Are Newcastle United in the title race? They have spent money better than Man Utd

Newcastle United fan celebrates Credit: Alamy
Newcastle United fan celebrates Credit: Alamy

We should be talking about Newcastle United; that much is clear. Never mind top four, could they win the title? They certainly have a better chance than Manchester United.

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Ten Conclusions on Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United
Sorry Villa fans, but a bit one eyed here. Might have gotten to 16 conclusions if I’d paid more attention to Villa too.

1. Not quite OGS one step forward two steps back stuff, but that was a slight bump back to earth.

2. Not great depth in squad at United.

3. Yes I know above should not be a conclusion given how much money has been spent.

4. Has DVDB buggered up his final chance? Of course I have no idea what it is like to play in an EPL match, but surely at some point he has to think, sod it, I am just going to go out in a hail of bullets or be a hero, and give it a go.

5. Fulham next week is a bit of a must win, to keep spirits up over the WC.

6. Hopefully the WC is a chance for a (proper) second pre-season, since the players did not look like they paid much attention during the first one.

7. New manager bounce is obviously a thing.

8. Would be weird if United finished near the top of the mini “big 7 league” but then failed to make top four. (Currently 2nd on average points per game).

9. Ronaldo as captain was a bit odd given recent shenanigans.

10. No chance I’d be able to get to 16, (see beginning of mail).
Ged Biglin

 

Manchester United missing Varane
Ok, Villa deservedly won, it’s no crisis.

With a new manager bounce they had just four shots on target, three of them flying into the corners. On another day none would have gone in. On another day one could have also been enough the way Utd played so I’m not trying to take anything away from a well deserved win for Villa.

ETH has been there less than half a season so this result was always around the corner. Donny is not a like for like replacement for Bruno, Anthony is definitely missed but the biggest miss is Varane. Not just for his quality but for the way he’s got the defence celebrating blocks, clearances, tackles which ensures they continue to make more of them. The third goal was the worst as there were players close enough that usually would have closed the shot down and kept us in the game (maybe).

But anyway, no big deal, Utd are a work in progress and this just reminds us that top four is going to be tough and need us to improve as the season progresses. Liverpool are not giving up top 4 so easily, nor are Spurs, Chelsea or the Toon.

This will be quite a fight for those Champions League places.
Jon, Cape Town

 

Spending money ranking
Based on completely self made lists and own estimation, below are the ranking of money spent and if were invested properly.

Worse tier: Chelsea. What the hell were they even doing? Overrated managers and players all around.
Mid tier: Man Utd. Hits were seriously overpaid i.e Martinez. 70m Sancho is a failure people just don’t want to admit it yet, as well as 50m Casemiro. Yet let’s do another protests campaign on why our 1 billion squad is malfunctioning #glazersout
Good tier: Newcastle and Arsenal. Excellent, just excellent all around.
Exceptional tier: Man City.

Liverpool are not included because they are busy calculating net spend so why bother.
Syfq Amr, Malaysia

 

Graham Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Well wasn’t holding out much hope for a result yesterday against a full strength Arsenal; with James, Chilwell, Forfana, and Kante unavailable and with Kovacic and Koulibaly being nursed through to the world cup.

But the benchmark every football fan sets their team is to give 100% effort and go down fighting. Yesterday we went out with a whimper with a set of tactics even Potter must question. Won’t spend time on the autopsy of the game or goal, the picture of Cucurella hugging Xhaka as the ball passes him says more than words can.

Still very much Potter in (although the Chelsea Twitterati influencer accounts are already turning, Twats!). But he has to stop overthinking his tactics. Isolating Havertz, Sterling and Aubameyang from the game was folly.

We desperately need this World Cup break and hopefully James doesn’t make it, we need him fit for next year. It’s been a really strange season, Liverpool, Spurs, United, Chelsea look nowhere near the grade. Real opportunity for the Geordies, it just maybe their lift off season.
P. Didi

 

Three-horse race for the title?
This weekend’s result felt like an important milestone in the title race. Arsenal won away at Chelsea; another box ticked for their title resume. City proved to Pep that they still respond to his stewardship; hopefully resulting in him resigning for another couple of years; and finally Newcastle dispatched another team away from home. They are a very good team and their absence from Europe this season stands them in good stead to mount a charge should City or Arsenal falter.

As a City fan, I’m really looking forward to resuming the title race in December. All three teams play well and have honest managers. Good luck to them all.
Rosie Poppin

 

We need to talk about Newcastle
Y’all keep picking the wrong matches from which to draw 16 Conclusions. I did not find Arsenal-Chelsea all that enlightening (or exciting), but then I was already taking Arsenal seriously as contenders. Potter is having some difficulty forging an identity out of that assembly of undoubted talent, but higher profile managers have done the same at Chelsea for years. Spurs-Liverpool actually offered only two significant conclusions: Mo Salah remains a smart, sharp striker, and Spurs are Spurs.

That said, it did solidify my own conclusion – based on the Spurs matches I’ve watched this season – that Antonio Conte does not in fact have a plan, unless it’s “demand two or three impact players after the World Cup or else I quit.” I think there are a number of Premier League coaches doing better work right now. Possibly including Ralph Hasenhuttl, who appears to have received Schrodinger’s sacking despite finding ways to suppress our game today; Newcastle have peppered a lot of keepers this season, but today they had only four shots on goal, scoring with all of them.

Newcastle have been the real story of recent weeks, and next week’s match at home to Chelsea offers a chance to correct your misjudgement. There appear to be dozens of Conclusions on offer every time Newcastle play. Not to mention questions:

How long can they keep it up? If we made sure to bring up the bin Saud family’s human rights record every time we reported on Newcastle, could the bad publicity make sportswashing impracticable? Winger is probably the position where Saudi money can most easily buy quality in January, but how could you put Miggy Almiron’s place under threat right now? Statistically speaking, he’s already basically achieved the highest expectations I ever hoped for him for a season (and I always loved him). Longstaff/Shelvey/Willock? Shelvey just got a contract extension, while Longstaff and Willock are making up an seemingly unbeatable midfield with Bruno. Any new talent has to be able to press like a terrier; Trossard makes for a tasty rumor, but does he have enough of that in him? As an American, I’ve dreamed of Christian Pulisic in black and white for years, but would I bring him in right now? (Hmm.)

Also as an American: Jesse Marsch’s success at Leeds (such as it is) is a pleasure to watch. I never really liked or rated the guy, going back to his MLS playing career. But he wears his heart on his sleeve, and no Toon supporter can really hate that. His reactions to goals both for and against his side make it literally impossible for me to believe his claims that he has never seen Ted Lasso.

Anyway, here’s a Conclusion I think is worth noting: the Premier League is putting out a fantastic product right now. This weekend’s matches were largely entertaining, often dramatic, frequently surprising, and hard-fought even at the bottom of the table. Six points separate Wolves and Forest at the bottom from Brentford in 11th. Palace, Fulham and Liverpool in the next three spots are all closer to the bottom than they are to Arsenal and City. There were five extra-time goals this weekend, several of them decisive. I, for one, am entertained.

I also have to say that I found a Ronaldo-captained Man United side having their asses handed to them by the side we beat 0-4 last weekend quite pleasant. Sorry/not sorry.
Chris C, Toon Army DC

 

Funny though
Can you please inform the author of 16 concs for the pool game that they owe me a new tie as I have to start my week with an innocent juice splashed one following :

3. Spurs’ players will be kicking themselves. Or at least trying to – there’s a reasonable chance they’ll miss.

It’s 5am here and I wasn’t ready for that.

Thank you.
Adam L. (still chuckling gleefully/evily) Gooner in France

 

Pundit consistency please
Just watched Match of the Day and the “experts” were talking about the penalty decisions in the Forest v Brentford game, there were 3 incidents including the one that was given, and in there opinion none of them should have been given as contact was minimal, ok fair enough except 2 minutes earlier the same “experts” were praising Keven De Bruyne for the penalty he won. To my uneducated eye all the incidents were the same, so why have one opinion for some teams and another for Citeh?
Andrew Goonerabroad Brown

 

Here’s Ed on Palace as usual
*The sixth of Crystal Palace’s seven winnable pre-World Cup games took place yesterday, as they travelled north of the Thames (and therefore into the North of England) to take on West Ham United. The previous five of these games have yielded 13 points.

United have long been a useful benchmark for Palace, finishing ahead of them without seeming hugely out of reach, and staying ahead of them in part thanks to a transfer strategy that routinely involves seeing who the Eagles are in for and offering them more money. For a more direct comparison, this season these teams have faced seven of the same opponents: Palace have three wins and a draw, United two wins and a draw.

*All of that is to say that this was always going to be a close game. You have to go back to January 2017 to find a meeting of these sides settled by a margin of more than one goal. Since then, there have been 11 meetings: six draws and three wins by a single goal each.

*Patrick Vieira made a couple of tactical changes to the side that had beaten Southampton. Cheick Doucoure returned as the defensive midfielder, and Wilfried Zaha moved to the centre-forward position in place of the injured Odsonne Edouard. Vieira knows how to play to his audience and encouraging Zaha to make mincemeat of Craig Dawson, long a bete noire of the Palace fans after he knocked out Julian Speroni with an unpunished forearm smash several years ago.

*The visitors dominated the early exchanges but couldn’t make their possession count, and inevitably, United took the lead. Said Benrahma was not particularly challenged by any of the four Palace players around him, and took full advantage with a superb finish.

*Palace, much like their fellow midtable side Liverpool, are surprisingly good when they go behind. Again, like the Reds, it’s been late goals taking away advantageous positions that has been their undoing. They didn’t get dissuaded from their plan, continuing to press high. Eberechi Eze won the ball in the right back position and played in Zaha, who went round Dawson with ease and fired home an equaliser.

*The Eagles were the better side, but for a long time it felt like the game was going to peter out into a draw. Then, United screamed their way into being awarded a penalty. Michail Antonio dribbled past Marc Guehi, who put out a hand. On the replay, Antonio’s fall is very “I was lightly touched and possibly fouled, but if I don’t fall down in an exaggerated fashion you’ll never give me a penalty”. It was embellished instead of entirely fabricated, which is probably why he wasn’t shown a yellow card for simulation; something Cabin Pressure fans will recognise as “did you make that hole, Arthur?” “No, it was already there, I just made it easier to see”.

I saw on the live text that Jordan Ayew was booked for diving. Haven’t seen it, don’t condone it.

*Having had an eventful second half, things got even more memorable for Antonio. In October 2017, with United 2-1 up at Selhurst Park in the dying moments, Antonio had the ball out wide and put in a cross to no one that was easily claimed by Speroni, who sent it up field for Ruben Loftus-Cheek to assist an equaliser for Zaha. Yesterday, with four teammates queueing up to score a winner, Antonio once again put a terrible cross into the goalkeeper’s arms. Vicente Guaita fed the ball to Eze, who in turn passed to Zaha. The Ivorian found Michael Olise on the right, who dribbled at the back-pedalling left-back (why can’t footballers run backwards properly) and put a curling shot in the far corner to claim all three points.

Olise got some attention after the match for his spartan approach to being interviewed. He’s 20 years old and has only recently found himself in the national spotlight. As long as his football keeps doing the talking with such articulacy, everything else can wait.

*The comparison between Bukayo Saka and Zaha in 16 Conclusions makes perfect sense. It’s an impossible situation to get right every time: to protect skilful players properly, the threshold for a foul needs to be lower, therefore creating more stoppages in the game. However, people prefer to see the game flow and sometimes this means letting some possible fouls go. Naturally, if you’re the victim of an unpunished foul you get a keener sense of injustice than a player deemed to have committed a soft foul. What certainly doesn’t help is people saying that the likes of Saka and Zaha should take it as a compliment that people want to kick them off the park, because they can’t stop them fairly.

*One of the most unintentionally funny aspects of modern social media is seeing football supporters tweet and retweet loads when their team is winning and then go completely silent when things turn around. This is true of a beer writer I follow who happens to support United, but an added bonus was the Cambridge United fan who was live tweeting his every move (and pint) all weekend right up to kickoff in their FA Cup game at Curzon Ashton, but curiously failed to mention the Nash had earned a replay.
Ed Quoththeraven

 

Do Arsenal fans see Man City as rivals yet?
There’s been a lot of discussion about hopes and expectations this season for Arsenal given how well they’re going. Clearly there’s a split in the opinions because there always will be, fans of the same club don’t think with the same mind. But here’s a test of what your real feelings are and you can say whether or not they align with what you’re saying to others. When Haaland scored at the end to win the game for Man City were you disappointed and cursing how late the goal was or completely indifferent? That should tell you all you need to know.

My view is you should have been disappointed when the goal went in. Arsenal are title contenders until they’re not. And best of luck to you.
Jim, Norwich

 

Do they need a prolific striker? It never helped before…
This morning’s mailbox entry from Stu in France about Arsenal needing a striker led me to a quick google.

I am going to pick 3 of the best strikers Arsenal have had in my recent memory (Henry aside) and their best season’s goal scoring wise.

Adebayor – 2007-8 – 48apps – 30 goals – 3rd in the league, no trophies won.

Van Persie – 2011 – 12 – 48 apps – 37 goals – 3rd in the league, no trophies won.

Aubameyang – 2018 – 19 – 51 apps 31 goals – 5th in the league, no trophies won.

Now, there are obvious mitigating circumstances at play here and I am not suggesting a prolific goal scorer is a bad thing, but it’s no guarantee either. Just look across the way at Spurs and Kane. Lots of goals for the man with no tangible reward. I would like to see Jesus score a few more goals sure, but if spreading them across the team leads to success them I certainly wont be complaining. Lets save any real complaining until we have something to legitimately complain about.
Andrew

 

Donkey king
I still don’t think we’re going to win the league – but it’s nice to see that our success seems to be just as annoying as Mr Arsenal surviving every week on Strictly.

Gooners on social media move like Iron Maiden fans. I couldn’t care less as I don’t watch the show – but Adams is getting that glitterball.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

 

Jingle Bells
If Arsenal beat Wolves on Saturday 12th November, they will be top of the table at Christmas. That’s odd.
Mike, LFC, London

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