Newcastle United threw the kitchen sink at Leicester City at St. James’ Park on Monday night but could not find a way to break the deadlock, though the cacophonous ovation was not in line with the goalless draw in the Premier League.
Eddie Howe‘s Magpies had taken the one point they needed to cement their place in next season’s Champions League, with fifth-placed Liverpool’s home draw to Aston Villa on Saturday placing Newcastle and Manchester United within touching distance of securing top four.
The home side dominated and exerted their towering authority as a new force in English football but were indeed unable to bypass goalkeeper Daniel Iverson’s line, having offered 23 shots to the Foxes’ single strike, expertly kept out in the dying embers of the affair by the imperious Nick Pope.
The £10m summer signing might well have been languid after such little action throughout the contest but showed no signs of slack as he parried Timothy Castagne’s guileful effort.
It all could have been so different were the 30-year-old not among the division’s best, sparing talisman Callum Wilson‘s blushes after an uncharacteristically profligate performance.
How did Callum Wilson perform vs Leicester?
Newcastle’s resounding feats this season are a product of astute recruitment and diligent, adept management, and Howe and co really do deserve plaudits for the swift manner in crafting a cohesive team capable of challenging for major honours and European endeavours.
However, the work is plied on the pitch and for all the Toon’s recruitment since the PIF takeover in October 2021, Wilson has been a sensational component to Howe’s system, having signed from Bournemouth – also playing under Howe on the south coast – and been a prolific focal point as the club ascend to prominence this term, scoring 18 goals and providing five assists from just 21 starts in the top-flight.
The six-cap England international certainly suffered a blip in the purple patch against Dean Smith’s City, recording a woeful 6.0 rating on Sofascore and failing to take his chances as gallant Leicester clung on.
Withdrawn from action after just 68 minutes, the 31-year-old missed two big chances and hit the woodwork once with his four attempted shots, but it wasn’t just his wastefulness that inhibited him.
Pope, while heroic with his late save, only made eight passes and 17 touches all match, while Wilson managed to minnow even this low rate by making just two passes and 16 touches, also failing in all four of his contested duels.
Losing possession five times and also finding himself caught offside, it was a wholly inauspicious night for the £46k-per-week ace that might have been cast in a far gloomier shadow had Pope been bested by his opposition, providing Liverpool with an opportunity to weasel back into contention.
Wilson’s goals have been invaluable this season, and he would have never been judged from just one match, especially following a blistering individual campaign to coincide with his club’s fruitful fortunes, but he will count his lucky stars that the Foxes didn’t complete a remarkable snatch-and-grab, thus denting the Toon’s Champions League hopes.