Superman Trippier and local hero Burn the inspiration for Newcastle United’s victory, If Trippier had ripped his jersey open I swear he would have had a SuperMan T shirt underneath.
Kieran Trippier is a real comic book superhero, with a captain’s armband that should be his for life, an injury doubt that refuses to be ruled out, a free-kick winner, and the ability to leave the field of battle on his shield wounded once more.
You’re in dire straits when you lose both your full-backs and SuperMan in a two-minute span either side of half-time – yet along comes a Local Hero.
Dan Burn, a 6ft 7in Geordie giant who used to sit in the seats with his father cheering for the Toon, went up to block every Aston Villa assault to protect a valuable but fragile one-goal advantage.
The result was a third consecutive win for United, who moved four points clear of the relegation zone on a weekend in which the three teams behind them – Burnley, Watford, and Norwich – all lost.
No one should have any doubts about the outcome. What we witnessed was the finest of United’s football from both sides.
They were brilliant in the first half, shutting down swiftly, harrying the opponents, breaking quickly, and full of ideas.
The first warning came when Javier Manquillo was forced out in injury time before the break, and then Trippier was sent off two minutes into the second half.
That dramatically transformed the game. Both fullbacks have been replaced, with skipper Jamaal Lascelles staying at home due to sickness and new left-back Matt Targett unavailable owing to United’s match against his parent club. That’s a defense in shambles.
Burn, on the other hand, repulsed all raiders on his debut, even United’s own Hadrian’s Wall. He actually pulled Tyrone Mings’ shirt off, was the proud leader of a defense that maintained a clean sheet, and took a yellow card for the team to stop Ollie Watkins. These have been as scarce as rain in the Sahara Desert this season.
If Trippier and Burn were the show-stoppers on the main stage, the chorus line wasn’t far behind. Ryan Fraser is a bouncing ball of energy who embodies the new Newcastle, Joe Willock is on a roll, while Joelinton and Jonjo Shelvey have been revived since Eddie Howe came.
The game-winning goal was pure spectacle. When Calum Chambers scythed down Willock, referee Craig Pawson first gave a penalty. The former Arsenal player did not have the same kind of debut as Dan Burn.
However, after a thorough VAR review, it was determined that the violation happened only inches outside the box. It didn’t matter.
It was hard to get the ball up and down or bend it around the wall because of the position. Again, no issues.
United threw two attackers against the wall for the explicit purpose of them spitting, allowing Trippier’s shot to go through. Villa was well aware of this and swiftly deployed a defender behind them.
Trippier hit the ball like an Exocet rocket, and United’s duo split like the Red Sea, but the Villa defender simply waved a leg at it as it sailed past him and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
What was going to happen was obvious to everyone. We did it because of Trippier’s game-winning free-kick against Everton four days prior, Steven Gerrard because he watched it on TV, and Villa players because Steven G reminded them.
Thus, Bravehearts won the second-half struggle, United won the 50th Premier League encounter between the two clubs, and United remained unbeaten in the league in 2022 and undefeated in their past five top-flight matches.
Where we used to spew statistics of persistent failure, we now spew numbers of optimism and hope.
Do you want another? Why not?
Under Eddie Howe, the Magpies have only lost once in eight Premier League games at home.