They went down, came back up, and are once again sitting pretty in the top half of the top league in English football, if not the world. Newcastle United, under the guidance of Rafa Benitez and the re-invigorated attack from when we last saw them in the Premier League, have won three out of their last six.
They have finished in draws against Liverpool and Southampton, with only the loss at Brighton showing any real blemishes. Newcastle brought in a few players that had question marks over whether they could really make an impact in the Premier League, however, with nearly a quarter of the season gone, we have been proven wrong. Without any further hesitations, let’s get into the season so far and look at the players who have helped Newcastle rack up the points on the field.
Most Influential – Matt Ritchie/Jamaal Lascelles
Matt Ritchie has been the heart of the Newcastle side since coming from Bournemouth during the summer of 2016. Ritchie has been in superb form around the middle of the park, with his best game against Stoke City on matchday 4 of the EPL season.
Ritchie set up two goals, including the winner for Lascelles as Newcastle beat Stoke 2-1. Although he has been quiet since that game in terms of goals and assists, no one can deny his ability to turn around a game with one touch of the ball.
Jamaal Lascelles has almost been Newcastle’s best player all season. Always solid in the heart of defence, the centre back also has two goals to his name, both being match-winners against Stoke City and Swansea. The 23-year old was recently rewarded with a new contract over the next six years, as well as an England call-up, showing how well he has performed so far this season. With how he has been playing so far this season, it is hard to see too many teams putting more than Southampton’s two in a game past Newcastle this year.
Best Signing – Christian Atsu
I beg anyone who wants to differ on this pick to speak now, or forever hold your peace. Atsu was with Newcastle last year on loan and absolutely smoked it in the Championship, which led to the Magpies forking out the best part of seven million for the Ghanaian international.
After coming up with Newcastle, he has been at the very worst, a solid man on the right side of the field. At his best, he is a left midfielder who can charge into the heart of a defense and rip it out. He may only have the one goal against Stoke and the one assist against West Ham, but he has, and will always be an attacking threat for the Magpies as long as he is a part of the club.
The season so far
It has not been a bad start to the season by any stretch of the imagination. Newcastle definitely had a poor first two games, however, they have hit back with only one loss out of their last seven games. Joselu, Atsu, Ritchie and Lascelles have all been fantastic, while Rob Elliot has been an unsung hero for the club. The goalkeeper has an average of less than one goal conceded every game.
That amount has only been bettered by Hugo Lloris, Nick Pope, David De Gea and Tom Heaton. Out of those four goalkeepers, two are from the same team. What does that tell you? The back four and the goalkeeper have been in elite form, as have the rest of the squad. If this keeps going, Newcastle is in for a great comeback season.
They are the best placed of the three promoted teams in the league, and are only two points outside the top five. Newcastle has some of the best team chemistry you’ll see within an EPL team this season, containing a manager who stood by the side of the team when they went down, and brought them straight back up.
Most importantly, the fan base of Newcastle has managed to stick through thick and thin to support their team. With the potential of another owner coming up soon, the Magpies can look forward to some incredible times coming up in the league. Let’s just hope that it is the third time lucky for Mike Ashley to sell Newcastle United.
In the pre-season review in regards to Newcastle, I claimed they would finish somewhere around ninth place. I still think that is where they will end up, however, I would not be surprised if they were pushing for a Europa League spot at the end of the season.
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