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

Premier League 2017/18 Battle for PL Survival: who will go down?

I have not done anything on football for a long time now. For my plans in 2018, I said I would commit to continuing to produce Match Thoughts posts when I caught up with the monthly review posts. This has not materialised due to a mix of personal circumstances and balancing other priorities. Instead, for the remainder of the season, I will turn to a series of questions to answer in the closing weeks of the season. This starts with the battle for survival in the Premier League.

As the Premier League returns this weekend following the final international break before this summers World Cup, most teams only have seven or eight games left and the bottom of the table could not be tighter. Whilst one team are well adrift in 20th, the other two teams in the bottom three are only a matter of nine points away from 10th. That means anyone of West Brom, Stoke City, Southampton, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield Town, Swansea City, Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford and Bournemouth are all in the relegation picture. But, who do I think it will be?

West Brom

Position: 20th, 20 Points
Played 31, 3 Wins, 11 Draws, 17 Defeats, 29 Goals Scored, 49 Goals Against, -25 Goal Difference
Manager: Alan Pardew
Top Scorer: Solomon Rondon 6
Remaining fixtures: Burnley (home), Swansea (home), Manchester United (away), Liverpool (away), Newcastle United (away), Tottenham Hotspur (home), Crystal Palace (away). 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: 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

Match Thoughts: Newcastle United 2-1 Stoke City

We saw another entertaining weekend of Premier League football after a week of odd decisions. Crystal Palace became the first Premier League club to dispose of their manager this season, giving Frank De Boer his P45 after only four league games which yielded zero goals, zero points and four defeats. His replacement, former England manager Roy Hodgson (Good luck Palace) did not fare much better as his side lost 1-0 to Southampton. Manchester United hit another four, this time past Everton on Wayne Rooney’s first return to Old Trafford. Burnley surprised on the road again, this time at Anfield, Sergio Aguero stole the show as Manchester City hit Watford for 6 while Arsene Wenger still can’t win at Stamford Bridge and Tottenham still can’t get a league win at Wembley.

At St James’ Park meanwhile, Rafa Benitez was back in the dugout following his hernia operation as Mark Hughes brought his Stoke City side to Tyneside. read more

NUFC 2017/18 Monthly Review: August

The football season is back! The transfer window has now firmly closed after a crazy two months which saw the world record transfer fee more than smashed by PSG who paid Barcelona £198 million for Neymar which eventually set off a crazy chain reaction which went all the way to deadline day. Meanwhile, no one has been able to win Jeff Stelling’s £1 million.

Here is a selection of what happened in August… 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