Premier League 2018/19 Predictions: December 8th-10th

Last weekends Derby Sunday did not disappoint! Arsenal vs Spurs was a classic and had everything from penalties to red cards as tensions rose as Arsenal bounced back to win 4-2. Liverpool edged past Everton in dramatic fashion as Divock Origi handed Liverpool the three points and Claudio Ranieri’s return to Stamford Bridge was not so happy as his Fulham lost 2-0. Manchester City similarly continued their unbeaten start of the season with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth while West Ham won 3-0 at St James’s Park. There were home wins for Cardiff, Crystal Palace and Leicester while Brighton won on the road at Huddersfield. Southampton squandered a 2-0 lead over Manchester United at St Mary’s as Jose Mourinho’s side came back to a 2-2 draw.

Mark Hughes was sacked by Southampton. [Image from The Guardian]

After the weekend, there was a managerial casualty. The draw was not enough to keep Mark Hughes in a job as Southampton gave the 55-year-old Welshman his P45 after eight months in charge and a run of 10 games without a win. Kelvin Davis took charge of their 3-1 defeat to Spurs at Wembley on Wednesday. read more

Premier League predictions 2018/19: November 9th-10th

Last weekend was an emotional one in the Premier League. Leicester City showed great character to win at Cardiff City only a week after the tragic death of owner Vichai Shrivaddhanaprabha It was also a big weekend for Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town who recorded their first wins of the season 1-0 over Watford and Fulham respectively. The top three remain unbeaten as Liverpool were pegged back to a 1-1 draw with Arsenal at The Emirates while Manchester City steamrollered on with a 6-1 win over Southampton with Sergio Aguero netting his 150th Premier League goal and Chelsea defeated Crystal Palace 3-1. Elsewhere, Manchester United showed their resolve to nick a 2-1 win at Bournemouth in the final moments while Everton returned to winning ways against Brighton. West Ham outscored Burnley and Spurs survived a late scare to defeat Wolves 3-2.

That was the penultimate weekend of top-flight football before the final international break of 2018 meaning after this weekend, there will be a two-week break before more Premier League action. As usual for this season, I continue to make predictions that I compare against those made by Paul Merson and Mark Lawrenson on a weekly basis for Sky Sports and BBC Sport respectively. I use the point scoring system used by Super 6 meaning predicting the correct score results in 5 points while the result is rewarded with 2 points. This is how last weekend got on… read more

2018/19 Premier League Preview

Admittedly this post is late. So, too is the World Cup Review which will be published in the next two days. The delay to this post was down to me not having the finishing touches done. However, I have not changed the bulk of the text since it was written on Friday.

Just four weeks since the conclusion of the World Cup in Russia and a new season of the Premier League has begun. From now until May, we have 380 games of top-flight football to be nervous, sweat over in the hope it benefits our teams and enjoy.

The 2017/18 season was a historic one full of twists and turns up and down the table apart from the top spot. Manchester City under manager Pep Guardiola was the runaway champions as they set the new records left right and centre. After a 1-1 draw with Everton in their second game, they went on to win 18 consecutive games to set a new Premier League record. They also set new records for most goals scored over a 38 game season and the most points. In doing so, they became the first side to reach 100 points. They were almost unstoppable. However, an invincibles season eluded them as Liverpool inflicted their first defeat of the season at Anfield in January. That was their first of only two defeats as Manchester United inflicted defeat on them at the Etihad to extend the title race by only one week. read more

Match Thoughts: Newcastle United 0-1 AFC Bournemouth

The last set of league games before the November International break is always a sombre occasion in British football as fans and players across the country mark Remembrance Sunday. A minutes silence was held at all games across the country. In a thrilling weekend of football on the pitch, there was the first round proper of the FA Cup. In the Premier League, Burnley continued surprising teams away from home; this time Southampton tasted defeat. Jose Mourinho’s poor record away against the Premier League top 6 continued as Alvaro Morata secured a 1-0 win for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Similarly, Arsene Wenger lost to Manchester City again and criticised poor refereeing as part of Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat. Everton showed great resilience to come from two goals down to win a league game, defeating Watford 3-2 and Mohamed Salah inspired Liverpool to a 4-1 win at West Ham in a game which saw the end of Slaven Bilic’s spell in charge.

Newcastle United line-up to face AFC Bournemouth 4/11/2017

At St James’ Park, Newcastle United hosted AFC Bournemouth in a Saturday 3 o’clock kick off. Rafa Benitez brought the changes as altered his sides starting formation for the first time this season. It was 4-4-2 for the home side as Dwight Gayle started alongside Joselu up front as Ayoze Perez dropped to the bench. The change also saw Aleksandar Mitrovic elevated to the substitutes bench. Mohamed Diame did not retain his starting spot as Isaac Hayden returned alongside Jonjo Shelvey in central midfield. Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu remained on the wings while the back four was unchanged (DeAndre Yedlin, Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune and Javier Manquillo) and Rob Elliott remained in goal. read more

NUFC Monthly Review 2017/18: September

With the transfer window firmly closed, football got underway in earnest with players settled at their new or current clubs; knowing where they’ll be playing their football until January. The first international break of the season with teams resuming their world cup qualification campaigns and the Champions League group stages started up again. PSG may not yet know the repercussions of their summer spending in relation to financial fair play but on the pitch, they have been in scorching form.

11 Football Developments: September
  1. 200px-Paris_Saint-Germain_F.C.PSG started their Champions League campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Celtic at Celtic Park in their first group game before humbling Bayern Munich 3-0 I Paris resulting in the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti. Celtic responded by defeating RSC Anderlecht 3-0 in Belgium.

2. That opening round of fixtures also saw Barcelona defeat Juventus 3-0 in a repeat of last seasons semi-final read more

Match Thoughts: Newcastle United 1-0 Crystal Palace

Even before kick-off for the ninth round of Premier League fixtures, the league had its second managerial casualty of the season. Leicester City parted company with Craig Shakespeare after only 6 months in charge following their 1-1 draw with West Brom. Quite naturally, they won their next game; 2-1 at Swansea City. There were also shocks as Brighton won their first away game in the Premier League defeating West Ham 3-0 prompting speculation over the future of manager Slaven Bilic while Huddersfield Town defeated Manchester United 2-1. Chelsea narrowly avoided another scare coming back to defeat Watford 4-2 at Stamford Bridge. Super Sunday threw up the anticipated classics of Everton vs Arsenal; the away side winning 5-2 at Goodison Park and Tottenham Hotspur defeating Liverpool 4-1 at Wembley.

England Headcoach Gareth Southgate in attendance sat alongside Managing Director Lee Charnley and in close company of Sting and Jimmy Nail, a poor quality game fitting for Southgate's presence [Image from NUFC.com]
England Head coach Gareth Southgate in attendance sat alongside Managing Director Lee Charnley and in close company of Sting and Jimmy Nail, a poor quality game fitting for Southgate’s presence [Image from NUFC.com]

Unfortunately, as a Newcastle United fan, I find myself discussing one of the low scoring games and arguably the one of least quality as it took 73 minutes for either side to register a shot on target. It was perhaps fitting then that England head coach Gareth Southgate was in attendance and no sighting of Amanda Staveley after the businesswoman entered a period of ‘due diligence’ in the days leading up to the game. read more

Match Thoughts: Newcastle United 1-1 Liverpool

As September turned to October, the Premier League had its last round of fixtures before the second international break of the season; determining which nations will head straight to Russia next summer or will see their fate decided in the dreaded play-offs. Burnley have now scored more points away from home than they did last season following their 1-0 win at Goodison Park against Everton, Kevin De Bruyne scored a big goal as Manchester City defeated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Crystal palace still have zero goals and points following their 4-0 defeat at Manchester United and Harry Kane ended the month with 13 goals in all competitions for club and country after scoring a brace as Tottenham Hotspur won 4-0 at Huddersfield Town.

Newcastle United line up vs Liverpool
Newcastle United line up vs Liverpool

In the final game of the weekend, Newcastle United hosted Liverpool at St James Park in the Sunday 4.30pm kick-off. Rafa Benitez was facing Liverpool for the fifth time since he left Anfield in 2009 and made two changes to the starting line up that lost at Brighton. Chancel Mbemba was not in the squad and Isaac Hayden was placed on the substitutes bench. Two former Liverpool players came into the starting 11 with Javier Manquillo starting at left-back and Jonjo Shelvey partnered Mikel Merino in central midfield. read more

Match Thoughts: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Newcastle United

We saw another entertaining weekend of Premier League football the other week with 29 goals over 10 games. Tottenham Hotspur just got over the line against West Ham; winning 3-2; Manchester United edged past Southampton thanks to Romelu Lukaku;s 6th goal in as many games; Manchester City ran bottom of the table Crystal Palace ragged and Chelsea demolished Stoke City 4-0 and Liverpool just got past Leicester City at the King Power Stadium as Simon Mingolet denied Jamie Vardy from the penalty spot.

Newcastle United lineup vs Brighton
Newcastle United lineup vs Brighton

The only Sunday game in the Premier League saw Newcastle United travel to the AMEX Stadium to face Chris Hughton’s Brighton& Hove Albion. Having made the 345-mile journey to the South Coast, Rafa Benitez named an unchanged lineup from that which beat Stoke in the previous game. That meant Joselu retained his place up front having missed a hatful of opportunities against his former club while Mikel Merino stayed in central midfield alongside Isaac Hayden with Jonjo Shelvy on the bench. Aleksandar Mitrovic served the last of his three-game suspension. read more

Newcastle United’s Premier League Return: Newcastle United 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur

This type of post is something new I am currently trialling with the blog. For each Newcastle first team this season I will provide a review of the game in terms of the negatives and what positives can be taken from the game alongside my monthly overview posts which I did for the most part of last season. If anyone does not like these posts or think I could do it in a different way then, by all means, leave me your opinion and I will consider them…

The same remains if you do not agree with anything I write, it is entirely open to debate and I would like to hear your views too.

Right, now that the formalities or housework out of the way, let’s begin.

Newcastle United marked their return to the Premier League by hosting Tottenham Hotspur in their opening game of the 2017/18 season. Mauricio Pochettino’s men finished 2nd in the Premier League last season behind champions Chelsea so minus the fact Newcastle won 5-1 the last time these two sides met and the 50,077 crowd, this was never going to be an easy task.

2Tottenham are still yet to sign a player this window so the starting 11 was one much familiar to last season with a couple of exceptions. Huge Lloris in goal with the back four in front of him consisting of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweild and Ben Davies who was playing in the absence of Danny Rose. Injury to Kierran trippier and the sale of Kyle Walker meant that Kyle Walker-Peters made his Premier League debut at right back. In the two lines of midfield; Moussa Dembele and Eric Dier were in the defensive layer with the attacking three being playmaker Christian Erikson, Delle Alli and on the right was quite surprisingly ex-Newcastle midfielder Mousa Sissoko who generated the chants ‘no-body wants Sissoko’ all afternoon. Talismanic striker Harry Kane started up front. read more

NUFC EFL Championship Season 2016/17: December

It may now be 2017 but we had to get through December first. What’s not to like about December hey? Sure, the nights are colder and longer but there’s the joys of counting down to a New Year as well as the giving and receiving of gifts from friends and family under the guise of the big fat man with the long white beard. The day itself was saddened as the world lost George Michael and then days later with one of the most recognisable faces from one of my favourite film franchises in Carrie Fisher. May they Rest In Peace. However, life goes on and so does Football which brings me to…

10 Developments in Football: December 2016
  1. uefa_champions_league_logo_2The Champions League Group Stages came to a close in December with Leicester City, Manchester City and Arsenal progressing to the knockout stages while Tottenham Hotspur fell into the Europa League after finishing 3rd in their group, a position secured by a 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow.
  2. Arsenal’s reward for eventually topping a Champions League group was the daunting tie of Bayern Munich (not much luck there) after PSG were held to a 2-2 draw by Ludogorets (their reward was a tie against Barcelona). Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were drawn against AS Monaco while Leicester City paired with Sevilla.
  3. Southampton fell out of the Europa League on away goals in the Group Stage as a 1-1 draw at home against Hapoel Beer Sheva FC saw the visitors progress in 2nd.
  4. Manchester United progressed with a 2-0 win over FC Zorya Luhansk and will face St Etienne in the Round of 32; Tottenham face KRC Genk.
  5. Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d'Or for the fourth time in 2016 and also helped Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid win the FIFA Club World Cup [Image from Sky Sports]
    Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or for the fourth time in 2016 and also helped Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid win the FIFA Club World Cup [Image from Sky Sports]
    December also marks the awarding of the Ballon d’Or to the best player of the year and for 2016 it went to Cristiano Ronaldo who won the award for the fourth time.
  6. That wasn’t all Ronaldo won in December as he helped himself to a hat-trick as Real Madrid needed extra time in Yokohama to defeat Kashima Antlers 4-2 to secure their second FIFA Club World Cup.
  7. Club Badge : 2004 - presentChelsea finished 2016 top of the Premier League after their 4-2 win over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge extending their winning run to an equalling record of successive wins in a single Premier League season; 13.
  8. Five managers lost their jobs in December with the oddest perhaps being the dismissal of Gary Rowett by Birmingham City to replace him with Gianfranco Zola. In the Premier League, Swansea City became the first club to look for their third manager after partaking company with Bob Bradley having only been in charge for 85 days. Elsewhere, the man who blames anyone but himself and that cringeworthy dance at Wembley, Alan Pardew was sacked by Crystal Palace.
  9. Carlos Tevez was one of the latest to join Chinese football [Image from The Telegraph]
    Carlos Tevez was one of the latest to join Chinese football [Image from The Telegraph]
    The increasing financial clout of the Chinese Super League surprised again after Brazilian midfielder Oscar left Chelsea for the league and was swiftly followed by Carlos Tevez.
  10. Football was also given some space in the Queens New Years Honours list which was released on New Year’s Eve: Wales and Northern Ireland managers Chris Coleman and Michael O’Neill were both recognised.
Managerial departures in English football in December 2016
Managerial departures in English football in December 2016
Managerial departures in English football in December 2016
Breakdown of Managerial departures in English football during the 2016/17 season to the end of December by the top four divisions

Newcastle United News: December

Assistant coach Ian Cathro left Newcastle to manage SPL side Hearts [Image from Sky Sports]
Assistant coach Ian Cathro left Newcastle to manage SPL side Hearts [Image from Sky Sports]

Cath be gone: Apologies for the awkward subheading but Newcastle United had one departure in January in the form of Ian Cathro. The well-established catch was the only survivor of Steve McLaren’s First team coaching set up under Rafa Benitez but the lure of a management role was too much for the Spaniard to turn down. He departed to manage SPL side Hearts to replace Robbie Nielson who departed for MK Dons. The 30-year-old’s first game in charge of the Tynecastle club was a game with Rangers. He left with Rafa Benitez’s best wishes stating, ‘When a coach has the opportunity and the desire to progress his career in management, it is always very important to allow them the freedom to move on and develop themselves.’. read more