Newcastle United drop out of Champions League places

After Saturday’s matches, Newcastle United found themselves in a Champions League position.

However, by Sunday night they had fallen out of the top four.

A Harry Kane goal in the sixth minute of injury time, giving Spurs a point at Stamford Bridge.

Conte’s team moving up into the fourth Champions League slot and nudging Newcastle United down into a Europa League place.

This is how the top of the Premier League currently looks after the weekend action (with Liverpool v Palace on Monday night to complete the second round of PL matches):

6 Man City (GD +6)

6 Arsenal (GD +4)

4 Brentford (GD +4)

4 Tottenham (GD +3)

4 Newcastle United (GD +2)

4 Leeds (GD +1)

4 Chelsea (GD +1)

4 Brighton (GD +1)

Statistics and league tables are meaningless after only two lots of matches, I hear you say.

Well, yes, they are…but not completely.

Last season, it took Steve Bruce’s sacking and nine matches before on 23 October 2021, Newcastle United eventually reached four points last season.

It was then into November and coincidentally a 1-1 draw at Brighton before Newcastle exceeded that four points total.

By mid-November this season, the Premier League will have packed up for its World Cup break.

Again, even though only two matches for Newcastle United, there is a lot we can take from them.

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The first weekend of the season saw Newcastle absolutely hammer Nottingham Forest, didn’t give them a kick. Forest didn’t have a single shot on target, only one corner. In comparison, United had 23 shots with 10 of them on target, plus 11 corners. In the end, NUFC won by ‘only’ two goals but it should have been four or five, such was the complete control.

After the match…Nottingham Forest are obviously rubbish our enemies (in the media, punditry, rival fans) said, relegation fodder clearly.

Eight days later and Forest beat West Ham and keep a clean sheet, the promoted team have 13 shots with six of them on target, plus six corners. This win against the team who finished seventh last season, clearly no fluke.

On Saturday, down on the south coast, Newcastle got a very credible 0-0 draw at Brighton. The team who six days earlier went to Old Trafford and deservedly won. Yes Brighton were the better team overall on the day but this was no battering, a very even first half where Newcastle actually had more possession and had a goal dubiously disallowed. Nick Pope made a couple of excellent saves and dealt with everything else well, a couple of clearances off the line but this was no unbelievable escape with a point, as it would have been if Forest had escaped St James’ Park with one. Yes Brighton bossed the second half and there were a few spells of concerted pressure, but in total the home side managed seven shots on target and seven corners, not exceptional.

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Indeed, I think it became clear fairly quickly in the second half that Eddie Howe was seeing this as a tough match where grinding out a point would be a good outcome. Newcastle going more defensive and trying to not leave space between the lines, the substitutions then confirming that this wasn’t Eddie Howe going all out for a win or bust.

Very early days obviously but elsewhere we are seeing clear signs of what could be in store for the Premier League the rest of the season.

A lot or people were confidently taking for granted that the three promoted teams were going straight back down but as well as Forest beating West Ham, Bournemouth have already defeated Villa, whilst Fulham with two excellent draws at home to Liverpool and away at Wolves – the latter should have been a win but Mitro failing with a penalty.

Meanwhile, down at the bottom, Man Utd, West Ham and Everton have all lost their opening two matches.

Going back to Newcastle United, last season they conceded six goals in their opening two matches (defeats), this time it is only they and Man City who are yet to concede a goal. Indeed, Newcastle have kept clean sheets in five of their last eight Premier League matches and two of three where they did concede, were against Liverpool and Man City. It is a nice habit to get into and when you get days like Saturday where the attacking threat isn’t what you would like it to be, a clean sheet at least ensures you come away with something.

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Finally, just a reminder that we are currently on course for a Champions League place.

Averaging exactly two points a game so far, over a full season that average would give you 76 points, enough for third last season and second in 2020/21.

If Newcastle United are still averaging two points or better after the next three games (Man City home, Wolves and Liverpool away), then people will really be looking at NUFC and wondering just what might happen this season…

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