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Opinion

Newcastle United are heading for a heavy defeat, no a REALLY heavy defeat – Here’s why

1 month ago
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It’s fair to say that it’s been a strange old season so far in the Premier League and recently some results have cropped up to surprise even the most seasoned watcher.

Be it Tottenham Hotspur’s 6-1 trouncing of Manchester United at Old Trafford, Leicester City’s brilliant 5-2 win at Manchester City or West Ham United’s amazing three goal comeback to draw at Tottenham recently.

The pick of the bunch must surely go to Aston Villa for trouncing Champions Liverpool 7-2 earlier this month.

There really have been some strange scores so far, which brings me onto Newcastle United…and if you’re searching for positivity, look away now.

I can’t believe some of the stuff that comes out of Steve Bruce most of the time but when he said “The defeat looks worse than it really was” after the game, I can sort of meet him halfway.

Alright, it’s the most flimsiest of halfway meetings but I feel like I have to give him at least something.

In truth, Manchester United deserved to be 4-1 up by the end due to their near total superiority over 90 minutes but I suppose Bruce can at least rightfully claim to have got Newcastle United to with five minutes or so of a draw against one of the ‘big’ teams.

That I believe he was to blame for the defeat and that pretty much any other manager wouldn’t have lost that game, is a moot point. Wins against the likes of Manchester United are always nice but they only define our season if they mean something. Our bread and butter is against the teams that will be directly around us and that means those in the bottom half.

One thing I can envisage over the coming few weeks is a heavy defeat. No, not the one like what we saw against Manchester United at the weekend, I mean a REALLY heavy defeat. All the signs have been pointing to one. Manchester United had 28 shots (14 on target) Tottenham had 23 shots (12 on target) and even Brighton bossed us with 13 shots (6 on target) while we had five shots on target in total over ALL THREE games, with four of them in the Manchester United game itself. Pitiful, just pitiful.

All it will take is for one side to find their shooting boots and we will be sunk. We frequently end up on these sorts of hidings based on the stats but there is a big defeat coming round the corner goals wise, just watch.

In truth, our games in the run up to Christmas look potentially horrific. Sunday’s game against Wolverhampton at Molineux looks tricky and then we have high flying Everton up here. Southampton away follows with what could be one of our only pieces of respite this side of new year. We follow that trip to the south coast with the visit of Chelsea to St James Park, then it’s Crystal Palace and Aston Villa away, West Brom at home, Leeds away, Fulham at home and then (brace yourselves) Manchester City away followed by both Liverpool and Leicester City on home soil. This is not looking good.

Two things spring to mind, one pessimistic, the other more optimistic but tinged with a sense of realism. The pessimist in me thinks we will be lucky to get more than ten points before January 2nd with possible points being collected against Southampton, West Brom and Fulham, games Steve Bruce should be looking to target specifically, although I doubt he will.

On the more positive side, it’s more than feasible that we could collect points against those sides and then shock another side that we perhaps aren’t expecting to get something off. I’m looking at the lucky win at home to Chelsea last season for that piece of inspiration. One will come that’s for sure but you just hope it’s backed up by enough points from the teams that will be around us come the end of the season, for if my prediction of around another ten points by the turn of the year is remotely accurate, we will be deep in the clarts and I can’t foresee the goal difference being too clever either.

This is the result of a number of things. Weakening the defence from a solid unit to that where we are conceding twice as many as we are scoring (see yesterday’s excellent Expected Goals graph in an article provided by Jim Robertson) which is always a recipe for disaster. When you expect to score a goal a game, but expect to concede two, you’re only heading one way.

Another thing is Bruce’s inability to manage injuries, something which I’ve done to death and won’t go over again here but suffice to say it’s a MAJOR problem and will come back to bite later in the season.

The final thing is that (much like last season) there is highly likely to be three worse teams than ourselves. As it stands we are six points better off than Burnley, Sheffield United and Fulham who are currently in the drop zone. Unfortunately, I expect those teams to improve and Manchester United are still below us but won’t be come the end of the season.

We are currently 13th (yes after only five games before any giddy and delusional optimist points it out) and could have temporarily gone 2nd if we had beaten the red half of Manchester at the weekend but does anyone really think that what we are seeing currently from Newcastle United will merit a top half finish come the season’s end?

I hardly think so, we’re playing worse than some teams below us. I would venture that the current position we find ourselves in is slightly false and bar the odd flourish here and there, league position wise this could be as good as it gets this season.

To twist Steve Bruce’s words around after the Manchester United game, I would say that things are actually looking BETTER than they really are and that his season’s nadir is yet to come.

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