It’s that time of the week again. The ‘Opposition Opinion’ is back, with us getting some thoughts from down south ahead of today’s crucial clash with Brighton.
As always with this piece, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before this week’s game, chatting to an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own side and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been speaking to Brighton fan Scott (from WeAreBrighton.com), with him having the following to say ahead of their trip to St James’ Park:
Q1 – What short of shape are you guys in coming into this game? What have you made of your start to the new season and your form on the road in particular?
“We faced last seasons top four in our first seven games which was always going to be tough, so the five points we took from those games was about par. Having said that, it could’ve been more.“Chris Hughton threw on a couple of attackers away at Southampton when we were 2-0 down and we hammered them for the final 20 minutes to rescue a point. It was a similar story at home to Fulham and Spurs struggled to deal with us in the second half at the Amex when they escaped with a 2-1 win.“There’s a feeling that when we go forward and attack, we can be a real threat, but we don’t do it nearly enough. That also explains why we’ve won only two away games in the Premier League and scored just 12 goals.
“If we were a little more positive, we could be top 10 candidates.”
Q2 – Do you see yourselves as possible relegation candidates? At the moment, us NUFC fans are quite worried as it’s hard to see a side worse than us outside of Cardiff and Huddersfield..
“I think anyone outside of the top six is relegation candidates, it’s such a tight league.“We should have enough to survive, but there are a couple of potential problems on the horizon. One is that for however good we may look going forward at times, we’re still solely reliant on Glenn Murray for goals. If he should get injured, suspended or age catches up with him then we won’t have enough goals to survive.“The other issue on the horizon that nobody outside of Brighton has picked up on is that we’re going to lose Matty Ryan for potentially seven games in the new year when he is off to the Asian Cup with Australia.
“Pascal Gross took most of the plaudits last season, but Ryan earned us about 10-12 points. Not having him for a chunk of the season could be devastating.”
Q3 – Who are the strengths and weaknesses in your current side? Any ‘ones to watch’ (for good or for bad) that us NUFC fans wouldn’t know about from watching you on Match of the Day?
“Last seasons undoubted strength was our defence but we’ve looked a bit ropey at the back this season.“Lewis Dunk has been out of form, not helped by being rushed back from injury. Having said that, we kept a clean sheet in a dogged display last time out against West Ham so hopefully that signals a return to form.“Our two central midfielders, Davy Propper and Dale Stephens, don’t get nearly as much credit as they deserve. They are the sort of workhorses who you only notice their importance when they aren’t there.“The good news for you guys is that Stephens missed the West Ham game injured and Propper left the Amex on crutches having been subbed with 10 minutes remaining.
“If both of those are missing, I’d rank our chances of winning at St James’ Park close to zero.”
Q4 – Who do you see as the strengths and weaknesses in Newcastle’s side?
“Jonjo Shelvey is the sort of horrible little runt that every opposition fan hates but would love to have in their team.“From what I saw of him last season, Martin Dubravka is a bit like Ryan in that he is very underrated.
“Your biggest strength has to be Rafa the Gaffer though. He’s easily in the top five managers in the country so it’s testament to what Newcastle means and the potential at the club that you’ve still got him despite the circus in the boardroom.“As for weaknesses, you are a bit like us in that you don’t score enough goals. I couldn’t actually name who your main striker is this season without reverting to Soccerbase, let alone who your top scorer is and that coupled with our (hopefully) tight defence means it will probably be a very low scoring game.“There must also be a lack of confidence given the fact you threw away a 2-0 lead against a poor Manchester United side last time out and that you have lost every home game so far this season.“Having said that, we have a spectacularly good record at being a club who can end those horrible little runs – in 2014-15, we managed to be the the first side Birmingham had beaten at home in 11 months when we lost 1-0 at St Andrews and then ended Wigan’s nine month run without a win at home with a 2-1 defeat at the DW. So if there is a club you are likely to end a winless run against, it’s bound to be Brighton.”
Q5 – What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? Score prediction?
“We’ll come and settle for a point, undoubtedly.
“Most of our away games against sides around us end in a stalemate so I’d go for 1-1.”
Q6 – Quite a few of us NUFC fans were disappointed to see Jamaal Lascelles miss out on the England squad AGAIN after James Tarkowski’s withdrawal. As we know, Brighton’s Lewis Dunk got the nod as a result. Do you honestly think he’s better than Lascelles and more worthy of a call up?
“I was actually surprised Dunk got the call up this time as he hasn’t been at his best so far this season. That being said, his form last year was outstanding and his ability on the ball means that he also fits in with the way Gareth Southgate seemingly wants to play going forward.“I don’t think there is much between the two of them both in terms of age and ability, so it’s difficult to know why Dunk got the nod – perhaps because he has more experience than Lascelles in terms of games played in his career?
“I was hoping he’d get some minutes as a Brighton player playing for England hasn’t happened in my lifetime!”
Q7 – If you could sign one player from this NUFC side, who would you like to see Chris Hughton go for?
“Dubravka could sort our goalkeeping issue for January while Ryan is away!
“I’ve always liked the look of Kenedy so we could take him permanently and Dubravka on loan for a month?!”
Q8 – Finally, if you had our two squads to choose from and were asked to pick the best possible side, what would you starting 11 be?
“Christ, that’s a difficult question!“I’d have to go with three at the back to fit in Dunk, Lascelles and Shane Duffy. Ryan in goal. Kenedy, Mohamed Diame, Shelvey, Propper, Anthony Knockaert across midfield. You seem to lack strikers even more than us, so Murray up top with Gross just behind.”