The winners and losers of NUFC’s season so far

With the season well underway Newcastle are performing well and in the top half of the table, with ten points already collected. Benitez staying has been key to our success, but we’ve looked at some of the players who’ve played a big part in our season so far and those who’ve not had the impact they may have wished for seven games in .

Winners

Mikel Merino has been a real a find for NUFC this season and our star performer. The Spaniard has been central to our success, excelling the middle of the park with his superb passing and ability to break up play. At just 21, he has a bright future ahead of him so let’s hope Newcastle can tie up his permanent transfer as soon as possible.

Christian Atsu has started the season well with a goal and an assist, playing a big role in some of our wins so far. He was especially good against West Ham and Stoke at SJP and after being inconsistent in the Championship last season, he’s been a surprise package so far. The test will be if he can keep this up over a 38 game season, but he has been a real plus point for us thus far.

Jamaal Lascelles started the season with a real battle to retain his place in the XI, never mind keeping the captain’s armband. He excelled in the short period in the Premiership last time and it is that form that has returned this season after an up and down campaign in the Championship. He is back to his physical best after recovering from a hernia and, after the injury to Lejeune, has cemented his place back as a key player for us. He has even added goals to his game and as ever, is a strong leader on and off the pitch.

Matt Ritchie has just continued on from his superb campaign last year. Outstanding work rate, great delivery and brilliant defensive work, Ritchie has epitomised everything good about us so far this season. His end product especially has been really impressive so far and has quashed any doubt that he can cut it at this level.



Rob Elliott has cemented himself as Rafa’s number one and has made some important saves. He hasn’t put a foot wrong and with no new keeper arriving, despite clear efforts to land one, he looks set to be the mainstay in the NUFC goal for some time yet. After recovering from injury and the decent form of Darlow last year, Elliott must be delighted with his season so far on a personal level.

Losers

Dwight Gayle – Our number 9 has had a poor start to the season. He started in the first XI against Spurs and looked lightweight in our preferred 4-2-3-1 formation when up against better opposition than last year. Joselu has since arrived and claimed the striker role ahead of Gayle, and with Dwight offered to buying clubs only for it to fall through the last day of the window, his long term future looks bleak. Gayle was pivotal in getting us up but unfortunately may again find himself not able to get regular top flight football once more.

Mo Diame just doesn’t look dynamic enough for top flight football. Despite previously thriving in the Premier League with former clubs, he now looks leggy, lethargic and doesn’t offer enough threat going forward to justify a place in the team. When he has come on, we’ve seen been brief and unimpressive cameo appearances. At 30, maybe age has caught up with him, but longer term, I expect him to move on.

Jacob Murphy arrived for £12m this summer after showing real promise for England under 21’s in the summer. Speaking to some Norwich fans recently, they felt he had talent but was still a bit raw. Perhaps it is this that has been the key factor in Rafa not giving him much game time yet – with a quiet display at Swansea when he got a start hasn’t helped his cause. Harsh to say he has been a ‘loser’ so far as I think he has potential and it is early days for a young and exciting player; but he hasn’t hit the ground running just yet.

Alexander Mitrovic continues to be left on fringes by Benitez. He scored a nice goal as a sub against West Ham and lashed one home against Forest in the cup, but with Joselu pushing him further down the pecking order, he didn’t even make the bench last time out. A fan favourite but one Rafa clearly wants to move on. Fine form for Serbia may just pocket NUFC a better fee.

Rolando Aarons has returned to fitness and scored a great foal in the League Cup before again going off injured. That perhaps sums up his Newcastle career so far. He really needs a run of games to get going again, but hasn’t been picked in matchday squads in recent weeks. With Ritchie and Atsu doing well it’s been hard for him to force his way into Rafa’s first team plans, but hopefully this isn’t yet another frustrating season for the promising winger.

Let us know your thoughts as ever.

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

37 thoughts on “The winners and losers of NUFC’s season so far

  1. Atsu a plus? He’s pretty much on a par with Perez as far as I’m concerned.

    Merino trumps everybody. Better than anyone we’ve signed for the last 10 years.

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  2. Agree with that Bris.

    Actually Aarons didn’t go off injured, he just had cramp. However he seems unable to force himself into Rafa’s team. He’s a wonderful talent but there must be question marks over his workrate.

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  3. Well, I think the Aussies have Honduras so that shouldn’t be that difficult. I wonder if Donald Trump is tired of winning yet? Not if he watched real football and wasn’t preoccupied with the American one and flags and anthems. It is like Stalin or Hitler moved into the White House. I really cannot believe what he does. I think the word crass was actually invented with him in mind.

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  4. I have lived in the USA now for more time than I lived in England. I like to see US teams fail though. I think it is because of the arrogance of the fans. They call the baseball championship “The World Series” even though there is only the US and Japan that play the game. Same with American Football where they crown a team World Champion when nobody else plays the stupid made for TV sport.

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  5. Duh it’s called the world series because it was originally sponsored by ‘The World’ Newspaper I believe

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  6. Premandup:
    Duh it’s called the world series because it was originally sponsored by ‘The World’ Newspaper I believe

    Thanks man. I didn’t know that. I take back what I said but not about the winners of NBA, Baseball and American Football all referring to themselves as World Champs.

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  7. Prem. I have watched baseball now for about 27 years and nobody ever said that. Probably because The Chicago Cubs had never been in the World Series since 1945, until last year.

    Also, that’s a very archaic reference now and I bet most people just think it is Yanks going over the top and bragging. But, it is what it is.

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  8. Brisvegas:
    Atsu a plus? He’s pretty much on a par with Perez as far as I’m concerned.

    Merino trumps everybody. Better than anyone we’ve signed for the last 10 years.

    Disagree. He’s tailed off in a few games, but he’s offered more than Perez.

    Biggest attacking threat vs Spurs, assist against West Ham, goal against Stoke and one of our main out-balls on the counter.

    As I say he’s not quite continued on from his pre-season form, but I think he’s definitely someone whose stepped up.

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  9. Olly Hawkins: Disagree. He’s tailed off in a few games, but he’s offered more than Perez.

    Biggest attacking threat vs Spurs, assist against West Ham, goal against Stoke and one of our main out-balls on the counter.

    As I say he’s not quite continued on from his pre-season form, but I think he’s definitely someone whose stepped up.

    Him and Perez share a trait in common – they fall over a lot. Trip over their feet, get knocked off the ball, but do end up on the ground.

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  10. The strangest thing about Stan Boardman is that his elder brother was killed in WW2 by a German bomb and his whole comedy schtick was about Geermins. He is still alive and probably still talking about Geermins. I know I am flogging a dead horse ShamrocK.

    But, I think Jamie Carragher is the best pundit out there and he is scouse. If only he could get rid of that nails on a chalk board voice.

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  11. And Sham: I hated Stan Boardman if you couldn’t tell already 🙂

    I will shut up about him now though.

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  12. This site is playing up again. Keeps freezing, all my links to other sites ok.
    Been having to close and reopen link to here for last few days just to comment or read, just cannot come back to it like other sites.

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  13. kimtoon: This site is playing up again. Keeps freezing, all my links to other sites ok.
    Been having to close and reopen link to here for last few days just to comment or read, just cannot come back to it like other sites.

    I’ve passed this on to Andy. Sorry mate

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  14. Rag talk Rafa would exchange Mitro for Townsend cannot see it myself just rags looking for something that’s not there,anyway how many wingers do we need

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  15. Had to laugh Eric mate Merson has signed on for a forth tier Welsh team,but sorry he only playing mid week games wants to keep his place on ssn on a Sat,dam

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  16. Icedog:
    Had to laugh Eric mate Merson has signed on for a forth tier Welsh team,but sorry he only playing mid week games wants to keep his place on ssn on a Sat,dam

    bloody hell, unbelievable Jeff.

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  17. Olly has a stat from Michael “Emiliano Zapata” Owen, who I expect to be wearing a sombrero on his next TV appearance, saying that Southampton have failed to score in 8 of their last 9 home games. We have scored 1 goal in our last 3 away games. So a 4-3 to the Toon then!

    Doesn’t this have nil-nil or 1-1 written all over it. Both teams have their own non-scoring strikers. Shane Long runs around a lot but doesn’t usually have much end product (I hope I haven’t jinxed us).

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  18. I haven’t checked out Owen’s prediction League but I checked others. Merse has us bottom on 2 points and Lawro has us bottom on 3 points. That seems a bit harsh considering the teams we have played.

    You can understand the rationale and reasoning sometimes when they go through it on a weekly basis, but when you look at the overall picture there does appear to be a bias against NUFC from certain pundits. I thought this would change with Rafa in charge because he is well liked and well respected, but it hasn’t.

    I don’t know why I am surprised, because Merson, in particular, is an idiot.

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  19. Paul Merson’s Giant Balloon Head is saying ever more ridiculous things. He says if Harry Redknapp managed the current Arsenal team they would win the league. Now I know I have had a go at old ‘Arry but I do not consider him a terrible manager, he has had ups and downs and I would probably give him a C+ for his career as a whole. It is his bloody Yap that is annoying and that is something he has in common with Merse, they just say stupid things.

    I think Wenger probably has Arsenal overachieving because their 2 star players are obviously disinterested. Also, Walcott is now out of favour. I said last year he was totally overrated and I think the same of Wilshere, even that would be blasphemy.

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  20. The Chronic ran a poll asking if we should get Wilshere and the result was split about 50/50. Who are these morons who want a player who averages about 15 games a season and would demand the highest wage at the club? Was it Troy who voted a thousand times. Where is he anyway, has he gone into hiding because his predictions on here have been 100% wrong?

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  21. Eric – Wilshere is a playmaker and we desperately need one. Who would you recommend that we could reasonably afford?

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  22. georgio:
    Eric – Wilshere is a playmaker and we desperately need one. Who would you recommend that we could reasonably afford?

    He is always injured. I don’t have to have THE answer to know HE is not the answer especially when he would become our highest paid player. Wolcott is on something like 150k a week. Gosling played ahead of Wilshere.

    I did watch Wilshere a bit because I was wondering what all of the fuss was about. He did a lot of pointing to where other players should be. I came to the conclusion that a lollypop Lady would be much cheaper and certainly not injured as much, even with her arthritis and glaucoma.

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  23. Seriously georgio, I think Wilshere is highly overrated and that is the main reason I would not want him. I would take Shelvey and Merino ahead of him. I know that is blasphemy because he was supposed to be England’s next great player but it is my opinion after watching him closely in quite a few games.

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  24. I don’t want Arsenal rejects either. We have seen it down the road where the team was stacked with Man U and Everton expensive rejects. There is a sell by date on some players and I think Wilshere reached his very early with all of his injuries. Look at Shearer, he lost most of his pace after his injuries. He just happened to be one of the game smartest and talented players ever so could make up for it. Wilshere is not in that category.

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  25. And there is Michael Owen who was a great player but was basically finished at 26. There are precedents for players burning themselves out.

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  26. So Paul Merson’s Giant Balloon Head has us losing 2-0 to Southampton. It is not really the individual predictions that matter it is the accumulation of anti-NUFC predictions from him and Lawro. The teams are 9th and 10th so there is every reason to predict any result, but whatever the actual result we will be bottom in Merson’s prediction league with 2 points still. That is just outright bias from probably the dumbest person on TV. For me, Jeff, he would be more at home on Jeremy Kyle than Soccer Saturday.

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  27. Sorry Olly: I think Meson has us bottom on 2 points and we will stay there OBVIOUSLY as he predicts another loss.

    I don’t care what he predicts really. I just see this bias from the second rate pundits against NUFC. They all invariably love Harry Redknapp, a lot are ex-Liverpool so love Liverpool, and invariably cheer for NUFC to lose. Like they get some sort of pleasure out of it. I don’t know why.

    Am I being paranoid? The facts would say not as the 2 most followed pundits on these predictions have us bottom of their guesses.

    And they act like geniuses when they predict Arsenal or the Manchesters will win most weeks unless they play each other. They just spent the GDP of Slovakia on players over the last 3 years so of course they will usually beat Southampton or Stoke.

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  28. kimtoon:
    no to Wilshire Georgio, far too injury prone and lord knows we’ve had enough sicknotes in recent times.

    I agree 100% mate could not even hold his place at B/mouth with a toon reject taking his place most games

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  29. Eric Sykes:
    I haven’t checked out Owen’s prediction League but I checked others. Merse has us bottom on 2 points and Lawro has us bottom on 3 points. That seems a bit harsh considering the teams we have played.

    You can understand the rationale and reasoning sometimes when they go through it on a weekly basis, but when you look at the overall picture there does appear to be a bias against NUFC from certain pundits. I thought this would change with Rafa in charge because he is well liked and well respected, but it hasn’t.

    I don’t know why I am surprised, because Merson, in particular, is an idiot.

    Merson said 1-1 draws for us vs Hudds / Brighton / Stoke ?

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