Newcastle United Premier League Preview
Players In: Vurnon Anita, Romain Amalfitano, Gael Bigirimana
Players Out: Leon Best, Alan Smith, Peter Lovenkrands, Fraser Forster, Daniel Taylor, Danny Guthrie
After last season’s success it is hard to predict what will be in store for Newcastle this season. The personnel are largely the same and the manager has had another pre-season to instil his ideas further. Whether they can produce the same success with the same players is open to doubt and the loss of form of Demba Ba after January was tidily covered up by the emergence of Papiss Cisse.
A lot will depend on these two strikers to score the goals as there is relatively little support behind. Towards the end of last season Hatem Ben Arfa was showing the promise that led to rumours of a move to Manchester United a few years ago and he will need to keep that form for a lot longer this season. Cabaye and Tiote are rocks at the heart of their midfield and Anita should prove an able replacement for the departed and dependable Danny Guthrie.
Newcastle United may look no weaker than they did last season but is unlikely they will scale the same heights again. In 2011/2012 they managed to come fifth with a goal difference of only +5 which was worse than the three teams below them. Nearly half of their wins were by a single goal and with lady luck shining the other way the season could have panned out very differently.
First game analysis:
Newcastle were under the kosh in the first 45 on Saturday, but after reverting to the 4-3-3 system with Ba out on the left wing, the Magpies were good value for a 2-1 win. The return of Steven Taylor is a boost, as is the sight of Krul, Tiote, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Cisse and Ba still plying their trade at St James Park. If Newcastle can keep hold of these star names and bring in a sub striker they could push Everton and Liverpool close.
Chelsea and Liverpool both look stronger and more focused than last year whilst Everton have also strengthened in the right areas so it is hard to see them finishing any higher than 8th. It would be fantastic to be proved wrong by Alan Pardew and his men but it’s more than likely the added pressure and exertion of playing in Europe will see them drop out for next year.
Prediction: 8th (with a good cup run)