After an NUFC-free weekend, the ‘Opposition Opinion’ returns with some thoughts from Lancashire ahead of tonight’s Monday night football clash with Burnley at Turf Moor.
As ever, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before tonight’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own club and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been speaking to Burnley fans Nick and Adam, who’ve had the following to say ahead of our date with Sean Dyche’s high flying Burnley tonight:
Q1) What have you made of your season so far? I’m keen to know what sort of shape you feel you’re in ahead of tonight’s game.
“Absolutely delighted with the start of the season to be honest. Couldn’t have expected anymore.
“I would’ve expected a lot fewer points on the board. Especially after selling Keane but Tarkowski has been immense and Defour has too. Our start has been even more impressive considering who we’ve had to play.
“Considering our disappointing away return last season, to win at Chelsea and Everton and take points from trips to Liverpool and Spurs has probably shocked even the most optimistic of Burnley supporters. Our away form has picked up a lot but in turn, our home form has dropped.
“Saying all of that, I’d still say our main aim is survival.”
Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as our threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit?
“I’m impressed with your start too. Equally surprising given the lack of quality additions that were expected over the summer.
“There’s a feeling that you haven’t had the most difficult of starts to the season, but you still have to get the results.
“From what I’ve seen you’re similar to ourselves – well organised. I’d say your best player is Ritchie – who can create a chance from nothing.
“Then there’s Lascelles who is just a real nuisance at both ends of the field. He’s just always there whether it’s putting in a match saving block or heading in a a match winning goal. He really is a player no one wants to face up against.
“We tend to struggle with anyone with genuine speed so Atsu could be a threat.
“As for weaknesses? Your overall passing ability is dreadful and there have been some serious lapses of concentration in recent games. We can certainly exploit that and look to pounce on any errors you make.
“Shelvey’s temperament is also a weak spot.”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your Burnley side – any players to watch out for on Monday night?
“Our massive strength is defending. Some games it looks as if we could defend all night and not concede.
“Also, our work ethic is something to be proud of. We might not be the best technically but just run and run and run which helps us in causing upsets.
“Our strongest players are the main line from Mee and Tarkowski (defence), through to Defour and Cork (midfield) and Chris Wood up top.
“James Tarkowski is receiving all the plaudits so far this season and deservedly so considering the shoes he had to fill after Michael Keane’s inevitable departure.
“Ben Mee often gets overlooked. He is a solid old fashioned centre half who wears his heart on his sleeve, but has been known to make the odd costly error.
“Personally, I think the player you might have to watch is Steven Devour. The guy oozes class and is potentially a match winner.
“Our weakest player is probably Lowton at right-back, or our reserve goalkeeper Pope who obviously isn’t as good as Heaton.
“Another weakness has to be our lack of pace. Not one of our players is all that quick which does get very frustrating for the fans. Pace is really something we need to invest in in January.”
Q4) How do you see the match panning out? Score Prediction?
“I can only see the odd goal in this one. Neither side scores many and both have good defences.”
Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Newcastle
Q5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Predictions for rough league position?
“Hopefully you’ll invest in the right places in January and with Rafa’s stewardship you’ll finish top half or mid table.
“I think for us keeping Dyche is key with all these managerial casualties. Other teams are underperforming so if that continues then there’s no reason why we won’t finish mid table too. Especially if Heaton is back sooner rather than later.”
Q6) If you could make a combined XI from the two squads, what would yours be?
“(3-5- 2) Heaton – Lascelles, Mee, Tarkowski – Ritchie, Cork, Shelvey, Defour, Brady – Gayle, Wood.”
Some interesting comments here. Two sides who have overachieved so far this season based on our resources going into the season, however it is fair to say that Burnley have had the tougher fixtures – making their strong start all the more impressive.
Intriguing that neither of them chose Merino in their combined XI! Both were big fans of Ritchie however – which is understandable given how they’ve grown to appreciate real grafters and team players at Burnley.
A game of few goals is anticipated by both also – which is hard to argue with given our attacking limitations and defensive strengths.
As ever, we thank both Burnley fans Nick and Adam for taking the time to speak to us, giving us an enjoyable read to whet our appetite for tonight’s game.
We’ll be back later this week with the thoughts of a Bournemouth fan ahead of our clash with Eddie Howe’s side at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Here’s hoping for another three points tonight– HWTL!