That Carabao Cup semi-final victory seems to have blown Newcastle United slightly off course. The 1-1 draw at Bournemouth was their second successive draw in the Premier League and after a sluggish start, they can be thankful for the point they came away with.
That Carabao Cup final later this month, Newcastle’s first visit to Wembley for a final since 1999, is clearly looming large. The fans are consistently singing about it from the stands and clearly the players are naturally dreaming of that day on February 26. It’s such a monumental occasion for the club, that it seems to have taken the wind from their sails in the Premier League.
The semi-final second leg also featured one key moment that the Magpies are still feeling. They’ve got a talented starting XI for sure, but Bruno Guimaraes is the jewel in the crown. The Brazilian midfielder is the man who makes everything tick for Newcastle and without him, they don’t possess the same incision or energy in midfield.
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The red card against Southampton ruled him out of last weekend’s draw with West Ham, today’s draw, and next weekend’s home match against Liverpool. He’ll return for the final, but without him, Newcastle have lost their sparkle. A midfield three of Sean Longstaff, Joelinton and Joe Willock is hard-working, but none of the three have the same eye for a pass that Bruno has.
It’s a solution Eddie How will be desperate to find, given how sluggish in the opening half an hour at the Vitality. Their passes weren’t sticking and they were unable to stamp their authority on the game. Howe knows all too well how important it is for Bournemouth to get the fans onside and his Magpies allowed the home side to dominate the early proceedings, build momentum and get in front.
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Just before the half hour mark a corner was flicked on by Dango Ouattara at the near post and Marcos Senesi was there at the back post to poke the Cherries in front. It was a goal that the underperforming home side deserved and their influx of new signings in January appeared to have invigorated the hosts.
An injury to Willock meant that Anthony Gordon was introduced off the bench earlier than expected and it seemed to spark Newcastle into life. Longstaff continued his attacking runs and was played through by Alexander Isak and although Neto denied him, Miguel Almiron was on hand to place home the rebound, and score his tenth goal of the season.
Even though the team with the worst defensive record in the Premier League met the team with the best, it was a tense encounter once the scores were level. Late on, Solanke had a close range effort dramatically cleared off the line by Trippier and Bournemouth will be delighted with their showing, but ultimately it was a missed opportunity for both teams.
90 more minutes without Bruno Guimaraes. You can bet Eddie Howe is counting down every single one of them.
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