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:
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.
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.
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?