Manchester United and Chelsea embarrassed by Newcastle; Toney fails again – 3pm Blackout

Matt Stead
Nottingham Forest forward Callum Hudson-Odoi, Brentford striker Ivan Toney and Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimaraes
Nottingham Forest are probably safe; those near Newcastle are not

Newcastle have left Manchester United and Chelsea behind with Spurs in their sights next. And a post-Clattenburg Nottingham Forest should be safe.


Sheffield United 1-3 Nottingham Forest: Nuno’s side a Clatts above as Blades rack up their century
The new manager bounce is all well and good, but there is a stronger force in the Premier League: the departed referee analyst rebound.

There were many apparently “unintended” consequences of Mark Clattenburg’s consultancy arrangement at Nottingham Forest, not least just how utterly embarrassing it was for both of them. But it was the belief that things started to bear out in the results which prompted the experiment to be abandoned.

In 10 games with Clattenburg on board, only Sheffield United (three) picked up fewer points than Forest (six). And that left Nuno Espirito Santo’s side very much on the brink of shuffling down to the Championship alongside the Blades, with yet another pro-Luton conspiracy destined to go uncovered.

👉 Mark Clattenburg leaves Nottingham Forest after ‘unmerited targeting from certain pundits’
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Evangelos Marinakis will no doubt be completely bewildered by Chris Kavanagh’s performance with no-one on hand to talk him through it, but a priceless victory at Bramall Lane is fine consolation.

Callum Hudson-Odoi scored two of the most Callum Hudson-Odoi goals one could ever wish to see, cutting inside from the left in either half to curl past Wes Foderingham the 98th and 100th goals Sheffield United have conceded this season.

But it was the strike in between which settled the nerves after Ben Brereton Diaz’s 17th-minute penalty handed the Blades a deserved lead which really could have been more. For all their obvious defensive frailties, this is a side which often fails to capitalise on periods of genuine attacking momentum.

Forest weathered that mild drizzle, equalised through Hudson-Odoi and took a lead they were never likely to relinquish when Ryan Yates found himself unmarked in the six-yard box to lash the ball into the roof of the net. The midfielder has been scapegoated by a sizeable portion of the fanbase this season for his performances and his celebration perhaps reflected that.

With Luton managing only a draw against Everton and Burnley’s recent revival being extinguished by Newcastle, Forest are finally in a position of strength. Three points clear of relegation with two games to go, the fight against PGMOL is almost certain to extend into at least another season.


Burnley 1-4 Newcastle: Eddie Howe’s Europa-dope floors Kompany and Clarets
Much of that is down to Burnley, whose sudden surge of form over the past couple of months injected some interest into an otherwise entirely embarrassing relegation battle from the bottom four. Then their old failings returned against Newcastle to render all hope lost.

Those familiar failings which Vincent Kompany seemed to have corrected returned at Turf Moor: wastefulness in attack and the avoidable surrendering of possession in dangerous areas combining with some diabolical home form to leave Burnley five points from safety with two games remaining.

The only team of the two looking up with anything resembling confidence is Newcastle, who are eating away at a four-point gap to a Spurs side with a game in hand, knowing momentum is in their favour.

This win put them sixth above Manchester United, with milestones reached each time Aro Muric’s net was breached. Callum Wilson becoming Newcastle’s second-highest Premier League scorer ever; Alexander Isak becoming the first Newcastle player since Alan Shearer to score 20 goals in a season; and the Magpies breaking their own club record for most goals in a Premier League season.

Yet it was two players not among the goals who made the difference. Anthony Gordon set up Bruno Guimaraes and won yet another penalty, although Isak failed to convert this time. And it turns out Jacob Murphy is a far better winger than he is a right wing-back, which is useful knowledge.

The funniest part of it all is the very real prospect that Manchester United and Chelsea might now be locked in a battle for the Conference League. And fair play to Eddie Howe and his squad for making that happen.


Fulham 0-0 Brentford: A match which happened
With neither side able to qualify for Europe or suffer relegation, there was a delightfully low-stakes sense to proceedings at Craven Cottage. Th quintessential On The Beach game delivered precisely because it didn’t.

There was little to glean from much of anything, besides the continued toiling of Ivan Toney. The expected end-of-season auction has become more of a car boot sale, with Brentford’s previous nine-figure valuations being ever so slightly undermined by an 833-minute goal drought dating back to mid-February.

He was not the most culpable for this stalemate – Raul Jimenez skying the ball over the bar unmarked from about 10 yards out was great fun – but Toney is supposed to be the calibre of player capable of deciding these games. Billed by many in January as the transfer Arsenal could not miss, the difference between winning the title and not, he is struggling to be decisive in even the most meaningless matches.

The interviews hawking his summer wares have at least subsided but the awkward realisation might not yet have set in: at the minute, Toney needs Brentford more than he needs them. They have scored ten goals in their last five games and he has not been on the pitch for any of them.

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