Why NUFC’s next four games are key

Newcastle have started well, with ten points from our first seven games. This has put us in the top half and already a quarter of the way there to safety. Rafa and the team have to be congratulated on results so far; but as we know as Newcastle fans, we can’t get carried away.

Our next four games all look favourable ‘on paper’ and it is important to beat the teams around you to maintain momentum – especially given we’re due a particularly tough run after this set of fixtures.

Let’s look at our next run of games in more detail:

Southampton (A)

We travel to St. Mary’s on Sunday for yet another televised kick off. The home side look solid at the back but struggle going forward, similar to us in many ways. They have though failed to score in eight of their last nine home games, which really is a miserable record and one we’ll be looking to take advantage of. They lost 1-0 to Manchester United last time out at home, despite a battling display. New boss Mauricio Pellegrino is under pressure from fans by all accounts and being the slight underdog for the game may just play into our hands. Newcastle look solid away from home this season and a point would be solid return for the long trip south.

Crystal Palace (H)

After that sees us return to SJP to host lowly Crystal Palace. Palace have been dreadful this season, failing to score a single goal and losing all seven of their matches in the league. Panic has set in and they sacked summer appointment De Boer after just four games and turned to much maligned ex England boss, Roy Hodgson.  They have a striker crisis with Benteke out and have resorted to playing midfielders up there, clearly with little success. It will be an interesting return for Andros Townsend, whose career has again went backwards by the looks of things after leaving NUFC. It would be a big result for us to get three points from this one and arguably, if they lose their next game too, could push Palace closer to the Premier League trap door after just nine matches.



Burnley (A)

We then travel to Turf Moor to take on Sean Dyche’s side, who themselves have had a great start to the season. They have been a surprise package so far, beating Chelsea and Everton and getting draws with Spurs and Liverpool to find themselves in the top eight. They are a tough opposition at home and appear stronger this year despite selling key players like Andre Gray and Michael Keane this summer. A draw again would be a god result here for us, providing we beat Palace beforehand of course.

Bournemouth (H)

The final game in this run sees us host Bournemouth, who like Palace, are struggling. Eddie Howe has done a terrific job with them, but despite some impressive summer spending, they could be in for a tough year. I expect them to pick up, but given there poor start, it has to be seen as another good chance to get more points on the board. Bournemouth play expansive football so you’d think we’ll create chances on the break and hopefully a positive result before our first set of tough fixtures hit us.

Following these four games our fixtures include Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea between now and Christmas, with us also being set to play in-form sides such as Watford and West Brom, as well as Everton, Leicester and West Ham in our next 10 games – three teams who’ve struggled so far, but sides that are very capable nonetheless.

This really does emphasise the importance to get some good results from our ‘winnable’ next four games.

What would be a good points return?

I think we need to target at least six points from these games. They are teams who we are competing directly with this season and apart from Burnely, sides who are low on confidence, unlike us. I think seven points would be a good and realistic return and would put us on 17 points after 11 games; well ahead of schedule.

Football can change quickly as well all know, so it is vital we keep the feel good factor and continue to add to our points tally. The press are always waiting for another ‘crisis on Tyneside’ headline, so let’s keep collecting points while we are await positive takeover news hopefully.

How many points are you expecting from these next four matches?

(WE’RE LOOKING FOR CONTRIBUTORS! – 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 “Why NUFC’s next four games are key

  1. Stop changing the subject from Merson’s head. It looks like a 5 year old has drawn a face on a balloon!

    I will go 2 wins and 2 losses – 16. Rafa’s NUFC don’t seem to do draws.

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  2. Toon drew their last game!!dont do forecasts they come back and bite your ass,of coarse I want they not to lose

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  3. Now Southampton are definitely our bogey team. We have won 1 away game out of 16 in the PL, and that was in 2004. This is a different manager and a different team so it is time to break that hoodoo.

    2-1 NUFC. I think S’ton are due a goal at home. I am not superstitious at all I just think that streaks just don’t go on forever.

    But… just to be totally contradictory, here’s hoping Chelsea win on Saturday and Palace do not score. I really want them to go 8 played, 8 lost, no goals. I think they might get a goal though as, as I said, streaks don’t go on forever.

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  4. Mikel Merino signs a 5 year permanent deal! 👍👍👍😁 Surprised and well chuffed with that news!

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  5. Dubai thats an important signing in terms of showing good players that we have the pulling power to attract some of the best young talent on the Continent. I think Merino fits that bill.

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  6. Great news on Merino. I thought he had to play 20 games before we could sign him.

    Onto Sunday – first of all I’m just really glad to be back in the PL and to be able to watch all of the games, and for the first time in decades, look forward to the game without fear of a hammering. We might lose but it’ll probably be close. We’re not letting many in and they’re not scoring many. A draw’s a fair probability.

    7 points from the next four will keep me happy and I’ll still look forward to the ‘difficult’ games and who knows. Liverpool was one. 🙂

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  7. On Perez, I think it is simple, he is a squad player not a guaranteed starter. He is now making the excuse of him defending from the front for his lack of goals or assists. That is probably valid but if that is the case then why not start Merino as the number 10 which would allow Rafa to have his favourite combination of an attacking and defensive midfielder as well – Hayden and Shelvey.

    I don’t know where Merino plays for the Spanish U21s but he has a couple of goals.

    I don’t mind Perez but he has been knocked off the ball quite a few times meaning PL managers might have sussed him out. Play him against the Manchesters where his energy and running might help and where we probably won’t get out of our own half anyway. I think he had the most tackles of any NUFC player against Liverpool and he might be useful again in that type of game. In the long run though you cannot have non-scoring strikers so if he doesn’t get a goal or assist in his next few games he should become a bit part player.

    Hopefully this will all be moot when we sign a true number 10 in January. Don’t ask me who because the price for average players starts at 25 million, it seems. Hopefully, Rafa’s new and much vaunted transfer database will discover a gem. They are out there but few and far between.

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  8. BTW: some have suggested Shelvey as a number 10 but I don’t think that would work. He hardly ever gets in the box and only really takes speculative shots from outside the box which hardly ever go in unless you are Coutinho or Messi.

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  9. I think the team for Sunday could be the one that started against Liverpool, especially since most of our players had an international break. It depends on the injuries to Atsu and Ritchie. I would like to see Mitro on the bench though as I want a Plan B.

    I also want to see a bit more of Mitro in the PL. He bullied Spurs in that game when he was sent off and showed what he is capable of. It would be sad for us to sell him without him really getting a chance.

    I know that sums up Mitro, played really well and gets sent off. Other games are – was anonymous and got substituted!

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  10. Premandup:
    Didn’t Hesky make a career out of being a non-scoring striker for Rafa ?

    Yep, and Kuyt who was prolific in Holland. Another, but not for Rafa, was Kevin Davies. Hesky played more in the role that Joselu is now though didn’t he?

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  11. Prem: I also think that Heskey divided opinion on Merseyside, he certainly did for England. It was the obvious question which is what is being asked about Perez – why play a non-scoring striker, it puts so much pressure on the rest of the team.

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  12. The schedulers got lucky with Liverpool Man U as the first game after the International Break. Thank God it is over, and here is a final comment:

    The next International Break might actually be interesting because it is the playoffs. I sort of don’t mind that, it is the run-of-the-mill group games that disrupt the PL that annoy me.

    And England play Germany and Brasil. It is sort of a lose/lose except we will see some really good players. If England get slaughtered it will be a bit depressing, but if they do well it will start up the bandwagon and falsely get some to believe there is a chance at the World Cup.

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  13. It is quiet on here again so I will bitch about Keys and Gray. They just had John Cross (Chief Sports writer of The Daily Mirror and Uber Arsenal fan) on and he and the hosts said they were thinking Everton might sack Koeman. Cross and Keys had them to finish 4th. Now let’s think about it. That would mean that 3 of the top 6 from last year would have to fail. They all have managers in the top 10 in the world, just think, Guardiola, Mourinho, Conte, Klopp, Wenger, Pochettino. Maybe not Poch but he is always talked about as possible for one of the really big clubs now like Barca, Madrid and PSG.

    I mean, these people get paid to talk about football and cannot apply simple logic. You may point to Leicester, but that is a massive outlier in what usually happens and the Top six took note of that and have spent a fortune, not only on players, but on Managers.

    I could see it. How come these people who have spent their lives in the game and made bloody good livings at it cannot? Don’t they go to these golf events and such where the punditocracy may point out that maybe Everton were not buying the real top quality that last year’s top six were. Couldn’t they see that swapping a Lukaku for a Potato would not work?

    There was a sort of group think going on where everybody on TV and in the papers said Everton had “won the transfer window” so therefore would push on. Push on to where? The top 6 had actually spent as much as them and were starting from a higher base. They just didn’t look at the facts. This is why I get mad sometimes at pundits and not just the idiots like Merson. They all do it and especially for the teams they played for or support.

    And talking about predictions. Do Merse and Lawro really think a Rafa Benitez team would be bottom? That flies in the face of everything he has done in football Management.

    Sorry, I was just watching Keys and Gray and they are hypocritical ego-stroking idiots. It is almost painful to watch sometimes the way they suck up to their guests.

    They had Peytar Reid on.

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  14. Reid’s autobiography is called “Cheer up Peter”. I don’t know if that is self-deprecating or if he is just too stupid to get that it was an insult 🙂

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  15. kimtoon: He is a marked man in so far as PL refs are concerned Eric that’s why.

    More like Serbia play in a pub league and it is easier to score goals and look good. He is not constantly put under pressure like he is in the PL, so he does not get worked up and has more time to put the ball in the net.

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  16. shamrock: More like Serbia play in a pub league and it is easier to score goals and look good. He is not constantly put under pressure like he is in the PL, so he does not get worked up and has more time to put the ball in the net.

    In that case you would think that Harry Kane would do better for England than he had in his last 2 PL seasons when he has actually done a lot worse. And England have been in the ultimate pub league qualifying groups and probably the easiest group at the Euros. Jordan Henderson should at least have a goal in his 35 appearances given the opposition.

    I think you make a bit of a valid point Sham, just couldn’t resist using it as a stick to beat England players with.

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  17. I don’t want to get all psychology but there is a reason these pundits and writers all get stuck in the same opinions. Think about footballers. they have been in the same environment talking to like people since they were 8 years old. If they make it pro they are with the same people for another 15 years and then when they retire they to the golf, the horsies or public speaking engagements. They start to think and act alike, especially if they get TV or radio gigs as well.

    It is sort of like a clique of teenage girls. They all start to dress and talk alike and do their hair the same. They are stuck in this mode even if you take them away from it to say a family gathering.

    The writers are the same. They basically talk to the players and each other. Look at the Chronic. Most of the articles are the same and written with identical sentence structures and terminology. Ryder is the worst because he uses exactly the same template and words for all articles. Apart from the fact that they are all men I would think their periods would be synching up like college students in a sorority.

    Of course, I could be wrong and it could all be explained by Merse and Lawro just being complete [email protected]

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  18. ERIC i really like Bein Sports but as i said before i put the tv on mute when they start their crap they spoil a good sports show as sometimes they get a good guest on

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  19. Of course there are a few outliers. Roy Keane is just a total curmudgeon and says what he likes. Souness is a bit the same but he usually toes the party line but is just a bit more grumpy than most. Then there are a few like Robbie Savage who would be a total irrelevance if they didn’t say something controversial, but he changes his tune like the weather anyway.

    I am noticing that The Chrinic and blogs have finally noticed the bias and hypocrisy and are doing a sort of Pundit Watch now.

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  20. icedog:
    ERIC i really like Bein Sports but as i said before i put the tv on mute when they start their crap they spoil a good sports show as sometimes they get a good guest on

    I watch it and some of the guests and topics are interesting. Keys and Gray are not stupid either, is the fact that they are total arselickers that gets to me.

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  21. I was wondering how we ended up with Merino and how he couldn’t get in Dortmund’s side? So I looked at their squad and these are the midfielders I know, and there are others:

    Nuri Sahin
    Mario Gotze
    Schurrle
    Pulisic (probably best US talent in 15 years)
    Kagawa

    They also had Dembele who they sold to Barcelona for 95 million.

    No wonder Merino couldn’t get in their team. There is always the thought of how could they let him go when he appears to be this good? Coz Dortmund have probably the best young talent in Europe along with Real Madrid and I am sure a 21 year old Spanish U21 International didn’t want to sit on the bench another year.

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  22. So we have bought Merino. Great signing. He’s a player with huge potential. Although something tells me that has probably halved our budget for January.

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  23. If you haven’t seen the True Geordie interview with Shearer you should look it up on youtube. It is very recent, probably the last week and is bout 2 hours long.

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  24. Liverpool are doing to Man U what they did to us last week. Tons of possession but a lot of shots from outside. Man U trying to play on the break. Shows you we didn’t do too badly if one of the favourites for the PL who have spent like 500 million the last 3 years are using the same tactics.

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  25. The Chronic are saying there might be interest from China. The good news is that it is not their reporting and they are quoting a football takeover expert’s interview on The Totally Football podcast, which is the brainchild of James Richardson who used to do the Guardian podcast.

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  26. Well the guys on 5live have just made an interesting observation/point. That Man utd are one of the big 6 PL sides that feel they should be getting more overseas tv money than the so called smaller , lesser PL clubs based on their entertainment value. Having just watched them play against Liverpool, you would have to say that’s a bold statement.

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  27. Eric Sykes:
    If you haven’t seen the True Geordie interview with Shearer you should look it up on youtube. It is very recent, probably the last week and is bout 2 hours long.

    Was of the same thought mate.

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  28. Eric Sykes:
    Liverpool are doing to Man U what they did to us last week. Tons of possession but a lot of shots from outside. Man U trying to play on the break. Shows you we didn’t do too badly if one of the favourites for the PL who have spent like 500 million the last 3 years are using the same tactics.

    meant to quote this one not the true Geordie post 🙄

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  29. Kimtoon: even if you do not care for the True Geordie it is a great interview and they let Shearer do most of the talking. It is a trip down memory lane all the way back to where he went for a trial at Southampton as a 13 year old. I have never seen Shearer open up like this and gives me a new respect for the True Geordie who has gone from just ranting. Shearer was obviously enjoying himself as well because it went on for about 2 hours.

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