The match had a rip-roaring start, with Joe Willock scoring in the opening minute before seeing the goal chalked off by VAR. The St James’ Park faithful didn’t need to wait long for 1-0 on the scoreboard, though, with Callum Wilson latching onto Sean Longstaff’s ball just a couple of minutes later to fire Newcastle into the lead.
That emphatic opening simmered out, however, and West Ham’s new-found fluidity caused problems for Eddie Howe‘s side, prohibiting the Magpies from adding to their early flurry of offensive activity, with Lucas Paqueta restoring parity later in the first half.
The Brazilian’s drilled equaliser after the half-hour mark was the first time that Newcastle have conceded in the Premier League since November 6th, with the resilient and cohesive backline forming the nucleus of Howe’s high-flying team.
While the result ensures a fourth draw out of the last five in the league for the Tynesiders, there has still been a remarkable sense of progress in such a short space of time following the Saudi-led takeover last season, the appointment of Howe as manager and the shrewd signings made over the course of the past 13 months.
The first player signed under PIF’s ownership was Kieran Trippier, with the 32-year-old signing for £12m from Atletico Madrid in January 2022 and since cementing his position as undisputed first-choice right-back at Newcastle.
As per FBref, he ranks among the top 1% of full-backs in Europe’s main five leagues for shot-creating actions, the top 5% for rate of goals and the top 10% for progressive passes, elements to his game which were very much on show against the Irons.
BBC journalist Emlyn Begley praised the 32-year-old for another “high-quality” performance, and indeed no player on the pitch for either team could match Trippier’s 7.6 rating from Sofascore, with his tireless performance and spark with the ball yet again leaving him as Newcastle’s most creative outlet.
The Magpies captain was very much in the thick of the action, enjoying 100 touches, completing 80% of his passes and making three key passes. He was also fouled three times and won six of his ten duels, indeed encompassing the dynamic role for which modern full-backs should strive.
While the in-form Tynesiders suffered another setback in the top flight, they still hold a four-point advantage over fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur overnight and have tasted defeat in the league just once all season, away to Liverpool back in August.
With Trippier combining leadership and experience with his consistently superlative performances, they seem well-placed to maintain their position inside the Champions League berths for another while yet.