After the disapointment of losing their opening two Championship ties, Newcastle have bounced back in emphatic fashion, crafting out 4 league victories on the bounce and climbing up to 2nd spot in the process. Reading, Bristol City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Derby County have all fallen at the sword to Rafa Benitez’ men, who only have Huddersfield Town above them in the table.
‘Professional’ is the ideal word to describe Newcastle’s season thus far. The Toon Army feared for the worst after losing their opening two fixtures to Fulham and Huddersfield, but theyve quickly turned things around and now the excitement and positivity is back ringing around the City. They’ve managed to score 6 goals in the last 2 leagues fixtures at home, bagging 4 against Reading and 2 against Brighton, while scoring 3 away. The fans might not have been jumping for joy over the performances, but at this point in time, the 3 points from each tie are more important than playing irresistable Football. With that being said, Newcastle are morphing into a side that are incredibly difficult to break down and beat on their day- this new look Newcastle side are proving to their Manager that they are more than capable of pushing for a Premier League place and they demonstrated that against Derby County in Saturday’s late kick off.
The tie at the iPro Stadium wasn’t pretty- but Mat Sels looked comfortable in goal and the back 4 of Paul Dummett, Chancel Mbemba, Jemal Lascelles and Vurnon Anita are gelling nicely, with the defensive line handling County with ease and clocking up 4 cleansheets in a row. It’s also worth noting that the former Sunderland player, Jack Colback has looked in fine form shielding them nicely, working tirelessly for his team, breaking up play and helping his midfield partner Jonjo Shelvey dictate play from the middle of the park. The fans and Benitez alike are really starting to favour Shelvey, who seems to be proving that he’s one of the most talented and efficient Footballers Newcastle United currently have under contract. The Englishman faced many critics in the last league campaign but he’s certainly on the right path this season, evening managing to grab his first goal for the club against Brighton at St James’ Park before the September International break.
There’s still issues within the squad however, new summer signings such as Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie have both been in decent form but have yet to really step up out of 2nd gear. Gayle has at times looked extremely isolated up top playing in the lone striker role, especially away from home, while Ritchie has found himself drifting in and out of games. Maybe both are struggling to adapt to life in the Championship, but it’s safe to say with more training sessions and minutes on the pitch, both will produce the goods as they become more accustomed with the players and tactics of the Manager.
The next few fixtures for Benitez’ men look testing to say the least. They face a long trip to London before hosting the same team in the space of 3 days in the League and then League Cup- after that, they face the two other sides that were relegated from the Premier League last term alongside Newcastle themselves.
- Queens Park Rangers (A)
- Wolverhampton Wanders (H)
- Wolverhampton Wanders (H)
- Aston Villa (A)
- Norwich (H)
QPR and Aston Villa certainly seem to be the trickier of the ties, espeically with both games being away from home. Many fans will be hoping to at least a point at both games, but the more optimistic fan will be wanting all 3.