Click here to go to the discussion thread by Colback’s Orange Tufts
Hello and welcome all to the first preview of the new season, and what a season it promises to be. After such a bad time in every aspect last year, the arrival of Rafa Benitez has brought unfamiliar optimism. Utilizing his reputation and strong character, not to forget Newcastle’s desperation, Rafa has pulled apart a failed business model of tight purse strings, low aspiration and speculative investments in unproven, young players. In its place a more singular, focused and inspiring pattern is emerging. Whilst it would be human nature may be tempting to look at our 09/10 total of 102 point and say we’ll beat it, if any club can fail from a position of such strength, it would be NUFC.
We kick the season off on Friday with a trip to Craven Cottage, the site of five consecutive losses in the league for Newcastle. Our last game in 2014 saw a struggling Fulham gain a vital 1-0 win for their ultimately fruitless survival bid, whilst Alan Pardew served the first of a three game ban for headbutting David Meyler. The last Newcastle win at the Cottage came in 2007, a poor quality match with a last minute Joey Barton penalty temporarily easing the pressure on Sam Allardyce.
The players are working very hard and they are ready. We know the Championship is very difficult but we have the hope and belief that we can do well. We have a lot of respect for Fulham. They beat Crystal Palace 3-1 and have a good manager. It will not be an easy game.
Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cisse’s Overheating Torso
This Sunday sees Newcastle’s last game in the Premier League for at least a season, if not longer and an opportunity to make an updated version of this montage:
We face a Spurs side second in the table, needing a draw to all but seal second place and finishing above rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1995. Spurs have had a great league season, improving from 5th last year and with the best defence. The club and the squad give the impression of everyone working together well, the polar opposite of the ongoing calamities at SJP.
Our home record against Spurs is not stellar, having won one and lost two of the last five. Seemingly, we do our best work at White Heart Lane, with our third win on the bounce only one of 2 away wins this season (why are we going down again?).
Click here to go to the discussion thread by Cal
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
Click here to go to the discussion thread by TJR
A traditional 3pm Saturday kick off sees Newcastle United playing host to Bournemouth in the latest instalment of the 15/16 Premier League season. This is the second meeting of the two sides this season, the previous being a 1-0 win for the then visitors at the Vitality Stadium down on the South Coast back in November. Ayoze Perez got the goal that day, though it is probably fair to say Bournemouth were unlucky not to have got anything from that game, largely down to some fantastic goalkeeping from Rob Elliot.
The 1-0 win at Bournemouth in November was the Magpies’ first victory on the road this campaign. Fast forward to March and we’re now up to two away wins, in fact Newcastle have played 14 away games so far this season, winning two, drawing one and losing 11. Seven points from a possible 42, scoring just seven goals and conceding 32 in the process. As shocking as those statistics are Steve McClaren will be thankful that this fixture is at St James’ Park and not away from home.
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.