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Why Premier League top six could be wide open for Newcastle United next season…if they get it right

2 months ago
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Are the Premier League top six untouchable?

With Newcastle United particularly in mind…

Just looking at last season’s final Premier League table wouldn’t appear to suggest much/any hope.

Newcastle ended the season on 45 points in 13th place, 6th place Man Utd were on 66 points (21 ahead of NUFC), Arsenal 5th on 70 points (25 ahead) and 4th place Spurs 26 points in front of Newcastle on 71 points.

Of course Newcastle fans are now seeing this potential club takeover by the Bin Zayed group as a game changer that could equal getting a lot closer to that Premier League top six. However, could NUFC make a challenge towards that top half dozen even without new ambitious owners?

It wouldn’t be easy but if retaining Rafa Benitez and with a realistic summer transfer budget, I think even under Mike Ashley it isn’t totally impossible.

Look at these two tables below, they show last season’s Premier League table based on the final 28 games of the season and then the final 16 matches:

Final 28 games of 2018/19 Premier League table:

premier league form table 2018/19 from match week 11

As you can see, that 28 match form guide takes in 75% of the season after the chaos and lack of support from the owner in the summer 2018 transfer window, which led to a very difficult opening to the season.

Remarkably, even after Mike Ashley insisted on a £20m+ profit on transfer deals in summer 2018, Rafa and Newcastle bounced back with this form over the last six and a half months of the season.

Man City and Liverpool were on a different planet of course in terms of points difference to Newcastle, as indeed though was the case for all 18 clubs outside that top two.

However, over 28 games Newcastle were only eight or less points adrift of Spurs, Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Then here is the final 16 PL games form table for 2018/19:

premier league form table 2018/19 from match week 23

Newcastle in fifth with actually better form than Chelsea, Man Utd and Spurs.

Is it really impossible to think that if Rafa Benitez was secured, then backed with decent money/signings and the chance to get these players in early enough so he could have a proper pre-season preparation this time, that Newcastle couldn’t get a whole lot closer?

With a good start to the season it would definitely open up the possibility for me.

Involvement in the later stages of European competition definitely appeared to impact on the PL form of the likes of Chelsea and Spurs.

With Rafa, a better squad and a good start to the season, Newcastle could just maybe take advantage.

It is a major leap of faith but why shouldn’t any football fan be able to dream at this stage?

As part of that, hopefully Arsenal will lose tonight in the Europa League final.

The Gunners losing would mean countless Europa League games next season and a potential impact on their Premier League campaign, having to chase the Champions League spot that winning the Europa League would give them. Man Utd are already in that position and next season will be looking to repeat 2016/17 when they won the Europa League which got them back into the Champions League.

This is what happen in terms of qualification for the Champions League if Chelsea win the Europa League tonight:

Uefa Champions League rule 3.04b states: “A vacancy created by the UEFA Europa League titleholder is filled by the third placed club of the association ranked 5th in the access list and the league path is rebalanced accordingly with priority given to the club of the best ranked association of the respective round in the access list.”

The 5th placed association in Europe is currently France and so Lyon, who came third in this year’s Ligue 1, would then benefit and take the automatic Champions League group place left vacant, if Arsenal lose to Chelsea. Confirming Arsenal would join Man Utd in the Europa league next season.

That last 16 matches Premier League table was also very encouraging in terms of only four clubs scored more goals than the 26 Newcastle United scored.Both in terms of entertainment and an increased goal threat that bodes well for next season, especially if other positive attacking signings are made as well as retaining Rondon.

The Newcastle United talkover talk has got fans dreaming but even under Mike Ashley it could be possible for Rafa Benitez to significantly progress the team, IF Ashley changes to at least a common sense acceptance of the opportunity the manager presents.

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