Newcastle United refreshed their hopes of claiming a top-four spot as they beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 away at the City Ground.
This result puts the Magpies into fifth, one point behind the Champions League spots, with a game in hand on fourth place Tottenham.
There were quite a few twists and turns during the 90 minutes, in those, there were lots of talking points, here are four key takeaways from the game.
Alexander Isak has made it hard for Callum Wilson to regain his starting spot
Newcastle’s record signing Alexander Isak started his life in black and white well with an impressive debut away at Liverpool on August 31, 2022.
Injuries have meant that Isak has been sidelined for most of Newcastle’s fixtures this season only featuring 10 times.
Despite this Isak is averaging a goal every 104 minutes for Newcastle and with his pace, skill, and finishing ability it’s going to be a tough ask for Wilson to get back in as a starter.
Callum Wilson’s poor form and lack of goals were becoming frustrating. However, Isak’s recent performances and his renewed fitness may have come at just the right time.
The top four is still a very real possibility for Newcastle
When Newcastle went five games without a win and suffered back-to-back defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City some fans believed hopes of the top four were gone.
Winning two games back-to-back, however, shows that there is still a long way to go before the top race will become a done deal.
These last two wins for Newcastle have left them in a strong position with regard to the Champions League spots. They sit one point behind Tottenham in fourth and just three points behind Manchester United in third.
The next fixture for the Magpies sees them take on Manchester United at St James’ Park should they win they would go above the Red Devils on goal difference.
Newcastle’s midfielders need to score more goals
Between them, Newcastle’s starting midfielders had six shots tonight with only one of them being on target and zero goals resulting from them.
This could be seen as a one-off blip, but, if the whole season is taken into account the issue becomes clear.
In Premier League games this season the three midfielders that started tonight Bruno Guimaraes, Joe Willock and Sean Longstaff have had 77 shots between them.
From those 77 shots, they have scored six goals. When compared to other midfielders in the league these numbers fall very short.
Martin Odegaard at Arsenal has 10 goals to his name, James Maddison at Leicester has nine and Alexis Mac Allister at Brighton has seven. Each of these players also has at least one assist to their name.
It’s also not just about the volume of chances that the Newcastle midfield wastes it’s the quality of some of the chances too. Such as the chance Willock missed in the first half against Forest.
Fans need to be able to hear the conversation between VAR and the referee to make decisions more transparent
One of the biggest moments from the game came after Elliot Anderson scored his first senior goal for Newcastle.
A lengthy VAR check concluded with the goal being ruled out for offside, but, many Newcastle fans watching at home were probably as confused as the commentators as to how the officials came to that decision.
Not for the first time this season and surely not for the last it was very unclear at the time what they were checking for with VAR. It does say on-screen ‘checking for offside’ but it’s not always clear who or where.
One solution to such an issue could be allowing the fans in the stadium and the ones that are sat at home to hear the conversation between the VAR official and the on-field referee.
This way it would be clear what is going on and why they come to the decisions they come to. It would immediately answer so many frequently asked questions during VAR checks.