NUFC: the month ahead

Newcastle have a kind fixture list over the next month and it represents a great opportunity for Rafa Benitez’s men to get some serious points on the board ahead of a gruelling winter. The Magpies have started the season pretty well and sit in the giddy heights of ninth place, with 10 points from seven games. They have a chance to really build on that in their next four fixtures against Southampton, Crystal Palace, Burnley and Bournemouth. Those are all winnable games for Newcastle and with the exception of Burnley all are struggling for form. Sterner tests lie ahead, with fixtures against Man Utd and Chelsea on the horizon, so it is imperative that Rafa Benitez’s men take a strong points haul from their four upcoming games.

They should be full of confidence following that 1-1 draw with the mighty Liverpool before the international break. Benitez said 10 points was a decent tally, but insisted it should have been more and he is correct. Defeats against Huddersfield and Brighton were really disappointing as the Magpies won at both those grounds in the Championship last season. They need to improve their form against the league’s smaller teams and Crystal Palace, Burnley and Bournemouth certainly fit into that category.

But first up it is an away day at Southampton, and Newcastle are the huge underdogs. Check out reviews of betting websites to find the best price available, and you will get a whopping 16/5 on an away win. That seems strange as Southampton’s form has been patchy and they find themselves below Newcastle in the table following their 2-1 defeat against Stoke last time out. Saints are a decent outfit, however, especially if Virgil Van Dijk is back in the side, and a point would be a good result at St Mary’s. But Southampton have won just won of their four home games this season, drawn one and lost two, so the Mags could even take all three points back to the North East.

Next up is Crystal Palace at home and that is a must win game. Palace have been dreadful this season and are bottom of the table, with zero points and zero goals scored. Of course, it is also a must win for the Eagles as they are in serious trouble. Roy Hodgson was parachuted in to rescue them and his first four games were daunting – Tottenham, Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea – so he will have looked at the Newcastle game as the first real opportunity to start racking up some points. The Mags cannot let that happen. They will be facing a dispirited and demoralised team low on confidence and they need to be ruthless. After the four fixtures against Southampton, Palace, Burnley and Bournemouth, Newcastle have a really tricky run of their own. They play Man Utd and then face Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City in December, so they need points before that.

Burnley away is an extremely tough fixture and Sean Dyche’s men will start as favourites in that one. Burnley have beaten Chelsea and drawn with Liverpool and Tottenham this season, so that shows how well organised they are. But they did lose 1-0 at home to West Brom and draw 0-0 at home with Huddersfield, suggesting that Turf Moor is not the fortress it was last season and that Burnley struggle against some of them smaller clubs. Again a point would be good and all three would be brilliant.

Finally Bournemouth head to St James’s Park and that really should be a win for the home side. Eddie Howe’s men have started the season in dreadful form and are marooned in the relegation zone. They are a team that like to play football and that leaves them exposed to be killed off. Eight points from four games would be a strong haul and stand the team in good stead for the winter months.

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