It only feels like yesterday that the top leagues of European Soccer were playing their final games of the regular season. Fans were praying for a miracle so their favorite teams can stay up, while others were already rejoicing at the season ending. The English Premier League starts in ten days, and we have twenty teams vying for that final day celebration so they can lift the trophy, and immortalize themselves in history. Along with the seventeen teams that stayed up from the 2016-17 season, we have some newcomers in Brighton, Newcastle United and Huddersfield. Over the next eleven days, we will preview every Premier League team this season. Today, we look at one of the team who were a staple of the Premier League for a while, but then dropped down after a poor 2014/15 campaign. Well, they came back with a bang in the Championship and got promoted on the first try back… Let’s look at Newcastle United.
In all honesty, could last season have gone any better for Newcastle? The first two weeks of the season didn’t go so well, but that was the push they needed to get out of the starting blocks, as they went unbeaten from the end of August through to the end of November, losing to Blackburn 1-0. In fact, Blackburn was the only team that the Magpies didn’t score against or get points off of. Despite having secured automatic promotion a good month ahead of schedule, Newcastle needed a win at Barnsley, and for Brighton to draw or lose to Aston Villa in order to win the league. Newcastle won convincingly, and Brighton could only manage a 1-1 draw to hand the Magpies their first piece of silverware since the Championship win of 09/10.
NEW SIGNINGS – (Courtesy of Sky Sports)
It’s been a relatively busy period for Rafa Benitez over the summer transfer window, with Newcastle bringing in six players so far, while letting six others go. Benitez looked to Spain for defensive reinforcements, signing Javi Manquillo and Florian Lejeune from Atletico Madrid and Eibar respectively. Manquillo was seemingly a loan until sell kind of player for Atletico, being loaned out to Liverpool, Marseille and Sunderland before this move. Manquillo has the experience of the Premier League though, playing 15 games for Sunderland last year, notching his only goal against Chelsea.
Lejeune was key at the back for Eibar, playing 33 league games for the squad with an average rating of 7, so he should adjust well to the Premier League. Jacob Murphy has come in from Norwich City, having only played in two senior games for the Canaries in the FA Cup. However, he has plenty of upside under the right manager, and Benitez should get the best out of the 22-year old midfielder. Stefan O’Connor was on Arsenal’s books until June, so it isn’t much of a surprise that he has been picked up as a depth signing.
O’Connor did spend some time in the Dutch second division last year, so the defender may very well see a few games on the bench for the first team. Josef Yarney came on board after spending time in Everton’s academy system, so expect the defender to spend some time getting accustomed to the team before we see him in the first team. Christian Atsu also came in on a permanent basis, after Newcastle decided to buy the striker from Chelsea, after racking up 5 goals in 32 games for the Magpies last year. The Ghanaian international will look to make a big impact in the Premier League this year.
It’s a nasty first game against Tottenham, although it is at St James Park, so anything could happen there. It isn’t the worst draw in the world until you reach December, where it becomes really rough, really quickly. Chelsea (A), Leicester (H), Everton (H), Arsenal (A), West Ham (A), Manchester City (H), all back-to-back. That quite possible is the worst month to have, especially in December, where it could make or break a campaign. However, if there is a team that can get through that month with some good results, it is Newcastle United. They have the players to make a deep run into the season, it’s just whether it ends up happening or not.
One of two things will happen, and it is the same with Huddersfield. Newcastle will get dropped straight, or they will have a good run and pressure the top half of the field. In Newcastle’s case, they make the top half of the ladder. I’m not yet confident enough to say they will pressure for a Europa spot, however I can’t say I would be surprised. Expect Gayle to continue his great form into the Premier League, and for Newcastle to turn some heads.
Predicted Finish – 8th
Top Scorer – Dwight Gale
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