Leeds 5-2 Newcastle: VAR ignores blatant penalty but awful defending does the damage

A bad night for Newcastle United as some awful defending and equally poor officiating sees us come away on the wrong side of a seven-goal thriller at Elland Road. Our favourite bookies certainly didn’t have us down as favourites pre-match, but no one could have predicted the way in which Steve Bruce’s men were put to the sword this evening.

We got off to a good start, with Hendrick giving us a lead against the run of play, but a first half equaliser from Bamford was then followed by VAR’s decision not to award Wilson a blatant penalty in the second half.

Rodrigo then made it 2-1 moments later, only for Clark to equalise via a towering header. It wasn’t 2-2 for long, however, with some amateurish defending (and one stunning finish) gifting goals to Dallas, Alioski and Harrison as Leeds ran riot in the final 20 minutes.

The defeat sees Leeds leapfrog us in the table, with us sat on 17 points after 12 games and 14th in the table.

Steve Bruce made FOUR changes for this one. Out came Almiron, Ritchie, Shelvey and Krafth and in Fraser, Murphy, Hendrick and Fernandez.

I wondered if this signalled a return to a back five, but Murphy was at right-back in a four-man defence, with Fernandez alongside Clark, Lewis keeping his place at left-back, Hayden pushing up alongside Sean Longstaff, Fraser and Hendrick out wide and Joelinton playing just off Wilson up top.

We started much the better side, pushing high up the pitch, pressing well and winning a series of free kicks. We wasted bot of those – which was frustrating given how vulnerable Leeds have been from set pieces – but it was great to see us start with on the front foot, with a mishit cross from Isaac Hayden clipping the crossbar.

After a strong opening five minutes, Leeds then began to find their passing game and were the side asking all the questions, first via dangerous cross from Dallas, then a clever cut-back that was lashed over by Rordrigo. We just about withstood that onslaught, but the hosts were now enjoying 68% of the ball and creeping closer and closer to an opener as Darlow palmed away Cooper’s header from a corner.

A pretty awful 20 minutes was then followed by a much needed attack to relieve some pressure. After Clark carried the ball out of defence and moved us into the final third, Fraser tested Meslier with a decent shot that looked destined for the far corner.

The Scot was then involved moments later as Leeds failed to clear. He picked up the ball on the left-hand side, drove at his man and floated in a tempting cross. That cross found Wilson, whose clever flick was met perfectly by Hendrick at the back post, allowing him to tap in and hand us a 1-0 lead on the 26th minute mark.

Leeds fans may have been left scratching their head after 70% possession, a hatful of shots and a host of decent chances – they had been the better side – but Bielsa’s side had looked soft touch defensively from the first minute and we’d exploited that.

That said, they’d been well on top and got straight back to hounding the Newcastle United box as soon as the game restarted. First came a thunderous strike from Raphinha blocked well by Darlow, then the Brazilian headed over after peeling away from his man. An equaliser was coming and that’s exactly what they got with 35 minutes on the clock.

Not for the first time, Raphinha was given too much room, and his cross met Rodrigo. The Spaniard’s looping header beat Darlow, clipped the bar and fell kindly for Bamford – who tapped in to make it 1-1:

At this point, our midfield was getting bypassed far too easily, crosses were coming into the box at will – Murphy and Lewis couldn’t cope – and Leeds were having far too many attempts on goal, with last-ditch defending from Clark and Fernandez, a big save from Darlow or some bad finishing from Leeds the only reason we weren’t losing at the break.

We were not only sitting deeper and deeper, despite a positive first five minutes, but our inability to string more than a few passes together meant we were constantly inviting pressure.

Heading into the second half, you felt we couldn’t ship another 14 shots and get away with it.

Thankfully, we pushed up after the restart to give our battered back four some much needed relief, but were denied an absolutely blatant penalty, with Wilson clearly taken down from behind after receiving a ball across the box from Lewis.

The referee waved it away and it was left to VAR – only for them to watch the replays and wave it away! Unbelievable.

How can ‘expert officials’ watch that and believe there’s no foul? Even if he wins the ball (which he didn’t) , it’s one of the simplest ruled in refereeing that you can’t tackle from behind!

Naturally, Leeds then went down the other end and made it 2-1, with a Harrison’s cross being glanced in well by Rodrigo.

On the balance of play they were decent value for their lead, but it was a bitter pill to swallow when we should’ve had a spot kick a few minutes earlier to make it 1-2.

Thankfully, we dusted ourselves down and got straight back at them. After Krafth replaced Hendrick, Murphy moved into more of an attacking role down our right and immediately made an impact. He beat Alioski for pace, got his head up and picked out Wilson, whose effort into the turf was brilliantly tipped over by Meslier.

Then, from the resultant corner we exposed Leeds’ frailties from set pieces, with Fraser’s corner being met brilliantly by Clark. He got up highest and headed past Meslier to make it 2-2!

It felt like we were back in it and ready to push for a late winner, only for Leeds to then run riot in the final 25 minutes via some amateurish defending.

First it was Dallas who arrived unmarked at the back post to make it 3-2. Almiron didn’t track his run and Lewis attempt to cut out the delivery was weak, but it was a goal we could’ve avoided had Sean Longstaff not lost the ball in an awful area:

We then pushed for an equaliser but were caught on the counter all too easily, with Bruce’s risk-reward approach in the final five minutes backfiring.

After Longstaff lost it, this time in the opposition box, Leeds quickly created a 5 on 2 situation and were soon queuing up at the back post to make it 4-2.

Hernandez had about four players to pick out, and it was Alioski who fired past Darlow to make it four:

Although it came via some more naive defending, Leeds’ fifth was a stunner.

This time it was Harrison who got in on the act, bursting clear straight from another Newcastle attack and smashing into the top corner from range:

It just might have been different had VAR handed us that blatant penalty, but let’s not act like Leeds didn’t deserve that.

We were sloppy all night, constantly asked for trouble, had just 31% of the ball and conceded 25 shots, with it quite telling that Clark and Darlow were arguably our two best players…despite conceding five.

With a big game to come against Fulham on Saturday and a cup quarter final at Brentford next week, let’s hope that is only a blip and result of two games in five days after a Covid outbreak at the club.

Sadly, I think most would agree that a defeat like that had been coming – even if recent results suggested we’d not been giving Bruce enough credit.

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

40 thoughts on “Leeds 5-2 Newcastle: VAR ignores blatant penalty but awful defending does the damage

  1. Fantastic display by Leeds.
    A breath of fresh air.
    Defensively Leeds are without both their centre backs, so it is no surprise they are weak from set pieces.
    It always make me laugh when managers moan about goals their teams let in, when the goals their team scores are ok.
    With Mr Bielsa performance is everything.
    You win you lose, but you have to play the game for pleasure and entertainment.

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  2. Henryv:
    Fantastic display by Leeds.
    A breath of fresh air.
    Defensively Leeds are withoutboth their centre backs, so it is no surprise they are weak from set pieces.
    It always make me laugh when managers moan about goals their teams let in, when the goals their team scores are ok.
    With Mr Bielsa performance is everything.
    You win you lose, but you have to play the game for pleasure and entertainment.

    All of this but in reserve for Bruce.

    At the risk of upsetting his son, he’s an absolute clueless moron.

    I have no problem going down fighting, but bottling it from the start just isn’t on.

    No player can truly effect a game when their team has 30% possession or less.

    I don’t want to pick up points and survive the Bruce way. I’m sick and tired of being let down by someone who claims to be a Geordie and knows what the fans want to see – then serves this sh!te up on a regular basis.

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  3. bruceless saying the defending is what you see at the park on a sunday its him who is coaching the team, people will make mistakes when your defending all the game like he sets the team up to do, next 2 games are must win to keep the critics off his back lose them and the knives will be drawn

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  4. Bruce said that up until the last 12 minutes we gave as good as we got. They had 25 goal attempts Steve and but for some bad finishing and a couple of good saves we would have been buried by the hour mark. It was a bad performance and he was looking for a Bruce special of absorbing pressure and hoping to nick a goal or 2.

    I dont blame Bruce for making the subs. They were pretty much like for like. I do blame him for overcommitting at corners. You dont have to have the whole team up. On the one hand it shows he was was going for it but that is just naive. It is not like when you are in the 95th minute and send the goalie up. At a goal down, you have to watch for the sucker punch.

    I mean, we were outplayed for most of the match but do have a bit of quality that kept us in it. Mainly Darlow, Wilson, Clark and Fraser. They would all get in that Leeds team in a heartbeat so this should have been more of a contest.

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  5. Another bad performance. Not much difference to the other games this season win, lose or draw. But Leeds were always going to do it to us as anybody who can play the ball fast causes us all sorts of problems. It’s just another game for us. Played the same, have possession up and the opposition had a Gazzillion chances.

    I’m actually bored ****less with it. I really hope they don’t let fans back in. I wouldn’t go if you paid me.

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  6. Really strange things going on in Mackemland. I wont even get into their ownership situation. This is about them unilaterally calling off 3 games because of Covid. I didnt know you could do that. They have also shut down the training ground until Dec 27 and then they have a game 2 days later. I thought our handling of Covid was/is a bit of a mess but I think they could be in for sanctions. The health of staff and players is paramount but I think you have to talk to the league.

    They are also 9th in the 3rd division one place below Accrington Stanley. Werent they non-league just a few years ago?

    Our shambles at Leeds was bad but the Mackems have it so much worse. I doubt they will be flying banners over SJP anytime soon. Some of their trolls also have the audacity to make fun of NUFC after a loss like today. The total lack of self awareness just amazes me sometimes.

    The game on Dec 29th is against Accrington BTW. With 10 days of isolation and only 2 days training it will take a miracle to get anything out of that. Then of course you will have a fixture pileup and they also have a new Manager who was sacked by Bristol City. I just cannot see things getting better unless this new owner buys half a team in Jan. Even then they must be odds on to spend another year in Division 3.

    Again, I wish all staff and players well because this covid virus is deadly but they do not seem to be managing it very well. It is like they have put Boris or Trump in charge.

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  7. What we have learned this season is that Bruce has not adapted in his 20 odd years in management. This high press system has been around for years now and we capitulate every time we come up against it. Bielsa has been playing it for 20 years FFS and now you have the likes of Hasselhutl, Klopp, and even Potter at Brighton doing it. We come up against it week in and week out and still have not figured out a plan.

    The quality of the players at Liverpool and Man City mean we will always be massive underdogs but Brighton and Southampton? Even Leeds.

    Then there are the teams like Spurs and Man U who often play the counterattack but play the press against us and again we fold. As soon as any team puts pressure on us we retreat into our shell. Even West Brom for half an hour.

    I dont think for a second that Bruce will figure it out and we will have to be content with beating a few strugglers and getting the odd lucky win or draw against the top 10. It might be enough to keep us up, but is it really enough…? Especially when the Fat Man actually let the moths out of his wallet a bit.

    I fear Christmas. Even Leicester who are a bit of a bogey team for us. Brendan does that quick pass pressing play when he sees fear in the other team. He will certainly see that with us.

    Luckily, we are playing Fulham next who Parker has set up not to lose first and foremost so we may actually see some of the ball.

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  8. I think you also have to conclude that you cannot play Sean Longstaff in any sort of holding role against the high press. He either overelaborates or dithers in our half. He has to play further up the pitch or play Matty. I have seen nothing from Longstaff the taller in the last 18 months that makes me think he is top half PL.

    We still have 2 loan opportunities in Jan and desperately need a central midfielder. A real box-box type in the mold of Rob Lee, Gary Speed or even Lee Boyer.

    The French league is imploding as well after the TV company that has the rights stopped paying their bills and have now pulled out. We can go back in for that player we supposedly offered 35 mil last year for – Saccour or something.

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  9. Bruce’s post match interviews are like he’s a pundit on MOTD or something – he openly points out all that went wrong and says it with such assurance that you forget at times HE’S bloody responsible!!.

    Lee Ryder – I’ll try and take a positive Steve – Ryan Fraser looked good. You watching that game & have 1 question to Bruce and that’s what you come up with?!?!?!!!

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  10. Eric Sykes:
    Sharpy, mate. Ryder is an idiot. Ask Ice, he dislikes him more than me 🙂

    Eric – it just blew my mind that after a 5-2 battering, having only 30% possession again, facing over 20 shots and having our worse ever pass completion rate – Ryder thought Fraser had a good game.

    Darlow was excellent again – feel so sorry for him. Thought Clark was ok as well but the rest of the muppets in front of them – horrible.

    Oh and whoever is telling Longstaff he’s better than NUFC wants their heads read!!. He was awful last night.

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  11. I can’t believe Bruce thinks we could have gone on to win it in the last 15 mins???.

    What game was he watching?? Both our goals were against the run of play.

    Leeds are awful at set pieces. That should have been our biggest threat – but we don’t have a player who can put a bloody cross in!!. So much so that they actually counter us and score from OUR set pieces.

    If it was any other club I’d find it hilarious!!.

    So many decent managers out of work and we are stuck with Bruce 🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️

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  12. Sharpy17:
    I can’t believe Bruce thinks we could have gone on to win it in the last 15 mins???.

    What game was he watching?? Both our goals were against the run of play.

    Leeds are awful at set pieces.That should have been our biggest threat – but we don’t have a player who can put a bloody cross in!!.So much so that they actually counter us and score from OUR set pieces.

    If it was any other club I’d find it hilarious!!.

    So many decent managers out of work and we are stuck with Bruce 🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️🤦🏼‍♂️

    Going on to concede from one of our own set pieces is something we’ve mastered Sharpy.
    Shocking last night, don’t know what the pundits are watching every week to keep heaping praise on Bruce like they do, they want to look at a few stats, particularly our possession rates every game.
    Pointless having attacking pacy players if you don’t utilise them correctly .
    Bruce is literally scared of every bl oody team we face.

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  13. kimtoon: Going on to concede from one of our own set pieces is something we’ve mastered Sharpy.
    Shocking last night, don’t know what the pundits are watching every week to keep heaping praise on Bruce like they do, they want to look at a few stats, particularly our possession rates every game.
    Pointless having attacking pacy players if you don’t utilise them correctly .
    Bruce is literally scared of every bl oody team we face.

    Kim – it was like watching the Man Utd game all over again – we did exactly the same thing – we learn NOTHING.

    Unlike us Leeds play with an identity – it’s been well talked about both last season & this season. How Bruce can get it SO wrong when it was obvious what Leeds would do is beyond me.

    I don’t listen to the pundits anymore. I don’t believe for a second they watch the games – they just see the points return and think it’s ok so what are we complaining about. Jake on BT Sport is the only one I have any time for.

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  14. why didnt he bring on Carroll for twenty min or so Leeds are very poor in the air.and that bloody Ryder he would!nt get a a job writing kids cartoons

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  15. I’ve just been looking through News Now – the amount of headlines that read about VAR or slag off Joelinton again (which is just boring now coz he wasn’t even the worst player out there last night).

    Not one article going with the lack of possession again, or 20 odd shots faced again, or our worse pass completion stats – all of which puts it on Bruce rather than suggest VAR robbed us.

    I get that the papers can’t really write it or they will be kicked out of SJP. But why aren’t blogs ramming this down people’s throats??? – coz they take their leads from the papers?, I don’t understand it 🤷🏼‍♂️😡

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  16. icedog:
    why didnt he bring on Carroll for twenty min or so Leeds are very poor in the air.and that bloody Ryder he would!nt get a a job writing kids cartoons

    Ice – coz that would require some form of tactical thought, and Bruce doesn’t do that mate.
    It would also require a player who can actually beat the first man when crossing the ball!!.

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  17. Sorry Olly – posted on the last thread 😆

    Leeds deserved the win. They were quicker to every ball, more alert, won every tackle and were 30% fitter than us. They also have a proper coach but those attributes don’t take much teaching. What Bruce does is a different matter. Does he do anything? I wish he would just go away!

    Having said all that Covid has a big effect and fatigue is to be expected.

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  18. We all know that could have been 7-2. Should we blame Bruce for trying to ride his luck and steal another game? Yes. If you are tactically naive about it and dont allow for an opposition counter from a corner. We know that is Leeds’ achilles heel but do we have to OVERcommit?

    Leave someone quick on the half way line FFS. Do a Pep – a tactical foul. Learn from 59 years in the game. In retrospect we should have been happy/ecstatic with a point.

    We had got late wins against Palace and WBrom so I suppose Bruce thought we could do it again. But he threw caution to the wind this time.

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  19. If you watch Man City they often have all of their players in the opposition half but if they lose the ball they just kick the other player and accept the foul/yellow card. It is cheating, but if Pep can do it then why not Bruce? The Refs never give a red card for this blatant cheating, so why not do it?

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  20. I mean, Man City do not even try to make a fair tackle when the other team have a fast break. They go for the foul, stop the game, regroup, take the yellow. The Refs allow it so until they dont then why not cheat?

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  21. Sorry Olly, I misread what you said about Arsenal defenders. But do we really want an Arsenal defender on loan?

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  22. See new Tweets
    Conversation
    Chris Waugh
    @ChrisDHWaugh
    ·
    9h
    Just 242 passes, only 161 finding their target & a woeful passing accuracy of 66.5%.

    #NUFC’s serious shortcomings in possession are not new but the nadir came vs #LUFC.

    @TheAthleticUK
    on an issue which must be addressed, with midfield signings a starter
    Newcastle’s passing has hit a new low
    Newcastle were outclassed in possession by Leeds and need to address their midfield issues in the transfer market
    theathletic.com
    Jonny Weild
    @Weildy9
    ·
    9h
    But we should be grateful to watch this as fans, according to some pundits. We should be happy with the way we are playing. We want the champions league and cup finals every season dont weMan shruggingMan shrugging buck stops with the manager for me.
    Chris Waugh
    @ChrisDHWaugh
    Replying to
    @Weildy9
    and
    @TheAthleticUK
    Some pundits need to actually watch Newcastle more regularly. Points-wise, it has been a reasonable return so far, but the majority of the performances have been concerning.
    8:45 AM · Dec 17, 2020·TweetDeck
    1
    Like
    Jonny Weild
    @Weildy9
    ·
    8h

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  23. Prancing Pony Pogba is just strolling around. I cannot believe he was once the most expensive player in the world.

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  24. Watching Man U Sheffield.

    Pogba reminds me of dressage. The horses/ponies have all of the skills but they just do knees up and back drills, pirouettes just BECAUSE. That is Pogba.

    Now he has his Gremlin haircut.

    I dont much like Paul Pogba.

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  25. There’s been quite a bit of talk about us going for Josh King from B’mth. If we are going back to Bmth the I think we should be going after Billing, Lerma, Cook or even Gosling.

    Our priority in January imo is CM.

    If we can get Jethro on free as well then jump at it. Lewis isn’t strong enough just yet – I think he can be, but needs help.

    Too much talk about CBs – that’s not our priority, not even close.

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  26. We now know that at least 5 of our players were ill with Covid. Not just a positive test and asymptomatic but with real symptoms. We know that Hayden was “in bed” for 10 days and 2 others of St Max, Schar, Manquillo and Lascelles are fatigued. The worrying thing is that 2 of the last 4 have major covid symptoms and will be out until the New Year.

    We all wish them well because this is bigger than football and we hope they are getting the care they need and that their families are also well or at least asymtomatic.

    But, to beat a dead horse, why the secrecy from NUFC/KGB? We all knew it would come out in the end, so why the cloak and dagger routine?

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  27. In his press conference Bruce said that for Leeds’ last 2 goals we were “chasing the game”. Am I annoyed that we sent everybody up for corners when we still had 10 mins plus stoppage time? Did we need to be so desperate?

    I actually think it was a dumb move even though they are notoriously bad from set pieces and we were creating little from open play. We left ourselves open to a counter attack which is exactly what happened. You then have an even bigger mountain to climb. Most of the time we would have got lucky with them getting a goal kick and us regrouping but it is still a bad tactic to throw caution to the wind with 10 minutes to go and only a goal down.

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  28. Schoolboys running the club from top to bottom. Even the first team tactics are under 11 standard.
    Not confident for Fulham but we surely must be stronger than at Leeds. Get Krap, Hendrick, Joe and Lewis out and either rest SL or move him forward

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  29. geogio: I would give Matty a go. Sean has made more errors than good moves for us in the last 18 months and needs to EARN a place even when we have so many out. Shelvey will return, but we would be mad to play Hayden. And Hendrick?

    Time for Gayle to start and Joe to be benched. WE have to give THEM something to think about instead of the other way around which was how it was at Leeds.

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  30. I would sort of be OK with Bruce giving up 70% possession against Man City and Liverpool if we executed the second part of the plan – the counter attack!!!! But for fcks sake just sitting back and desperately defending against Leeds, S’ton and Brighton is not a plan. It is Steven Taylor defending. Hoping that a last gap foot in will save your blushes.

    And just give up on Joelinton now. I am sick of people defending him because of work rate etc. The ball bounces off him. Even if he has a good first touch the second touch ends up with the opposition. And for every nice ball there are 10 that go straight back to the other team.

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  31. We are playing with a 9 man team with Joelinton and Sean Longstaff. 8 and a half if you put Hendrick in as well. He has shown very little apart from the 2 goals and 1 good pass against West Ham. More than Longstaff though 🙂

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  32. We can beat Fulham though. We dont have a bad team. We have:

    Darlow – best English keeper even though I doubted him. He has improved so much with his decision making.

    Full backs without Dummy and Manquillo – Oh Fck!!!

    Centre Backs – great

    Midfield – if Shelvey is on we are good. Sean has been sh!t. Hendrick? Hayden is OK.

    Forwards – we have forwards now with Wilson Miggy Fraser Murphy

    That’s OK. Pity our best player is out – St Max.

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  33. Prediction!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am going to go FULL Michael Owen and say 1 – 1.

    Does anybody remember the old Spitting Image stuff on a Sunday night? They had Steve Davis on giving himself a nickname because it was Alex “Hurricane” Higgins and Jimmy “Whirlwind” White. It was Steve “interesting” Davis.

    Every time I see Owen I think MICHAEL “INTERESTING” OWEN (like Steve Davis). Does he ever predict anything other than a draw?

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  34. “I think I will go for a 1-1 there Jamie but I have a horse running at Catterick this afternoon so do not follow football that much anymore”.

    But Michael, that’s what we pay you for. To follow football…

    “1-1 then. Can I continue to zoom when this vaccine kicks in so I never have to be at a football match again”?

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