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Opinion

Newcastle United strengths and weaknesses – 16 days ahead of new season

4 weeks ago
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Difficult to believe but only a couple of weeks before Newcastle United are back in action.

Nottingham Forest at St James’ Park, always great starting the season with a home match.

Well, as long as we win anyway.

A lot of positives and momentum have built up in 2022, with that second half of the season form, seven players bought in and around £160m spent.

That final home game of last season gave some of the biggest positivity, not only did Newcastle United beat Arsenal 2-0 but NUFC absolutely dominated. Even Mikel Arteta said that Newcastle deserved to have won by more, the game also saw Newcastle going on the attack, pressing high, plus this was against opposition who knew if they won it would all but guarantee them Champions League football.

With the new season just around the corner, I thought I would evaluate the Newcastle United strengths and weaknesses, as I see them…

I have rated each category between 1 and 10, with 1-5 equalling a weal verdict and 6-10 strong. Obviously the higher the better in terms of strength, whilst the lower the worst when it comes to weakness.

Goalkeepers

Assuming that Martin Dubravka stays, I reckon this will be the strongest due Newcastle United have had since Given and Harper.

Neither might quite be the quality of Given but then there again not many are.

However, for me both our options are options now are Premier League top ten goalkeepers and not many clubs can boast a stronger pair.

A strength – 9 out of 10

Defence

An all new back four set to line up, compared to a year ago.

Trippier, Burn and Targett excelled last season and now joined by £30m+ Botman.

The last 20 PL games of last season, if you ignore the aways at Spurs and Man City, saw Newcastle concede only 11 goals in 18 games. If they can pick up that kind of form in this coming season it will be some platform to build on.

A strength – 8.5 out f 10

Back four back-up

Schar can count himself really unlucky if he starts on the bench, after his form last season.

So I think with Lascelles and him as cover in the middle, then Krafth doing decent earlier this year in Trippier’s absence, then along with Dummett as cover, it isn’t bad back up. If Lewis could get fully fit then maybe he could still prove a big bonus, he cost £15m and if bouncing back to form could be an asset.

A strength – 6.5 out of 10

Centre forward

With Callum Wilson, I think we have a centre forward who could play for any of the top teams and do a job.

Not saying that he is better than the strikers the top clubs have but wouldn’t look out of place in those sides. Though admittedly some of those strikers are better than Wilson

He has averaged a goal every two starts playing for a poor to average NUFC these past two seasons and of course the only problem is that he has managed to start only 39 of the 76 PL games for Newcastle United.

A strength – 8 out of 10

Striker back-up

It’s a difficult one.

Chris Wood did a very unselfish job last season and in his 15 starts Newcastle picked up 29 points, so it certainly worked when it came to the plan Howe came up with.

However, when it comes to goals, it is difficult to see Wood getting anything close to what Wilson would.

So on that basis I would have to say…

A weakness – 3 out of 10

Overall goal threat

It is well publicised that Eddie Howe would like to add a couple of attacking signings and you can understand why.

When it comes to the overall goal threat in the squad, we are clearly lacking.

With the exception of Wilson, is there anybody who you would back to potentially get double figures, or even close to it?

ASM should be capable of getting somewhere close, Joelinton as well I think. Bruno only scored three goals in 70+ appearances for Lyon, so you just have to hope his five in eleven for NUFC is something that could be built on.

Willock only got two goals last season, after that blitz at the end of the previous season, which I think increasingly looks unlikely to be repeated in any similar way.

A weakness – 3 out of 10

Fitness

A massive success story under Eddie Howe and the team clearly feeling the benefit.

Club analysis in pre-season says that this is the fittest the NUFC first team squad has ever been. Great news.

A strength – 9.5 out of 10

Over-reliance on key players

Those results in the second half of last season were achieved almost entirely without Wilson and Trippier. A big positive in terms of the resilience of the squad.

However, I do think that generally this NUFC team / squad would be seriously hurt if we had just a small number of injuries in key positions. Personally, I think Bruno, Wilson and Joelinton are the trio we can least do without.

A weakness – 4 out of 10

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