After last Saturday’s win against Stoke made it three wins on the spin, we travel south today to take on Chris Hughton’s Brighton and are back once again with the ‘Opposition Opinion’ ahead of today’s game.
Here we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before each and every game across the season, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their thoughts on NUFC, some insights into their club and their feelings ahead of our upcoming game.
This week we’ve been speaking to Brighton fan Kieron, who’s had the following to say ahead of this today’s clash on the South-Coast:
Q1) What have you made of your performances so far this season? I’m interested to know what sort of shape you’re in heading into Sunday’s game:
“It’s been a mixed bag so far.”
“Our first game at home to Man City we were very disciplined and held out for over an hour without really looking like scoring. Once they scored it was pretty much over (0-2).
“Since then we were undone by a couple of defensive errors at Leicester (0-2), were unlucky not to have won away at Watford against 10 men (0-0, we hit the post twice), played very well to beat West Brom at the Amex (3-1) and deserved more from a recent defeat at Bournemouth (1-2).
“In terms of the shape we’re in, I’d say we look decent at the back. Dunk and Duffy have been immense so far. Generally our problems have been creating and scoring goals, especially when we go behind.”
Q2) What do you make of Newcastle’s current side? Who do you perceive to be a threat & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you could exploit?
“You’ve certainly had a decent start, and you must be coming into this game thinking that 3 points are likely.
“It’s well publicised that you’ve not added as many players as Rafa would have liked, but you had a strong squad with PL experience already, so I don’t see that as a major drawback in the short term.
“The creativity of Ritchie is always a concern, as is the pace of Atsu in feeding Joselu and Lascelles is a big threat at set pieces, as he showed at your place last season.”
“I think your defence is a potential weakness, and if we can get at your central defenders with pace we have a chance, so we will need Knockaert, March and Izquierdo to run at them to try and exploit this.”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are your strengths & weaknesses in the Brighton side – any players for us to watch out for on Sunday?
“Our back 4 are doing a great job, and we will generally be set up to contain and attack from the flanks on the break.
“Lewis Dunk has been exceptional, both defensively and going forward; watch out for his 70 yard cross field passes, they are a thing of beauty!
“One to definitely look out for is Pascal Groß, who plays just behind the striker. He has been involved in every goal we’ve scored this season, bagging 2 against West Brom and looks to be one of the best buys of the season, even this early on.
“We also have pace out wide, and Knockaert and March will be a threat given the right service from the midfield.
“Our weakness is we sometimes don’t retain the ball well enough in midfield, and we lack striker options. We failed to land our striker targets in August, so we lack depth, and we lack pace in this position.
“With Baldock injured, and Murray just back we’ve had to rely on Tomer Hemed as our only fit striker, and he is many things but he’s not fast. He did score a wonderful header v WBA, but we don’t create masses of chances, so his opportunities have been limited.
“Finally, some fans have expressed concerns about Matt Ryan in goal, but he’s been fine of late, although Tim Krul could make a surprise home debut on Sunday, now he’s signed permanently.”
4) How do you see the match panning out? Score Prediction?
“I feel the opening half an hour will be tight and cagey (Which should guarantee an early goal!). It’s a well used cliche, but the 1st goal will be key.
“We have seemingly lacked the guile to come back from behind so far this season, so if YOU score first I think you’ll go on to win the game; but if we score first I think we will grow in confidence, and win the game.
“The atmosphere should be excellent as always, and I look forward to seeing the Toon Army in town again.
“My optimistic prediction: Brighton 2 – 1 Newcastle.”
5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Predictions for rough league position?
“I think we’ll both survive this season. There seem to be enough beatable teams in the lower half of the table to make this possible, and with Palace in such turmoil I’d hope they can secure one of the relegation slots nice and early to leave only 2 to worry about!
“You have a core of players who’ve been here before which will help, and although we’ve started less well, I think our home form will be strong enough to avoid the drop.
“Newcastle 13th, Brighton 16th.”
6) We had a bit of a ‘rivalry’ at the top of the Championship last season that ended up going to the final day – what are your thoughts about how it all ended on the final day last season?
“I don’t think there’s any real rivalry from last season, and certainly no animosity from our side.
“Yes, we blew a chance to go up as champions over the final 3 games, but for us promotion was EVERYTHING! The way the fans and players celebrated (in some cases for days) after the Wigan game shows how much it meant.
“Prior to last season we would have been over the moon to take 2nd place!
“I think most Albion fans wish you well, and hope that you stay up this season. Let’s hope it happens for both of us.”
7) Tim Krul – He served us well and spent 12 years on Tyneside but we see you’ve converted his loan move into a permanent one this week. What are your thoughts on him signing?
“Matt Ryan (a summer buy from Valencia) hasn’t convinced everyone that he’s Premier League quality yet, so the loan signing of Krul was a good move.
“Krul’s impressive debut in the recent League Cup tie away at ‘plucky’ Bournemouth and having now signed permanently, both suggest he’s going to be in the mix to start Premier League games, and that kind of competition can only be healthy.
“The timing of the permanent deal might suggest he will be involved on Sunday, which add an intriguing twist to the game!”
Once again we thank Kieron for giving up his time, giving us an interesting insight ahead of today’s game. Yet another intriguing taste of what to expect from our opponents, as well as some fresh opinions on NUFC and last season’s ‘rivalry’.
Next week we’ll be bringing you the thoughts of a Liverpool fan ahead of next Sunday’s clash with Jurgen Klopp’s men at St. James’.
As ever, let’s hope for another good result today – HWTL!