out of the blocks and looked to have taken the lead 40 seconds into the game. Joe Willock took an early knock, but recovered quickly to convert Miguel Almiron’s right-flank cross. A VAR check correctly ruled that the ball had gone out of play before Almiron applied his assist, however.


The momentum continued though and in the third minute, the Magpies had a goal they would be allowed to keep. Sean Longstaff threaded a sublime through-ball to Callum Wilson, who left the West Ham centre backs scrambling behind him. The Newcastle number nine applied the finish and it looked like his side might run up a cricket score.

The Hammers were not for laying down though. Lucas Paqueta was a constant nuisance, first leathering a shot that was bravely blocked by the face of Sven Botman. Thankfully the big centre back was okay after a series of concussion checks. Then Paqueta helped his side draw level, arriving at the back post to turn home an excellent Declan Rice corner. 

The goal was the first Newcastle had conceded in seven games, a testament to the incredible defensive unit Eddie Howe has sculpted at St James’ Park. However, half time parity was arguably what West Ham deserved for their efforts, as the sides went in at the break with everything to play for.

Newcastle had a penalty shout waved away, with Joelinton being booked for simulation. After a slick one-two with Longstaff, the Brazilian burst into the box before going over under minimal challenge from Nayef Aguerd. It was a clear attempt to play for a penalty and the booking was a correct one.

With just over twenty minutes to go, Newcastle fans got their first glimpse at record signing Anthony Gordon. Allan Saint-Maximin, making his first Premier League start since August, made way for the new arrival from Everton. He immediately went to work trying to make things happen. A one-two with Longstaff led to a last ditch defensive effort. A fine threaded ball for Wilson led to Aguerd pulling off a heroic sliding tackle. The idea behind Gordon’s signing was to add attacking impetus, and he was doing just that.

Perhaps conscious of how a January signing looked like turning the game, David Moyes deployed his own recent arrival as Danny Ings came on off the bench. But it was still Gordon who looked the most likely. He pumped a shot into a crowded box from a corner to gasps from the St James’ Park faithful.

Newcastle will need to be more ruthless in front of goal than they were against West Ham. But in Gordon they have a player who can equip them to do just that. If the transfer works, it will have been worth every penny of the eyebrow-raising £40 million fee. In fact, if the Magpies lift the EFL Cup and end a decades long trophy drought, you could argue they got a bargain.

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