Season preview: Newcastle United

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Newcastle United news, season preview: The 2020-21 Premier League season is almost here and our season previews will give you all of the information you need to know about each of the 20 PL clubs.

Let’s go!

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This is our Newcastle United season preview, and you can click on the link above to find out exactly how you can watch every single Magpies game live in the USA across our platforms at NBC Sports.

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Okay, time to focus on Newcastle United’s route to another season in the Premier League and another step up the table.


Newcastle United

2019-20 finish: 13th in Premier League (11W-11D-16L, 44 points)
Head coach: Steve Bruce
2019-20 top scorer: Jonjo Shelvey (6 goals)
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne


ProSoccerTalk’s key topic on Newcastle United: What to expect after the weirdest year in a series of weird years.

It says a lot about Newcastle that Steve Bruce doing an adequate job after replacing Rafa Benitez and the team staying above the drop zone was a combination fit to be hailed by many pundits as Manager of the Year type stuff.

Newcastle ground out a lot of points last season that even now seem wild achievements. The Magpies won away to Tottenham at drew as visitors to Wolves and Everton. They beat Chelsea and Manchester United at home, where they also drew Man City and Wolves.

There were also nil-nils against Norwich and Burnley at home, and the Magpies only took one of six points from the Canaries and fellow relegated side Watford (At least they swept Bournemouth).

The Magpies also had to deal with the biannual takeover talk, this one reaching an agreement before walking away in the night over a prolonged approval process (Wait… what’s that? It’s still in the headlines every day? Cool. Cool. Shouldn’t be a distraction at all).

So who is this team? The one that expected goals said could’ve scored a boatload more of goals if Joelinton and Miguel Almiron sorted out the chances they produced or the one that was saved by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka on a number of occasions? If it’s the latter and those saves become goals, Bruce will be gone and the Magpies may well go down.


Newcastle United news: The current situation

Bruce has added proven Premier League talent from two relegated sides in the forms of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser of Bournemouth plus left back Jamal Lewis of Norwich City. They also collected work-monger Jeff Hendrick on a free from Burnley.

They badly need help at fullback and/or a bounceback year from USMNT mainstay DeAndre Yedlin and an upgrade at defensive midfielder or left back would be a plus.

That said, there is talent here if Bruce can marshal it into a more cohesive unit. Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, and Almiron can conjure the sublime. Better finishing in front combined with a center back corps led by Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar, and Federico Fernandez that is very deep could see the Magpies into midtable.


Key Newcastle United news, season objectives

  • Find reliable scoring: Shelvey leading the team in scoring is almost as alarming as that his goal total was six. Newcastle got nothing from forwards last year, a combination of snakebit and poor (Miguel Almiron and Joelinton scored six combined goals when their combined xG was nearly 14). Callum Wilson is a big bet to help that.
  • Sort out the defense: Newcastle’s defensive problems were masked by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who was named the team’s Player of the Season and the main reason Newcastle outperformed expected goals conceded by 9.03. Only Arsenal and Sheffield United did “better.”
  • Restore the level: The Magpies should’ve finished with a league-worst 31 points according to the xG table, a combination of very good goalkeeping, Shelvey from distance, and show-stopping playmaking from Allan Saint-Maximin propelling them into safety. The Magpies have to engineer more even performances with a few more chances produced and a few less demands of stardom from Dubravka.

Transfers in

  • Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) Free More info
  • Mark Gillespie (Motherwell) Free
  • Niall Brookwell (Liverpool) Free
  • Jeff Hendrick (Burnley) Free More info
  • Jamal Lewis (Norwich City)
  • Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) More info

ProSoccerTalk’s prediction for Newcastle United in 2020-21

This really feels like a case of extremes. The Magpies could start well with West Ham, Brighton, and Burnley as three of their first four opponents but emerging from there with 1-2 points could be the start of a relegation campaign.

Ultimately, though, betting on Almiron, Wilson, and Saint-Maximin to produce 15-20 goals isn’t unruly, especially if the last name on that list is also contributing a half-dozen assists. Newcastle will finish outside the bottom three but whether that is assured in March or the final weekend is anyone’s guess.New

‘Not the bad guy’: Koeman hits back on Suarez exit at Barcelona

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman is not worried about the commitment of Lionel Messi to the team despite his ongoing conflicts with the club leadership.

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Koeman said Saturday that he cared about the efforts of Messi on the field – and not his criticisms of the board for stopping him from leaving Barcelona while pushing out teammate and friend Luis Suarez.

“It is normal that a player is sad when a friend leaves,” Koeman said in a conciliatory tone toward Messi, a day after the star forward went to social media to complain that Barcelona’s board had not given Suarez the exit he “deserved.”

“But the most important thing for me is how Leo has trained. He has been an example for the rest in practice and in the (preseason) matches,” Koeman said a day before his official debut as Barcelona’s coach against Villarreal.

Suarez learned of the club’s decision to get rid of him through a call from Koeman, who was hired after the team lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich to end last season. After probing a transfer with Juventus in Italy, Barcelona ended up sending Suarez to Spanish league rival Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Koeman, however, made clear that he did not want to be considered solely responsible for the departure of the 33-year-old Suarez, who left Barcelona as its third all-time leading scorer.

“I must say that I look like the bad guy … That is not true,” Koeman said. “It was a decision of the club. The club, before I had become its coach, took some decisions. This was not my sole decision as coach; it was also the decision of the club. It is an effort to change the team. Younger players will have more opportunities.”

Those younger players include new signings Francisco Trincao and Pedri, and 17-year-old Ansu Fati.

“Ansu is a great talent,” Koeman said about the striker who became Spain’s youngest all-time scorer on his debut earlier this month.

“There are few players who have shown they can play for Barca. He is a player of the future.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

West Brom – Chelsea: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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West Brom – Chelsea: The Blues are in desperate need of a strong rebound when they visit The Hawthorns on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 pm ET, on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WEST BROM – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

The Baggies, on the other hand, are simply hoping to collect their first point of the season after suffering a 3-0 defeat to Leicester City on the opening day of the 2020-21 season and following that up with a 5-2 beatdown at the hands of Everton last weekend.

As far as favorable matchups go, facing the 20th-place side a week after losing to defending champions Liverpool is quite timely for Chelsea, who is still a week or two away from seeing Christian Pulisic in a match.

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Here is everything you need to know ahead of West Brom – Chelsea this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: West Brom – Chelsea (INJURY REPORT)

Hal Robson-Kanu’s leg is not a problem after a good midweek in the League Cup and he’ll start on the bench.

Christian Pulisic is out for Chelsea but Cesar Azpilicueta is fit to see the bench.


What they’re saying: West Brom – Chelsea

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic, on struggling to sign players: “We don’t have a huge budget, that is why we are trying to be creative and lucky. That’s not easy but we are trying. … We have to do it to maintain a good chance.”

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, on Thiago Silva: “It is exciting for us because he has had just over a week training with us. It was a perfect 60 minutes for him tonight. He will show the qualities he has. Of course, he will get fitter and better. He also gave us something for me on the night in the dressing room and on the pitch of a leader with authority in terms of his demands on others. He can’t speak the language but at the minute that’s not even a problem because his presence and the way he commands people around him is already showing that to me in training and in our game tonight.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

West Brom (+750) represent one of the biggest underdogs — or, opportunities, depending on how you look at it — of the still-young PL season. There’s not much to be won by betting on Chelsea (-280). Even the draw (+400) is pretty far out there.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: West Brom – Chelsea

Barring some unforeseen circumstances — for example, a 12th-minute red card — it’s virtually impossible to see West Brom getting anything from this game. They’ve been incredibly poor defensively through two games, and they’re yet to face a side with anything close to the firepower which the Blues possess. West Brom 1-3 Chelsea.


How to watch West Brom – Chelsea stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:30 pm ET Saturday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Potter, Trossard lament latest bit of Brighton misfortune

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Less than 18 hours after ProSoccerTalk posited that positive Brighton and Hove Albion’s lack of luck must be coming to an end, Graham Potter’s hosts smashed the post five times and had VAR award a penalty after the final whistle had blown.

Sorry, Seagulls supporters.

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The match ended when Neal Maupay’s handball was spotted after the Seagulls had leveled the match at 2 deep in stoppage time, Bruno Fernandes scoring the decisive penalty in a 3-2 for the visitors to the Amex Stadium.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side was lucky on a day they were out-attempted 18-7, while Potter could simply muster, “That’s football” regarding the posts and extremely late VAR drama.

That said, he does wonder how the match got to the eighth-minute in the first place. Hashtag Fergie Time.

Here’s Potter via the Brighton and Hove Independent:

“I’d say we deserved something from the game,” Potter sad. “I would say that’s an understatement.”

Potter said he “didn’t know where the extra time came from,” adding: “I thought we scored with the last kick of the game. … We are bitterly disappointed to concede the way we have, at the time we have.”

Expected goals site Understat says Brighton won the xG battle 2.98-1.58.

Brighton winger Leandro Trossard was responsible for three of the five posts struck by the losing side.

“Unbelievable, the feeling I can’t describe, we were the better team today,” he said. “We deserved at least a point, it’s a shame. There were five minutes added on and we played at least seven. Sometimes it’s just not your day.”

Even for a side as snakebit as the Seagulls, Saturday’s loss is a sick one.

Man United ‘got away with one’ after dramatic late win at Brighton

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Manchester United reaction from Brighton was honest as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players looked somewhat sheepish as they snuck out of the Amex Stadium with a dramatic 3-2 win.

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After being dominated for most of the game, Man United went behind then equalized via an own goal and took the lead after a piece of solo brilliance from Marcus Rashford.

Brighton saw a penalty kick decision overturned, hit the woodwork five times and then scored a 95th minute equalizer, only for Man United to be awarded a penalty kick after the final whistle blew as VAR was used and Bruno Fernandes won it in the 100th minute.

Speaking to BT Sport in the UK after the game, Solskjaer couldn’t help but laugh when trying to sum it all up and he admitted Man United secured an undeserved win.

“You can’t sum it up. We got away with one, to be fair. Maybe one point was what we deserved. I don’t think we deserved more,” Solskjaer admitted with his Manchester United reaction. “The character deserved more. That’s a big thing for us, compared to last season. We had too many draws last season. They [Brighton] created too much for my liking. They are a difficult team to play against and they have really good ball players at the back.

“We don’t really have the legs and sharpness still, but we will get there. We have plenty of work to do, we know that, and the players know that. The players know we got away with one. We have to take the points and know we have to improve a lot. Last week was disappointing, today at least we showed the character and showed a response and the lads showed their quality a few times. Strikers and forward making chances and David de Gea making saves.”

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Bruno Fernandes had a mixed outing and his Manchester United reaction showcased that. The Portuguese superstar set up the first goal via a free kick, set up Rashford’s superb strike and scored the late penalty kick winner, but he also gave away a penalty kick and lost Solly March for Brighton’s late equalizer.

“It is a difficult game. In the first half we left so many spaces for them to play. We were not as aggressive as I want. Big teams need to believe until the end. We created the chance, and at this point we need to look forward and do much better than we did today,” Fernandes said. “The point is to score goals, not hitting the crossbar and the post. Sometimes you have to have luck and the goalkeeper playing well and David de Gea did really well.”

Manchester United have now lost to Crystal Palace and snuck by Brighton in their first two games of the Premier League season and it is clear that Solskjaer’s side are yet to hit full fitness after a brief offseason due to reaching the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League.

Brighton were unlucky. Man United were unlucky. Solskjaer admitted it, and that’s fair enough. But sooner rather than later they have to get back up to speed as the Red Devils will be left behind.

They now face Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal within their next four Premier League games and they won’t let them off the hook like Brighton did.