Mid-Season(ish) Report

Originally a forum thread by Yacob

We are 22 matches into the Premier League season (the Watford TFI results are not in as of writing) and there still a lot of unknowns surrounding us as a club. Is Steve McClaren the right man for the long term? Will Aleksandar Mitrović be a success? And will Rolando Aarons ever stay fit longer than two weeks?

It’s been a disappointing start to the season, but there have definitely been positives and if we look at this coaching set up as a long term strategy, we could accept a relegation fight this season for future successes. Although that is a huge if, given that McClaren hasn’t delivered stability since his days at Middlesbrough.

How have we fared?

We have been a lot worse than last season in the league, when we had 27 points at this stage, compared to the 21 we have now. We were safely positioned in mid table last season, while we are in the relegation zone currently. Although we are only six points behind last year’s tally, there are a lot fewer teams down the bottom of the table. At this time last year, six points separated 12th to 20th, compared to this year, when the gap is much larger, meaning that realistically only six teams are in the relegation battle.

In the cups, we have once again disappointed, despite the club stating that we would be targeting the competitions for success. A really disappointing defeat in the Capital One Cup to Sheffield Wednesday should have been avoided had we played a stronger side, while we had a narrow defeat to Watford in the FA Cup, which leaves the club extending their run without a trophy. Steve McClaren said that we will be better in the cups under him, and although it’s early days, the first impressions are not great.

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Preview: Watford vs Newcastle Utd – 23/01/16

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Yacob

We are facing Watford for the third time this season and we are yet to avoid defeat against the newly promoted side. They beat us 2-1 at St James’ Park thanks to a brace from Odion Ighalo, while a Troy Deeney strike was enough to knock us out of the FA Cup. It is a winnable fixture for us and we were arguably the better side in the FA Cup, but the lack of quality in front of goal (what else?) was to blame for our cup exit. If we play similarly this weekend, we will have a great chance of victory as Watford have looked poor lately, with Swansea easily beating them on Monday night. There is an outside chance that Watford could be dragged into the relegation fight, especially if we take the three points this weekend.

This week, we have failed to make any new signings, which the club was expecting. This leaves us with the same squad of players we had last week, but the injuries to Paul Dummett and Jack Colback leave us slightly short defensively. Left back has been a problematic position for the club this season, and with Haïdara, Dummett, Mbabu, Anita and Colback all unavailable, we will have to field a makeshift left back, with Janmaat, Lascelles, Aarons and Sterry all possible options for Steve McClaren. It would be a risk to move Janmaat across, considering he has been one of our best players at right back and he should probably continue there this weekend.

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Preview: Newcastle Utd vs West Ham Utd – 16/01/16

Click here to go to the discussion thread by TJR

Friends Steve McClaren and Slaven Bilić face each other for only the second time since Croatia beat England 3-2 at Wembley to qualify for the European Championships at England’s expense, costing Steve McClaren his job. The other head to head was the reverse fixture of today’s game, earlier in the season. Dimitri Payet ran the show that day and scored both goals in a 2-0 win for the Hammers. Today Payet is once again expected to be the main threat to our defence.

West Ham signed Payet from Olympique de Marseille in a £10.7m deal at the start of the season. Payet has hit the ground running in the Premier League proving to be an integral part of West Hams success. The Hammers have won 57.1% of matches he’s played while they’ve only won 14.3% of games he’s missed. Payet is without doubt a strong contender for Premier League signing of the season.

Payet’s former team-mate Thauvin also swapped Marseille for the Premier League at the start of the season. Newcastle signed him in a deal worth £12m + Remy Cabella on loan with a view to a permanent deal. Thauvin’s start to Premier League life has been the complete opposite to Payet’s. Thauvin has struggled to adapt and has failed to break into the Newcastle team with rumours of a return to France for him in this transfer window.

If Payet is a strong contender for signing of the season, Thauvin is without a doubt strong contender for flop of the season. Graham Carr and Lee Charnley definitely signed the wrong Marseille man.

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Preview: Arsenal vs Newcastle Utd – 02/01/16

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cal

After earning just 30 points from 38 league games in 2015, Newcastle kick-off what will hopefully be a more successful 2016 at the Emirates against the league leaders, who for comparison took home 81 points over the same period. So we’ll probably start the year as we ended the last one, with yet another loss.

At the half-way point of the season, we’re currently 18th with 17 points from 19 games, two points short of Swansea / safety. Arsenal top the table on goal difference over Leicester, both of whom are on 39 points.

“It’s definitely one of our biggest tests of the season. They (Arsenal) have had some injuries but they’re still maintaining their form and getting results. At this stage, I’d say they’re certainly favourites for the title – but it’s only half-time. But I believe in the squad that we have. They’ve shown already that they can compete with some of the biggest sides in the league and I expect them to put in a performance this weekend.”
– Steve McClaren

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