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It 6/6 for Newcastle – can the form last for the run-in?

Posted on April 23rd, 2012 | 62 Comments |

Premier League table, 23rd April 2012
How does the run-in look?
With four games left to play Newcastle United find themselves in 4th place and battling for a Champions League place. So how does the run-in look for us and the teams around us?

Saturday’s win against Stoke made it six wins on the trot and it saw us leap into 4th place, ahead of a Spurs side that seems to be going through an extremely rough spell.

It’s ours to lose, as they say. But we have a fairly tough last four games compared to most of the teams around us, so I thought I’d look at the run-ins of us and the various teams around us to see how things might affect us.

For us it’s:

Wigan – Away
Chelsea – Away
Man City – Home
Everton – Away

Hmm, I’m not keen on the fact that three of our four remaining fixtures are away and all of them could pose problems. Wigan will be fighting to avoid relegation, which could make this a tricky fixture, but out of all the remaining games I’d suggest this is the most likely to net us all three points. Chelsea away will be extremely tough as they’ll fancy their chances of a good finish too, although their Champions League involvement might serve as a distraction to them and give us a chance of taking a point at Stamford Bridge.

Next is a visit from Man City who – depending on what happens in next weekend’s Manchester derby – could still be in with a fair shout of the title. We’re at home though and I reckon that if our form against them is anything like it has been recently, we’ll at least get a draw. The final match against Everton is no walk in the Goodison Park for us either. Everton have done their usual thing of finding some form late in the season and their comeback against Man Utd on the weekend showed what they’re capable of.

At a guess I’d say we’ll get 3 points against Wigan and at least 2 points from the other three games – that’s my most pessimistic view, so that’s 5/12 for the run-in. With my optimistic hat on, I reckon we could beat Man City at home, Everton away and get a point at Stamford Bridge, which would mean 10/12 for the final four games. Maybe the truth will be somewhere in the middle of both those views and we’ll end up with 7 or 8 more points.

Spurs have the following fixtures remaining:

Blackburn – Home
Bolton – Away
Villa – Away
Fulham – Home

If we were talking about the Spurs that hammered us 5-0, I’d have said they’d make a clean sweep of those games and take 12/12 points, but the Spurs of late makes them unpredictable. I do, as it happens, think that ‘Arry will have read them the riot act after their defeat to QPR and that they’ll improve a bit for the final four games. I reckon they’re good for 8-10 points from their run-in.

Chelsea‘s run-in looks like this:

QPR – Home
Newcastle – Home
Liverpool – Away
Blackburn – Home

But they’ve also got:

Barcelona – Away
Liverpool – Wembley

That all makes for a fairly heavy fixture list, which is to our benefit. I still can’t see them dropping too many points from their run-in though. I think Liverpool might hold them to a draw and if we’re lucky so might we, but I think they’ll dispatch QPR and Blackburn without too much trouble. So I reckon it’s 8-10 points from their last four games.

Arsenal aren’t safe from being overtaken yet either. They’re 3 points ahead of us but only have 3 games left:

Stoke – Away
Norwich – Home
West Brom – Away

They should get 9 points from their last three games and make certain of 3rd place but their away form has been patchy and I reckon they could drop points against Stoke and/or West Brom, so I think they’ll get 4-6 from their remaining games.

So, taking my pessimistic view of all the games (for all teams), we would end up 5th. Taking my optimistic view of all the games (for all teams) we’d end up 4th.

Either way, it’s going to be tight. I would suggest we have the toughest run-in of all the teams in terms of Premier League opposition, although it has to be conceded that Chelsea’s run-in is tough in terms of the number of games they have to play. We’re the ‘in form’ team of those around us and I think we have a chance of beating any opposition if that form continues but our form will certainly be tested in those last three fixtures.

If truth be told, I’m just pleased that we’re in the mix challenging for a Champions League place at this stage of the season, which has far exceeded the expectations I had at the start of the season. I’d still be happy enough with a Europa League place, but the Champions League is within our grasp and it’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of it.

What do you think?

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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62 Responses

  1. Just wanted to say how great the blog is. I live in London and thus keeps me I’m touch with the the toon.

  2. It won’t be easy by I like your optomistic view on us finishing 4th. Wigan will be tricky and they had a good result this weekend, Arsenal will probably stay where they are leaving us and Chelsea to fight for 4th. Personally I think we can beat Chelsea, who luckily for us have other things on their minds right now.

    A question, if we finish 4th and Chelsea win the Champions League do we still qualify?

  3. It’s simple.

    Just win all four games and it doesn’t matter what the others do!

    Mind you, even if we did, there’d still be folk on here claiming we only did it because they told Pardew to play 4-3-3 LOL!

  4. Sammy J says:
    April 23, 2012 at 10:16 am
    Just wanted to say how great the blog is. I live in London and thus keeps me I’m touch with the the toon.
    __________________________________________

    Best United blog on the web Sammy mate! :)

  5. I thought so, but was just checking.

    I agree this is by far and away the best Toon blog on the net, the writers are all very funny and have a great way of putting things across, utd111.com is very good to. I’m here everyday usually forgetting that I also have my own blog to run!

  6. @UTD111 No, unfortunatley it’s not a Newcastle one I decided to write about TV and own Movies Muisc & Television.com, feel free to check it out. I write about Football (amongst other things) at Hubpages with little success, you can check out my ugly mug at the following link http://martyv25.hubpages.com/

  7. If Chelsea win the Champions League then –
    – if they finish 4th nothing changes and NUFC qualify for Europa

    – if they finish outside the top 4 then under UEFA rules chelsea will qualify for the Champions League at the expense of the 4th placed team

    – and the 4th team is allocated an additional Europa League place

    – so we are in the Europa league come what may

    – we would be in the CL if we are 4th

    – but could drop down to Europa if Chelsea win the Ch Cup but finish 5th or lower in the league

  8. we play chelski just before their FA cup final so lets get stuck into them, let them worry about it

  9. Supermac@12

    Totally agree – the way we’re playing at the moment, we should fear no-one

    They however should be very worried about us!!

  10. Totally agree we are the ones who should be feared in the league right now.

    Even if Chelsea do beat Barcelona, for them to go and beat either Bayern or Madrid is a big ask, but we are in Europe either way so it’s a case of job done as no one expected us to be where we are in the league.

  11. I do remember alot of comments throughout the entire season saying we WILL end up 7th or 8th ;)

    I honestly think if we play the same style against Wigan and Everton we can take the lot. They do look like tough games but I thought that about Stoke and Swansea.

    Really hoping for 3rd or 4th, not keen on Europa league as theres too many games and seems to have a huge effecent on league performance. Even if we get 4th and dumped out on qualifiers I’d be happy.

  12. We shouldn’t forget that the so called big clubs want most of our players this summer, they are probably looking at the fixture list and thinking s*&t we have to play Newcastle.

  13. On current form, I would fancy us against any team in the league, however such a tough run in will be a drain. Luckily, we have a striker in Cisse who at the moment is needing minimal chances to score, which none of the teams around us have. Either, even ‘settling’ for the Europa is fine by me, as long as we try and kick on next season. And I hope Pardew goes for it in all 3 games and keeps the 433 formation, id prefer to go for it and fail than hold back.

  14. It’s a tricky final set of fixtures but the way we’re playing I fancy our chances. Spuds could really capitulate as they have some real scraps coming up. Chelski are still a worry as they’re finding form again. Barca looked sluggish by there standards @ the weekend but they’ll be desperate to beat Chelkski having conceded the league title & should murder the blues laying the groundwork for us to scatter there ashes!

  15. just FYI for all:

    If we finish 4th and lose in the Qualifiers we still definitely drop into Europa…

    :)

  16. Sammy J @18:

    Chelsea were awful against Arsenal. They seemed like they played for a draw.

    I am liking the new role that Gutierrez is playing in. He really doesn’t have a good goals or assist record but keeps the ball well and can run all day. Others will say it is about time Pardew figured this out. I would argue that we needed his energy on the left as protection for Taylor and Santon earlier in the season.

  17. I remember this conversation several weeks ago when we were discussing the computations to qualify for Europe. The simple answer was to forget what other teams might do and go out and win our own. We have done just that and ensured that we are in Europe. If we want a CL spot, it needs to be more of the same. Don’t look back or sideways, just keep winning games and we will be there. It is possible. HWTL!

  18. It’s Wigan, Chelsea and Man City who are probably more concerned about us than we about them.

    Wigan are fighting for survival and that can stimulate them to play well above themselves. But it can also generate nerves and uncertainty which leads to mistakes and a well below par performance.

    Chelsea may be deflated after being knocked out of the Champions League this Tuesday or after a semi-final win be anxious not to sustain injuries before the Champions League Final and the FA Cup Final. This may be to our advantage as they may want to rest key players.

    Man City could either be all fired up as they think they can win the Premiership after beating ManU or thinking about their summer holidays after losing to ManU this week. They may be totally laid back or firing on all cylinders at SJP. We should know more this weekend.

    Everton will be on their holidays. We will have qualified for Europe but which competition?

    Whatever happens it’s been a brilliant season with brilliant performances from all the players, manager and coaches.

  19. As far as the run in is concerned, looks like ours is the toughest.
    Not to worry, we should approach these games with the knowledge we are in the uafa cup regardless.
    Which in fact might be a better place for us, easier competition, plus a chance of going all the way.
    Normally teams like ourselves dont get too far on the Champions League.
    With the experience of competition in the uefa cup, next year after strengthening the side, we can go for the big one.

  20. chuck,

    fair comment mate.

    But,
    Why should we just go the traditional route, we haven’t so far.
    Bollox to tradition, just keep playing the way we are, let others worry about us & see where it takes us…That’s served us well all season, in fact for 3 seasons now.

  21. The reserves beat liverpool in the final game of the season, 1 – 2, Moyo & Abeid getting the goals.

    Nice!

  22. GS
    Yeah, i had mentioned the role Jonas plays normally, basically a fetch and carry defensive left winger, without a lot of end product.
    And had suggested due to both his defensive capeabilities and the fact he can run all day, that he be converted to a DM, which is where he is now playing, in the 4-3-3.
    Alongside the middle three of Tiote, Cabaye and himself.
    I would have a slightly different lineup myself, placing Tiote and Jonas in front of the back four, with Cabaye as the back end of a triangle, with Cisse up front and Ba & HBA on either side, a balance between offense and defence.
    Nothing too complicated.
    However I believe it will take some time before AP lets go of his eight men defending set up and gives the side a more offensive look.
    But hell! what do i know boot owt ?

  23. Kamar@23

    That’s pretty much how I see it mate.

    I think also, because Newcastle fans are used to failure, we’re pretty bulletproof. If we don’t make the CL it won’t be a disaster – but to be honest, we’re the form team in the EPL and playing the best football….so we might just get there!!

  24. CLINTON
    Traditional route ?
    I’m only suggesting we have no pressure having assured ourselves of a place in one or the other, of the european competitions.
    And may benefit from what could turn out to be a longer run, ergo more dosh, in the UEFA group.

  25. Chuck says:
    April 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    “However I believe it will take some time before AP lets go of his eight men defending set up and gives the side a more offensive look.
    But hell! what do i know boot owt ?”

    To be fair Chuck, for the first hour or so of our last few games, we have been highly offensive. Pardiola’s full backs have been pushing so far up that they have in fact been de facto wingers, making Jonas and Cabaye tuck in more centrally. It’s almost like 2-5-3, or a Cruyffian 3-4-3 if you count Tiote as some kind of sweeper in front of the two centre backs.

  26. worky,

    aye!

    chuck,

    i was saying/meaning that the trad route of believing that we won’t get that far etc…
    mate, i wasn’t having a go at ya’.
    I’m generally agreeing but there’s more cash in the CL, quicker & more prestige & in fact, i think there’s less games to play too.

  27. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    April 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    “worky,

    didn’t Martinez at wigan play a 343 recently?”

    I’m not a Wigan expert, Clint. They’ve mostly seemed to be a 4-5-1, with possible aspirations to be a more attacking 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 if they weren’t being pinned back and getting beaten so much. However, in the last few games they have indeed transformed themselves with what seems to be a 3-4-3 formation.

  28. worky,

    me either, but it’s what i’ve observed recently in some high-profile games, namely manusa & arse.

  29. @ GS 21
    Astute observation – Jonas has been a beast. His commitment, workrate & defensive understanding have been first rate. While he may lack the guile to flourish around the box that Benny et al. Have started to display his experience playing further up the field & carrying the ball have contributed to a fluency from the back to the front. Santon is adapting and should enable us to build on a more sophisticated style. He had the engine and ball skills. How much of our new found fluidity is down to Pardiola is a mystery & I 4 1 was calling for it earlier(4,3,3 Benny & Santon inclusion) but who knows maybe its impeccable timing & man management that has allowed the boys to hit such form & exceed expectations. One thing is certain Pardew deserves credit for the commitment & cohesion the squad play with.

  30. I see victory for us against Wigan. The lads have been awesome I can’t wait. I do think we need Champions League if we’re to build upon the success. EUFA cup poses a conundrum albiet a welcome one we didn’t foresee @ the start of the year. Anyone know anymore about Amilfitano? Would be be pushing for a first team spot or more a cover player?

  31. I bet Jonas would play in goal if he was asked.

    He’s a lynch-pin & i was well pleased that he got to Captain the team in Colo’s absence, top man!

  32. WORKEY
    As you know i have advocated a 4-6 lineup, with intrchangeable roles, plus it,s my belief everyone should be able to score, not just the role of two or so strikers.
    After all, excluding Messi, where do Barcas goals come from ?
    But to KISS*, would like to see a lineup something like this,
    *************Krul**************
    *******Saylor****Colo.*********
    Simpson******************Santon
    *******Tiote*****Jonas*********
    ************Cabaye*************
    Demba Ba***************Ben Arfa
    *************Cisse*************
    * keep it simple stupid.
    Course there’s always the horses for courses lineups and i dont mean to imply this particular lineup would be a one fits all, but one step at a time, just like 4-4-2 to 4-3-3, if thats in fact the present intended lineup ?

  33. I would’nt be overconfident on beating Wigan.
    A, for the most part, young side, with some decent talent.
    A good young manager, who has shown confidence in his side and believed they could survive the drop.
    At present they are on a roll, beating both Arsenal and Man. U. and with the desperate need of points by both sides, no mean feat.
    That plus they were the better side in both games, speaks for itself.
    Which raises the question, do sides fight harder to survive the drop rather than those looking for a European spot?
    Right now Wigan needs points in order to stay out of the drop zone, we should , i believe see a good game.

  34. Jonas can also act,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GfoXoe5mX4

    What are the rules for home grown players in Europe? I would like Simpson and especially Guthrie to stay, but I dunno if they will. With our scouting preferred to the continent, surely there will come a time when we’ll have to dig a little deeper for Home grown talent…

    Harper (contract, probably off))
    Simpson (doesn’t sign soon, he’s off)
    Guthrie (contract up)
    Smith (he’s gone surely)
    Gosling
    Williamson
    S. Taylor
    R. Taylor
    Elliot
    Perch
    Sammy Ameobi (dunno if he’s Nigerian like Shola now)
    Ferguson (dunno if he’s now playing for Ireland or Northern Ireland)

    There our current ‘first team’ players, and you could argue if we’re to carry on and push for top six every year, we’ll want even better players than them. I guess some of them come under ‘home grown’ because of age, and the duration they’ve been in the UK, like Vuckic possibly will… Our first eleven looks sound enough, but our bench is bare, and we’ve got a lot of games coming up next season! :-)

  35. I thought Saturday’s game was the best of the season. We played without fear.

    Do you think Demba Ba will be mad that Cisse has not only nicked his goals but his goal celebration???

  36. Sammy J says:
    April 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    “Anyone know anymore about Amilfitano? Would be be pushing for a first team spot or more a cover player?”

    Sammy, he’s 22 but he’ll probably be more of a Mehdi Abeid than a Ben Arfa or Cabaye, ie “one for the future” or a squad player on his current standing. His brother, Morgan, at Marseilles is a much bigger player.

  37. workyticket says:
    April 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    “That looks like a 4-2-3-1 to me, Chuck.”

    Or a Mike Bassett (ish) style 2-2-2-1-2-1 formation.

  38. Chuck @44:

    Wigan are playing with a lot of heart but they don’t have real goalscorers. Even though I thought Pardew got the tactics right at Swansea, I would much prefer that we set about Wigan – finish off the season with a bang.

    I say go for The Champions League. Even if we get battered by Barcelona, we would have still played Barcelona. Who would have thought that when we surrendered at Villa 2 years ago.

  39. Workey
    Ermm! yeah.
    The difference being the diamond formed by Cisse on the leading point with Cabaye, the playmaker/cleanup scorer at the back end, with of course both HBA & Ba both to the left and right.
    And by the way, we could play Ba and HBA on either side, as they are adaptable.
    Very much like the pairing of N’Zogbia and Duff, where they confused defenders, by interchanging roles.
    But lets not get carried away here, these are things for down the road.

  40. Jimbob
    There are players, born in the UK, who elect to play for national sides, like Nigeria & ROI.
    Most qualify through perental nationality.
    For the most part, i believe this qualifies them as home grown, i very much doubt whether Fergusons decision which Irish side to play for, makes any difference in that regard.
    Though like the Irish Rugby side, IMO it’s about time both Irish football leagues got to-gether and formed both one league and one national side.
    But i’m afraid change comes slowly, not unlike the FA and goal line technology.

  41. As long as we have that 433 formation with ben arfa, ba, cisse and cabaye in midfield aiding our attack and our back 4 with gutierrez and tiote supporting them then that’s all our bases covered and we can take our best game to anyone. We’ve already exceeded expectation but that’s still no reason to take it easy. I know our players will want to fight for it as much as they can. No reason we can’t make it 10/10. May sound optimistic but I genuinely believe pards has found a winning formula with the club. NUFC TIL I DIE!!!

  42. CLiNT,

    Colo’s class. I’m really happy for all of the players, but esp the ones who stuck around after 2008 and made this season possible. That includes those who aren’t with us anymore, but esp Colo and Jonas. They work hard week in and week out and there’s 0 controversy around them. No stupid tweets, no drama. They seem to be the heart of the side.

    It’s crazy to think that I’ll be disappointed if we don’t nick that 4th spot. We’ve more than exceeded our expectations, but man… to get that last spot…

  43. that time of the season when new kits are out…guessing we will unveil our’s in the city game

  44. Yeah, dont forget both Jonas & Colo. have been paid pretty well, during those loyal to NUFC years.

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