Newcastle United have sealed their first Premier League victory since mid-January and Eddie Howe will be thrilled with the improved attacking presence his team provided in the moments that mattered this evening.

The Magpies brought their Champions League dreams back to life by snatching all three points from Wolverhampton Wanderers as they have moved into fifth and sit just four points behind Tottenham Hotspur with two games in hand on their positional rivals for the top four spot.

Despite having less possession at St James’ Park today (42%), Newcastle had far more shots on goals (19 v 7), created more big chances (3 v 1) and completed more successful dribbles (13 v 11) all an attribute to the impressive attacking performance Howe’s side put on in front of the home support.

Howe made two incredible changes to his starting XI with Joe Willock and Alexander Isak completely transforming the pace of play and attacking threat throughout their displays, a far cry from the lethargic and uninspiring performances seen of late from the Magpies.

Isak finally got his opportunity to replace Callum Wilson in the centre-forward role and didn’t disappoint when he found the back of the net in the 26th minute to give Newcastle the lead.

A miscommunication between Kieran Trippier and Nick Pope cost the home side their lead in the second half when Hwang Hee-Chan took advantage of the blunder with an equaliser in the 70th minute, however, super sub Miguel Almiron saved the day just nine minutes later to secure the victory on Tyneside.

Whilst Isak’s impact was undoubtedly a huge part of Newcastle’s redemption, running the Wolves defence ragged particularly in the first half, it was the opportunity given to Willock due to Joelinton’s suspension that put the side in a comfortable position against their opponents.

How did Willock perform vs Wolves?

The 23-year-old midfielder has been rarely seen in recent games with only 63 minutes of action in the last four ahead of today’s clash but there is no doubt that Willock would have given his manager a headache worth having when putting together his team sheet next week.

Over his 90-minute performance, the former Arsenal ace proved to be an all-action asset in the middle of the park.

Indeed, he registered the pivotal assist for Almiron’s winning goal, stabbing the ball into the path of the Paraguayan who duly slotted past Jose Sa.

During his 49 touches, the midfielder completed 21 accurate passes, of which two were key, and won six duels.

In completing four dribbles, winning two tackles and an interception too, it was a fitting performance with Joelinton missing. The Magpies needed a combative willing presence and that’s precisely what they got from the 23-year-old.

Newcastle United correspondent Thomas Hammond took to Twitter to heap praise on Willock for his outstanding display:

“Joe Willock btw, unreal, so important to how we play and put on a show today.”

Indeed, the £80k-per-week rising star may have been selected based on Joelinton’s absence, however, Willock has definitely proved to Howe just how valuable and influential he can be in the centre of the pitch and has surely done enough to earn more game-time over the remaining 13 fixtures.


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