Newcastle United season restart preview

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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Newcastle United is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Here is a closer look at all things Magpies when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: The Magpies won’t be qualifying for Europe and also are extremely unlikely to be relegated, but is there some danger of the latter? It seems more likely that Newcastle’s season will be more headline watching to see if its controversial takeover is approved and serious pitch-analyzing to see if Joelinton can rediscover what he did well in the Bundesliga last season. Steve Bruce’s men are also in the FA Cup quarterfinals but have Man City coming to St. James’ Park, but the veteran manager getting a result against Pep Guardiola twice in one season seems a tall ask.

[ MORE: Ranking every Newcastle player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: The Magpies have done their best work replicating the system Rafa Benitez implemented last season, but Bruce has shown some real nous in getting four of six points from a flat back four in the final two matches before the pause (That said, the Burnley draw was abysmal).

It’s easy to imagine Bruce using four at the back for the first two matches of the restart, home outings against Blades and Villa, though the Magpies’ 2-0 defeat of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane saw the side effective in a 3-4-3. How it goes from there could dictate Bruce’s plans, though expect more 5-man back lines with Man City, Liverpool, and Spurs yet to come.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Newcastle’s chances ]


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Dubravka —–

— Manquillo — Lascelles — Fernandez — Rose —

—– Shelvey —– S. Longstaff —–

— Ritchie— Almiron — Saint-Maximin—

—– Joelinton —–

There are plenty of things that could and should change here. Loan signings Valentino Lazaro and Nabil Bentaleb have good chances to start and Isaac Hayden’s been more consistently than sophomore-slumping Sean Longstaff. The club also will want to court Matty Longstaff into a new deal and Geordie hero Andy Carroll is healthy and works well in place of or next to Joelinton, who can move to the wing. Fabian Schar and Ciaran Clark are starting caliber backs looking for homes since Steve Bruce moved away from a back five, and Paul Dummett is a healthy and adequate CB, too.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Sheffield United (6/21), Aston Villa (6/24), West Ham, Spurs, Liverpool
Away: Bournemouth (7/1), Man City, Watford, Brighton and Hove Albion

Predicted finish: We’ll know plenty within three days of the season’s restart, as Blades and Villa visit St. James’ Park and the Magpies could sit top half in no time. Eight points clear of the drop zone is not entirely safe with eight matches left, though, so there’s some potential for danger if they lose those winnable matches at an empty SJP. That said, there are too many ways to cross the 40-point mark and so many teams behind them. They sit 13th, and they’ll finish within a place or two of that.

Ranking every Newcastle United player

Newcastle United
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
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Newcastle United found big wins in odd places for the second-straight year, as Steve Bruce surprised many by holding steady to the reins dropped in his lap by the departing Rafa Benitez.

That doesn’t mean the season was all that good, or that he and half the players won’t be sent packing when the club’s controversial takeover is complete.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Below we give each Newcastle United player a grade, ranking and grouping them together based on their seasons so far.

If a Newcastle player is listed in this ranking it is because they’ve played in more than five games in all competitions.


A-GRADE

Allan Saint-Maximin: With respect to a deep group of defenders, the team’s Player of the Year running is down to Martin Dubravka and the man they call ASM. For our money, it goes to the electric winger. The Magpies attack is insipid without him, and see the video under Willems’ description for a prime example of defenders’ terrifying respect for his creativity. #SuckedIn

Martin Dubravka: Simply put, the Magpies would be in the drop zone without their shot stopper. He’s had some tough moments, to be sure, but the Slovakian veteran has made more saves than anyone else in the Premier League and they haven’t been easy often; Eighty of his 117 stops have come from inside the 18.

Fabian Schar: One of the best transfer bargains of this decade in the Premier League.

Jetro Willems: Find yourself a left wing back this composed in the box, as Willems takes advantage of Manchester United’s ASM obsession with two deft moves to cue up a Matty Longstaff debut winner.


B-GRADE

Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark: Steady as they go.

Miguel Almiron: There’s still a lot to do with the end product, but you get the feeling that the ex-Atlanta United star is really putting it together. Relentless.

Jonjo Shelvey: The team’s leading scorer with five goals. The only players in the PL to have completed more long balls this season are Rodri, Ruben Neves, and Granit Xhaka.

Matt Ritchie
Jamaal Lascelles
Isaac Hayden

Miguel Almiron goal
Miguel Almiron  (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

C-GRADE

Sean Longstaff: The sophomore slump has been very real. At 22, he’s got time to define what made him one of the league-wide revelations of the 2018-19 season.

Matty Longstaff: A promising start to life with the first team, including that monster goal on debut to beat Manchester United. Will he leave without a new deal, or will new ownership give him what he wants?

Paul Dummett: It’s amazing how much better of a player he’s been since Rafa Benitez slid him inside the back line.

DeAndre Yedlin: It stings to write this given our shared home nation, but Yedlin has declined every year on Tyneside. Close to D territory, sadly.

Andy Carroll
Javier Manquillo
Florian Lejeune
Christian Atsu

Deandre Yedlin (Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images)

D-GRADE

Joelinton: A monumental disappointment in his first season at Newcastle, but closer to a C than many realize; The Brazilian has been a beast in the air and might thrive in a team designed to get him the ball more than once a half.

Dwight Gayle: A tremendous Championship player, it’s not his fault the Magpies haven’t sold him to a place where he can do his thing.

Yoshinori Muto: You feel he hasn’t really gotten a proper chance to do damage to Premier League defenses. It won’t be a surprise if he finds 8-10 goals at his next stop.

Emil Krafth
Danny Rose


INCOMPLETE

Valentino Lazaro, Ki Sung-yeung, Nabil Bentaleb

Newcastle United 2019-20 season preview

Established: 1892
Stadium: St. James Park
Location: Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Head Coach: Steve Bruce
Nickname: The Magpies
Rivals: Sunderland, Middlesbrough
Top-Division Titles: Four (1904–05, 1906–07, 1908–09, 1926–27)

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]


Best possible XI:

Dubravka
Yedlin
Lascelles
Schar
Dummett
Shelvey
Hayden
Longstaff
Ritchie
Almiron
Joelinton

Key arrivals: Joelinton (Hoffenheim), Kyle Scott (Chelsea), Allan Saint-Maximin (Nice), Andy Carroll (Free), Emil Krafth (Amiens)

Key departures: Mohamed Diame (Al-Ahli), Ayoze Perez (Leicester City), Joselu (Alaves)

Ranking their offseason: Baffling? Newcastle United allowed Rafa Benitez’s contract to wind down and saw him leave for the Chinese Super League. The club also allowed mainstay Ayoze Perez to walk, and it looked to be all fizzling when owner Mike Ashley hired perceived yes man Steve Bruce to take the reins of a weak side… and then they smashed their transfer record to pair Joelinton with Miguel Almiron. Andy Carroll arrived to try and add a little extra firepower, but not a good summer at all for the Magpies. 5/10

Star player: Joelinton — Well, it has to be, doesn’t it? The Brazilian has a unique skill set that pairs strong hold up play with good vision and playmaking. Think somewhere between a less-polished Roberto Firmino and Richarlison, if we’re going strictly Brazilian.

Coaches’ Corner: Steve Bruce — A boyhood Newcastle fan who’s been fairly adept at guiding teams to promotion but not-so-much when it comes to guiding decent Premier League seasons.

PST predicts: Getting multiple results by the first international break is going to be a hassle, and the Magpies will have done well if they sit outside the Bottom Three heading into November. This team should be relegation-threatened, but also will prove too steady at the back to go down to the Championship.

Newcastle locks up captain, transfer target Lascelles for six years

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Newcastle’s emotional leader and arguable best player isn’t going anywhere*.

Jamaal Lascelles has signed a new six-year deal with the Magpies, keeping him at St. James’ Park through the 2023-24 season.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Rafa Benitez called Lascelles “the future of the club and someone who really cares.”

It’s hard to debate that, even beyond the uplifting story of Lascelles helping an Afghanistan veteran in the rain.

Lascelles’ 7.1 clearances per game rank fifth in the Premier League. He’s been linked with most of the Top Four teams at some point, and is still just 24 years oldFrom NUFC.co.uk:

“He’s still a young player, still a young captain and still a young centre-back, so we’re talking about a player who has a great future, because normally you consider the peak of a centre-back could be between 28 years old and 30 years old, so still he has plenty of room for improvement.”

Newcastle has yet to win this season, but defense has not been the problem. Owner Mike Ashley again failed to approve transfers for the sort of attacking talent the club has had in the past.

Unfortunately for Lascelles, the happy day has received some backlash because he had the audacity to give praise to the man who just green lit his new long-term contract and raise: controversial and penny-pinching owner Ashley.

Don’t get us wrong: Ashley is costing Newcastle big time on the table, but being angry with Lascelles for paying a compliment during a massive career announcement? A little petty.

*With the everpresent knowledge that new contracts just raise transfer price tags.

Newcastle captain helps marine vet in inspiring tale

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Jamaal Lascelles has earned Newcastle United’s captaincy for a reason, and his example setting clearly extends off the field.

The 24-year-old has been tipped for an England look thanks to his displays at Newcastle this season, but an ankle injury has kept him away from the pitch since Nov. 4.

[ MORE: Dealing with USMNT FOMO ]

Out for dinner with his girlfriend on a cold night, Lascelles came upon a marine veteran who was having trouble with his wheelchair. After unsuccessfully trying to help the man repair his a broken wheel, Lascelles volunteered to drive the veteran home. But the marine was in too much pain from a recent surgery and it was too painful to lift him into Lascelles’ vehicle.

So Lascelles invited the marine and his partner inside for drinks, and called him a taxi that can handle wheelchair-bound people. He paid for the taxi, promised him some tickets, and now the pair are talking via Facebook.

From The Newcastle Chronicle:

“…He was the nicest guy ever. I think he was about 27, he lost his legs when he was 24. It just makes you think about how fortunate we are as footballers, we don’t have anything to moan about, at all.

“He was an ex-marine. I think he was out in Afghanistan, I think he stepped on a mine I think. He lost his legs, but his upper body is so strong because he’s always wheeling. It was only 10-15 minutes out of my time.”

What’s most inspiring is that Lascelles could’ve counted himself content at several parts in the story, from trying to help his new marine friend into his wheelchair, to not being able to get the vet into his car, to just buying the man some drinks.

But he kept going, and wasn’t sated. We can all learn from that.

The full interview is in Match of the Day Magazine, and this is their web site.