Newcastle United vs. Bournemouth result offers room for optimism

Walking away with one point from an encounter that was meant to produce three is hardly a positive outcome, but Newcastle United has reason for optimism after a thrilling 2-2 draw with AFC Bournemouth.

Newcastle United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Newcastle United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Entering Matchweek 26 of the 2023-24 Premier League season, Newcastle United is struggling to rediscover the magic that led to a top-four finish a year ago. Far off the pace of the 71 points it produced in the 2022-23 campaign, Newcastle is still searching for answers entering the EPL's final third.

Settling for one point against a bottom-half team may not be a positive outcome on the surface, but the thrilling 2-2 draw against Bournemouth may have been a blessing in disguise.

In a match that included 10 minutes of stoppage time and an abnormally long VAR review, Newcastle showed remarkable resilience. Despite the costly mistake by Martin Dúbravka that led to Dominic Solanke’s 14th goal of the 2023-24 season, Newcastle staved off demoralization and played with pace and intensity from start to finish.

The persistence of the never-say-die mentality is the positive takeaway that all Newcastle supporters should be feeling cautiously optimistic about.

An Anthony Gordon penalty kick tied the clash with Bournemouth back up at 1-1 in the 58th minute. In the 69th minute, however, Antoine Semenyo fielded a pass from Solanke and proceeded to net a worldie that put Bournemouth ahead 2-1.

Playing without Alexander Isak, whose 10 goals are the most by any Newcastle player this season, as well as Callum Wilson, whose seven goals rank third, hope for a comeback could’ve easily been lost. Inspired play from every angle of the pitch, however, saw Newcastle control possession and generate opportunity after opportunity in hopes of an equalizer.

Bruno Guimarães was sensational in every aspect of the game, creating chances on one end and saving potential goals on the other. Miguel Almirón was unable to find the back of the net, but his energy was infectious in a seemingly omnipresent display.

With Kieran Trippier sending endless crosses into the box, Fabian Schär doing everything in his power to make an impact on both ends of the field, and 17-year-old standout Lewis Miley playing big minutes in a crucial spot, Newcastle simply did not accept the possibility of defeat.

For a team that nearly matches its 11 wins with an overwhelming 10 losses, it seemed like an official 50-50 split would be achieved—but a rare Newcastle draw was instead a cause for borderline celebration.

Mere moments after Matt Ritchie came on in relief of Almirón, the 34-year-old ended a four-year goalless drought with a volley in the second minute of stoppage time that sent St James’ Park into a frenzy! A miracle goal that saved Newcastle from disaster and opened the door for a point to still be secured.

While Ritchie was taking a deserved moment to celebrate with those in attendance, however, the rest of Newcastle's 11 were already preparing for the continuation of a blistering pace of play.

It was emblematic of the fact that this Newcastle team will not take the woes of the 2023-24 season lying down. Instead, Eddie Howe’s side is fighting until the end, showing the vigor and intensity in February that made it special to watch a year prior.

That’s been a steady theme over the past four matches, which have seen Newcastle begin to recover from the dreadful stretch that preceded the recent success.

Newcastle ended 2023 by falling 1-0 to Luton Town and 3-1 to Nottingham Forest, the latter of which was played at St. James’ Park. It proceeded to drop a 4-2 clash to Liverpool and a 3-2 heartbreaker to Manchester City at home.

Since then, it’s picked up a 3-1 road win over Aston Villa, drawn Luton Town 4-4 in something of a redemption game, picked up a 3-2 vengeance win over Nottingham Forest, and attained the aforementioned Bournemouth draw.

The upcoming clash with Arsenal will go a long way towards deciding what kind of ambitions Newcastle United can hold for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. In saying that, while catching Liverpool may be out of the question, the door has not yet been slammed on a top-five finish.

Newcastle clearly needs more than a draw at this stage, but refusing to accept an 11th defeat against Bournemouth was a testament to the mental toughness that is helping this team continue to turn things around.