Europa-less Newcastle Shine While Manchester United And Chelsea Are At The Bottom: Corresponding Fixtures Table

Newcastle’s victory at White Hart Lane, thanks in large part to their goalkeeper Tim Krul’s heroics, established their position in the top half of the table. While Newcastle were lucky to find the Dutch stopper in the form of his life, there has been nothing lucky about their performances this season so far.

In a clear example of the age old adage that “things change very quickly in football”, it was not looking this rosy for Newcastle a couple of weeks before this win. Having lost the Tyne-Wear derby to a struggling Sunderland side and with owner Mike Ashley deciding to ban local newspapers from matches and press conferences, there was a festering sense of discontent amongst the fans with both the on-field and off-the-field affairs at the club. In fact, three local newspapers were banned for committing the sin of covering a protest by a fans group.

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Two weeks later, things seem to be looking up at St. James’ Park- at least, on the field. Having defeated Chelsea quite convincingly at home, they went to White Hart Lane and walked away with all the 3 points on the back of a clinical first half performance and a goalkeeping masterclass in the second half.

White Hart Lane has not been a happy hunting ground for Newcastle in the recent past. They suffered a defeat last season there and were trumped 5-0 by Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham-who were then considered to be playing the best football in the Premier League- the season before. Chelsea, on the other hand, have been handed defeats at St.James’ Park the last two times.

So, let us see how Newcastle are faring in our corresponding fixtures table. As has already been mentioned in this series of articles, for the sake of uniformity we are comparing Hull City’s fixtures to Reading; Crystal Palace’s fixtures to QPR; and Cardiff City’s fixtures to Wigan. And this is how our corresponding fixtures table looks like 11 weeks into the Premier League season.

Teams

Games Played

Corresponding Points difference

Premier League Points

Premier League Positon

Goal Difference

Southampton

11

14

22

3

10

Aston Villa

11

8

14

11

-1

Newcastle United

11

6

17

9

-1

Liverpool

11

5

23

2

11

Hull City

11

4

14

12

-5

Manchester City

11

3

19

8

16

Tottenham Hotspur

11

2

20

7

3

Everton

11

1

20

6

4

Cardiff City

11

1

12

14

-6

Fulham

11

0

10

18

-9

Stoke City

11

-1

10

17

-4

West Bromwich Albion

11

-2

14

10

0

Norwich City

11

-2

11

15

-12

Arsenal

11

-3

25

1

12

West Ham United

11

-3

10

16

-2

Sunderland

11

-3

7

19

-14

Swansea City

11

-4

12

13

0

Chelsea

11

-5

21

4

8

Crystal Palace

11

-7

4

20

-15

Manchester United

11

-8

20

5

5

As we can see, Newcastle are 6 points better off than last season having taken 17 points from 11 games; they took 11 points from the same games last season. One reason for Newcastle’s improved performances this season is, arguably, their absence from Europa League. Last season, Newcastle suffered due to a lack of investment in the squad. Having failed to reinforce the squad, their lack of squad depth meant fatigue crept in, with Thursday night matches in far-off corners in Europe taking a toll on the wafer-thin squad.

There is some merit in the argument that the Europa League does affect the league performance. Tottenham’s results in the Premier League, after the Europa league games, have been mixed. At least, the North Londoners have a very good squad to fall back on and rotate. Newcastle suffered last season because of a lack of squad depth (brought about by a lack of signings in the summer of 2012), and despite signing a slew of players from the French league in January, their progress to the quarter finals of the Europa League meant that their league form suffered considerably.

 Key Players: Remy and Cabaye

Cabaye-Man-United1

So far, Newcastle’s best performers this season have been Loic Remy and Yohan Cabaye. The French striker is one of the most prolific forwards in the league with his 7 goals making him the joint 2nd top scorer in the Premier League alongside Robin Van Persie of Manchester United. It must be remembered that last season Newcastle had to contend with constant speculation over the future of their top striker, Demba Ba. The Senegalese striker ultimately left Newcastle in the January window,  but failed to hit the form he showed in 2011-12 leaving Newcastle short of firepower up front. With Papis Cisse too struggling to continue his initial form, Newcastle looked short of incision upfront. Remy, though, seems to have mitigated the problem this season. Despite Cisse’s poor run of form Remy has filled the gap created by Demba Ba’s departure.

Yohan Cabaye’s is a different case. One of the league’s most consistent performers, Cabaye had a very indifferent start to the season. Having expressed an interest in moving to Arsenal, whose bid of £10 million pounds was rejected by Newcastle, he was omitted from the squad during the initial part of the season by Alan Pardew. It was also reported that he refused to play in the game against West Ham.

With the transfer to Arsenal failing to materialize, Cabaye returned to the starting lineup. Despite being booed by a small section of the Newcastle faithful on his return, he has quickly returned to his composed and efficient best at the heart of Newcastle’s midfield. Be it his sublime delivery from the freekick for Yoann Gouffran’s goal that set them on their way to a 2-0 win over Chelsea or his goal against Liverpool, Cabaye seems to have well and truly put the summer saga behind him and delivered the goods.

What goes unnoticed with Cabaye is his defensive work and his overall contribution to Newcastle’s midfield With 2.3 tackles per game, he is only behind Cheick Tiote- a midfielder known for his tough tackling- and Debuchy from this Newcastle team. With 8 ball recoveries (2nd highest in the team behind Gouffran), 6 out of 7 successful tackles (game highest) and 3 interceptions (team highest) in the Tottenham game, his defensive efforts were of immense value.

He also created 3 chances (passes that lead to a shot) showcasing a potent combination of attacking verve and defensive discipline. His performance in France’s win over Ukraine in the World Cup qualifier-”He ran the game,” according to Arsene Wenger- is a testament to his confidence and that can only be good for Newcastle.

Stats courtesy: whoscored.com and FourFourTwo.com/StatsZone

 

 

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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