All posts by Cal

I'm the editor of this blog and the admin of the forum it's attached to. When I'm not busy with these, I work in games.

Preview: Newcastle Utd vs Sunderland – 20/03/16

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Perhaps the most important Tyne-Wear derby of all-time takes place at St James’ this Sunday; a relegation battle six-pointer between the sides in 18th and 19th as we enter the final stretch of the season.

Following an encouraging performance against league leaders Leicester days after taking over, Rafa Benítez will be hoping to take part in the recent trend of newly appointed managers getting a Tyne-Wear derby win in their second game. We’ve not been victorious in a derby since August 2011, and Sunderland have won the last six.

“I am sure that we can win this game and that will give the players belief going forward into the next games. Every game is different and a derby is a derby, so anything can happen. The players know this but they also know how important it is that we win.

“The main thing now is that they stick together. They are committed and working very hard to try and understand our ideas of what we want to do. They are trying their best and that is the main reason why I’m so positive.”
– Rafa Benítez

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

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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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Preview: Tottenham vs Newcastle Utd – 13/12/15

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This Sunday sees Newcastle travel to Spurs’ White Hart Lane hoping to repeat last week’s shock to steal a fourth win of the season.

However the chances of back to back results are extremely slim considering that Pochettino’s side have not lost a league game since their season opener against Manchester United, and there shouldn’t be any signs of a Europa League hangover — Tottenham were already through before Thursday’s fixture, allowing a number of key players to be rested as Spurs still defeated Monaco with ease (4-1).

Although they have conceded in five of their last six, the Tottenham defence is the second tightest in the league, allowing just 12 goals in over 15 games. By comparison, Newcastle leak an average of two goals per game, a feat only matched by fellow strugglers’ Sunderland.

We currently top the relegation zone on 13 points, only a win will grant us an escape by dragging us up to 14th or 15th, depending on goal difference. A draw will put us level on points with two two sides above us, Swansea and Norwich, but our inferior goal difference will keep us in the danger zone. A loss will only further damage our goal difference with no immediate impact on the table, although it would put Tottenham into fourth place.

“We need to follow (Liverpool) up at White Hart Lane. We need to put in a performance if we are to get anything. We have been reiterating what we did against Liverpool and what we need to do to give a good performance against Spurs. We had a terrible run of two games, so it’s important we get back to where we were at before the international break. The players were on form and the crowd were on form (against Liverpool) – we need to follow that up at Spurs.

“One of the key ingredients is that you have to out-run your opponent and put the effort in. It’s no coincidence that when you do that, the crowd get behind you and you get results.

“When you lack confidence it does stifle you, so it’s just about freeing that up. One of the unanswered questions in sport is why players can’t replicate their performance week after week. That’s what makes football so frustrating for the managers, coaches and especially the fans. It’s about finding that consistency week in, week out, and that’s what we’re looking to get now.”
– Steve McClaren

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Preview: Newcastle Utd vs Liverpool – 06/12/15

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A Sunday afternoon slaughter has been scheduled, as Jurgen’s surging Scousers visit St James’ to face an eviscerated and dispirited Newcastle side.

Klopp took over at the Kop in October, and after starting with three draws his side quickly found their feet and have since won seven out of eight, including bigs wins over Chelsea (3-1), Man City (4-1), and most recently Southampton (6-1).

McClaren’s Magpies also come into this one following a big scoreline, although in this case it was just the latest heavy loss of many this season, with Pardew’s Palace winning 5-1. We’ve won three games during McClaren’s tenure, one of which came in the cup, and any remnants of the hope that once infested some of us is quickly dissipating as this season goes from bad to worse.

“Nobody is happy at this football club; all of sudden we have gone three steps forward and five or six back.

“We believe in these players but confidence is very fragile. People question a lack of character and fight and it appears that way, but these are young players, this is what they are going through.

“This experience they have to go through to come through it – that bit of adversity in a big club in a tough situation and be stronger when they come out of it.”
– Steve McClaren

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Preview: Newcastle Utd vs Leicester City – 21/11/15

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This season’s surprise package visit St James’ Park for standard Saturday afternoon fixture against Schteve’s Magpies. Leicester currently occupy third place with an impressive 25 points from 12 games, winning their last three on the trot.

As for the hosts, our win over Bournemouth last time out doubled our tally of wins for the season, taking to 10 points and just out of the relegation, one point below Chelsea on 10. If we manage to steal a third win of the campaign here, it will be the first time in a year that we’ve recorded back-to-back wins.

We have been in somewhat of a run of form, even if the results don’t agree, and many decried the performance against Bournemouth that resulted in victory. We’ve quadrupled our points haul from the last six (2W, 2D, 2L) compared to the first half-dozen matches.

One glimmer of hope is that Leicester’s front-line leader, Jamie Vardy, a man on a nine game scoring spree and top of the goal charts, is a doubt thanks to a groin and hop injury that ruled him out of international duty. Continue reading