With Alan Shearer performing at the peak of his ability, goals were becoming a regular occurrence once again on Tyneside. This century of Premier League goals came in the space of 56 games, 33 of which were wins. Several good runs of form were witnessed in the midst of the Sir Bobby era which brought back the nickname of "The Entertainers" which was established by Kevin Keegan.
Interestingly, since the 500th Premier League goal was scored by Gary Speed, Newcastle achieved a goal difference of +31 up until the 600th goal. The feel good factor was back at Newcastle and showed little sign of stopping under the excellent squad that we had.
Date: 24th November 2001 to 15th March 2003 (476 days)
Newcastle 1 (Alan Shearer pen 30) Derby 0 - 24/11/01
Following defeat away to Fulham the previous weekend, Newcastle placed themselves in good stead going into the winter months with a good run of form which included six wins from seven matches - the first of which coming against Derby at home as Shearer scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot. It was a great penalty from Shearer as he took his tally up to five for the season, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and struck nicely in the corner of the goal.
Most important goal
Blackburn 2 Newcastle 2 (Alan Shearer 71) - 23/04/02
Goal 548: Shearer's second equalizing goal away at Blackburn in April 2002 ensured qualification to the Champions League for the first time since the 1997/98 season and the first time under Sir Bobby. In that match, former Newcastle players, Andy Cole and Keith Gillespie got onto the scoresheet for Blackburn but two equalisers from Shearer meant that both teams had to settle for the point and Newcastle were arguably the happier to do so considering the big achievement brought on by the draw. Robert had the ball at his feet about 25 yards from goal, instead of shooting from the long range, he played in Shearer who put in a really good first touch to set himself up one-on-one with the goalkeeper and calmly finished low into the corner to give Newcastle Champions League football.
Newcastle United 1 (Alan Shearer 86) Everton 1 - 01/12/02
Goal 576: Recognised as one of the greatest Premier League goals, Alan Shearer's stunning equaliser is certainly a contender for one of the best Newcastle United goals ever scored. Everton were in the lead for 69 minutes thanks to Kevin Campbell's opener. With the final whistle fast approaching, a long ball was lifted towards Shola Ameobi who nodded the ball down in the vicinity of Shearer. Shearer struck it first time and it rocketed in the top corner past Richard Wright. The game was far from over after that as Craig Bellamy seized the initiative to create a chance very late on and his attempted cut back towards the six-yard box was deflected by Li Tie which deceived Richard Wright. That win against Everton kick started an excellent run of form that produced one defeat in the space of fourteen matches - winning ten of those.
Most goals in a match
Newcastle United 6 (Alan Shearer 13, Carl Cort 15, Andy O'Brien 59, Nolberto Solano 71, 73, Olivier Bernard 88) Everton 2 - 29/03/02
March 2002 was a very difficult month for the club but was finished strongly with a 6-2 thrashing when Everton came to visit. Injury to Craig Bellamy was felt when Newcastle suffered defeats in the crucial matches against Arsenal and Liverpool earlier in the month. Sir Alex Ferguson stated in his autobiography that he believes Newcastle would have won the title had Bellamy not got injured. A home draw to eventually relegated Ipswich seemed to end the title challenge on Tyneside but the team finished strongly with going unbeaten in eight of the final nine matches. Former Newcastle striker, Duncan Ferguson gave Everton an early lead only for Shearer to equalise soon after and quickly followed up by Carl Cort's last Newcastle goal to take the lead. The score became 2-2 at half time but three goals in fourteen minutes in the second half coming from defender, Andy O'Brien and a quickfire double from Nobby Solano took the game away from Everton on Good Friday afternoon.
Leeds (Craig Bellamy x2, Robbie Elliott, Alan Shearer x2, Nolberto Solano, Michael Duberry own goal, Kieron Dyer x3) - 10 goals.
A fantastic comeback from 3-1 down to win 4-3 at Elland Road three days before Christmas 2001 provided one of the highlights of the season. During this era of goals, Leeds scored six goals against Newcastle from four different goalscorers. Three of those four Leeds players would later move to Newcastle in their careers (Lee Bowyer, Mark Viduka and Alan Smith). Confident showings against Leeds were helped by the likes of Kieron Dyer, Craig Bellamy, Nobby Solano, Alan Shearer, Shay Given and more performing at the peak of their powers.
Alan Shearer (Derby, Arsenal, Leeds x2, Middlesbrough, Chelsea, Man United x2, Bolton x4, Southampton x3, Ipswich, Everton x2, Aston Villa x2, Charlton x2, Blackburn x4, West Ham x2, Liverpool x2, Sunderland, West Brom x2, Tottenham, Man City) - 35 goals.
Shearer's prolific form in front of goal provided a title challenge in the 2001/02 and 2002/03 season. There was never one type of goal that Shearer was excellent in scoring as this era showed. Right place and right time, meeting crosses with his head and in one case, a superb volley against Everton (more details above).
Right foot: 51 (up 1 from Goals 401-500)
Left foot: 27 (down 5)
Header: 22 (up 4)
Inside the box: 80 (down 7)
Outside the box: 20 (up 7)
Open play: 69 (down 9)
Set piece situation: 21 (up 10)
Penalty: 6 (down 1)
Free kick (directly): 4 (unchanged)
At St. James' Park: 58 (up 1)
- Leazes End: 34 (up 5)
- Gallowgate End: 24 (down 4)
Away from home: 42 (down 1)
Strikers: 55 (up 13)
Midfielders: 30 (down 13)
Defenders: 12 (up 2)
Own goals: 3 (down 2)