3 reasons why Steve Bruce is failing at Newcastle United

Newcastle United are among the favourites to be relegated this season, this after finishing 13th with 44 points last season. The drop off has been significant and it seems that manager Steve Bruce is hitting a wall.

Bruce’s appointment did not go down well with fans of the club but he did seem to punch above his weight and only finished last season 1 point behind the total that Rafa Benitez had achieved the season before. That was an eyeopener in many ways and there was a belief that Bruce could do well at the club. Owner Mike Ashley saw Bruce’s appointment as a win-win situation given that Bruce was a long standing fan of the club and that Benitez was always asking for reinforcements, Ashley knew that Bruce wouldn’t ask so many questions and just get on with the job.

But this season Bruce’s Newcastle have been exposed and with just 9 games left to play for them they are only 2 points from the drop and in 17th place. The Magpies recent defeat to Brighton was huge. If the 3-0 score line wasn’t enough Brighton were a direct rival for survival and Graham Potter’s side have now moved 4 points clear of Newcastle.

So what has gone wrong with Newcastle, where Fulham could catch them and send the Magpies down, let’s take a look.

Joe Linton

It doesn’t seem fair to blame one player for a teams failings and let’s make it clear Newcastle as a team are failing. But when a club are not getting the wins and not scoring goals eyes will always fall to who is up front. In this case the Magpies have Joelinton a player who broke the clubs transfer record for £40m.

Joelinton has been, up until now, one of the poorest signings in Premier League history. He has scored 3 league goals in 59 games for the club and seven overall from 70. Indeed since starting his career back in 2014 Joelinton has only scored 26 league goals overall. When Newcastle have needed the goals to make that difference Joelinton has been wanting on too many occasions.

The Graeme Jones factor

Newcastle needed to be shaken up and in January Steve Bruce brought in Graeme Jones who had worked previously with the Belgian national side and also Bournemouth as his assistant manager. Jones got to it and changed up tactics within the team and prepared them for the Everton game at the end of January. It is thought that Bruce wasn’t the happiest person at the club that Jones had stepped in in this way. However Newcastle played one of their best games of the season to beat Everton 2-0.

Since then Bruce has taken some of that power back and although it hasn’t been confirmed it’s possible that the two are not seeing eye to eye. Bruce is stubborn and playing his way and he is letting that blind him in how the club must make advancements.

Luck has run out

Every club needs some luck along the way but under Bruce Newcastle have had some decisions go there way and have been able to not play very well but escape with a last minute win or get a draw.

Take the Leeds United match earlier this season, true Leeds ran out 5-2 winners but at one stage Newcastle were well in the game and it was 2-2. However the club had been very poor that day and Leeds would have been wondering how the score line was so close. On that day Newcastle didn’t get away with it.

But how about even earlier in the season when Tottenham completely outplayed Bruce’s team and yet in the 90th minute the score was just 1-0 to Jose Mourinho’s team. Very late on in injury time Newcastle who had been very poor throughout the game were awarded a penalty, from which they scored from- and it was a disputed one at that. The penalty which ended the game at 1-1 was the clubs only shot on target the whole game.

It just seems that especially since the New Year that Newcastle’s luck has run out. Could they go down? The answer is a yes given their second half to the season form where from a possible 45 points they have earned just 10 and won just two times, scoring just 11 goals in that time. Judging on the last 15 games Newcastle would be in 19th place and have earned 2 points less than Championship bound Sheffield United which just underlines how problematic the clubs decline has been.

It looks like that final place will go down to the wire between Fulham and Newcastle, and it will be fascinating to see how this one plays out. As for Steve Bruce he will most certainly lose his job if the club are relegated but if they stay up, even by finishing in 17th place you get the feeling that his close friend and club owner Mike Ashley will be more than happy to keep Bruce on the payroll, at the dismay of the fans.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Liverpool 0-1 Fulham

This game between Liverpool and Fulham only had 1 goal, but what a significant and history making game it was all the same.

You see Liverpool have never lost 5 games in a row at home before, but that’s old news. The defeat to Fulham made it six games in a row, Liverpool in their 139 year history have, at least for this period, never looked so poor. This is all the while astonishing given that for the past 18 months the club has arguably been the best club side in the world. How funny and quite complex football can be and the implosion of this great club chortles along at rapid speed.

So devastating has Liverpool’s form been that one has to question if they will be playing in the Champions League next season? This comes after reaching the final in 2018 and winning the competition the year after. The defeat to Fulham has left Liverpool 7 points adrift of a top four place and for now they look out of contention. However surely one would assume with the players that the Reds boast they will find their swagger again before the end of the season to recharge their batteries.

For now the game at Anfield swung on a different story and that was Fulham’s possible survival. The Cottagers have looked destined for a speedy return to the Championship for much of the season but since December Scott Parker has got his troops pointing in the right direction. Their hunger and desire has been brilliant albeit the majority of their results in the past three months have ended in draws, but by and large they are picking up points here and there and avoiding defeats. That’s how you survive in arguably the worlds most competitive league.

The only goal of the game in which Fulham would win 1-0 came just before half time. Mario Lemina was today’s hero for Parker’s side he had a bit to do but the ball was nicely set up for him in the area and he was able to score with relative ease. Up until the goal it was Fulham who were on the front foot, this in itself seems bizarre that the Cottagers would have chances and time on the ball at Anfield and indeed Liverpool would finish the game with just 3 shots on target.

Inevitably Liverpool had their best moments in possession in the 2nd half but made no real threat on goal in the final third and had just 1 real chance in this period. It was another limp display from the champions and for Fulham more glory on Merseyside given that they had beaten Everton here a few weeks ago by 2-0.

Will Fulham stay up? The omens are looking good for Parker’s team because of the fight they have shown and they have reduced a seven point gap to just goal difference over Brighton. Fulham could also have a challenge at Newcastle in 16th place given that the Magpies are only 1 point in front of Fulham.

As for Lemina that was his first goal of the season and scoring the winning goal against the champions he would have taken that to be his debut of the campaign.

If you beat the champions surely that will only reinforce the belief that you are going to stay up. Brighton, Newcastle and even perhaps Burnley in 15th place will be on high alert and the last few weeks of the Premier League season will be unmissable.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 21

It’s been full steam ahead for the 2019 champions Manchester City who have emerged as the favourites to win the league title. City have won 26 points from their last 30 and at the weekend beat Sheffield United 1-0. City are 3 points clear at the top and have a game in hand.

Liverpool look back after their slump and have scored 6 goals in their last 2 games which were both away ones against Tottenham and West Ham. Tottenham’s league title hopes look dashed after losing back to back games and even the top 4 is in doubt now. Thomas Tuchel has started life with Chelsea with a draw against Wolves and a win over Burnley and Arsenal have gone seven league games unbeaten in their best period of form this season.

Let’s take a look below at the best 11 players of the Premier League over the past week, and you can check to see if any are in your side.

Goalkeeper: Damian Martinez- Aston Villa 7pts

Damian Martinez has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League this season and he earned another 7 points and his 10th clean sheet of the season as Aston Villa went to Southampton and won 1-0. The Saints had plenty of chances on goal and Martinez, as often this season, was there to protect his goal.

Defender: Cesar Azpilicueta- Chelsea 9pts

Not only did Cesar Azpilicueta keep a clean sheet as Chelsea beat Burnley 2-0 but he also scored one of the Blues’ goals. It was his 1st goal for the club this season and his value is 7m.

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold- Liverpool 6pts

Trent Alexander-Arnold was secure at the back for Liverpool to earn another six points as the champions beat West Ham away from home 3-1 and he now has 25 points overall this season.

Defender: Marcos Alonso- Chelsea 9pts

Marcos Alonso had the perfect game for him as he kept a clean sheet his first of the season since he has only started 4 league games and he also scored the winning goal for Chelsea as they beat Burnley 2-0 at the weekend.

Defender: Ruben Dias- Manchester City 5pts

Ruben Dias has been one of the best defenders in the league so far and he collected another 5 points as Manchester City beat Sheffield United 1-0. It was Dias’ 12th clean sheet of the season so far.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool 8pts

You just can’t keep him down and Mohamed Salah is back! Salah scored 2 goals at the weekend as Liverpool beat West Ham 3-1 and his 2nd one was superb. Salah is now the leading goalscorer in the Premier League with 15 goals so far.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane- Liverpool 6pts

Sadio Mane’s season has been slowly getting better after a sluggish start and he is becoming a staple player for Liverpool again. His influence has been shown in the last 2 games where Liverpool have beaten Tottenham and West Ham by the same score line of 3-1 and he has been able to earn another six points.

Midfielder: Roberto Firmino- Liverpool 6pts

Roberto Firmino had to start from the bench against West Ham but the Brazilian still came off it to score a goal as Liverpool beat West Ham 3-1 at the weekend. Firmino has scored six goals so far this season.

Midfielder: Ross Barkley- Aston Villa 6pts

Ross Barkley was the difference yet again as Aston Villa secured a great 1-0 victory over Southampton and a very important one. Barkley got the only goal and he has 22 points overall now.

Striker: Patrick Bamford- Leeds United 8pts

Patrick Bamford turned it on at the weekend as Leeds stunned Leicester by beating them 3-1. Bamford assisted in Leeds opening goal, then scored the 2nd and then assisted again in the 3rd. He was probably the player of the weekend in the Premier League pound for pound.

Striker: Callum Wilson- Newcastle United 8pts

Newcastle were expected to lose at Everton but striker Callum Wilson refused to read that story and he scored 2 goals as Newcastle beat Everton away from home 2-0. Wilson has had an excellent season so far scoring 10 goals and assisting in another 4.

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FA Cup Game of the Round: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United

The FA Cup took over from the Premier League for the last week as the 3rd round kicked off and that meant that Premier League clubs could partake. There were not many all Premier League clashes to take place but the one that did stand out was Arsenal v Newcastle United.

Even though both teams did make some changes, many players who ply their trade every week in the Premier League still played. Arsenal won the game 2-0 after an epic battle and the result would have given the Gunners a major confidence boost. Including their good league form Arsenal have now won the last 4 competitive games in a row.

Arsenal were the favourites going into the match and being at home only underlined that status and the Gunners who started with a strong team including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front started better than the Magpies.

Indeed the first half was dominated by the Gunners who found seven good chances and 3 shots on target. Steve Bruce’s team were under pressure from the first whistle and managed zero shots on target in the first 45 minutes which summed up their game and tactics.

Newcastle woke up in the second half and created more chances but this continued to be Arsenal’s to lose and they really should have scored within the 90 minutes. With the game locked at 0-0 we went into extra time as the new rules state no replays at least for this season- however it is something we should expect to be the norm from now.

The game plan looked simple enough for Newcastle who had been the inferior team but had held on to a 0-0, they were going for the penalty shoot-out and riding their luck. And everything was going to plan for the visitors until the 19th minute of extra time when Arsenal finally broke the dead lock.

Of all the players to give the Gunners the lead it came down to youngster Emile Smith-Rowe who scored after being set up by Alexandre Lacazette. Lacazette has been in super form for Mikel Arteta’s side of late.

The goal came so late it seemed to demolish any plans Newcastle had of a penalty shoot-out and the final nail in the coffin was provided by Aubameyang 3 mins from the end. The striker who has been desperately lacking form latched on to an assist from Kieran Tierney to grab the winning goal and hopefully for him to reinstall some much needed confidence.

The win seemed more important for Arsenal who need to keep up their winning momentum and good form. As for Newcastle they need to get back to winning ways but they still look too good to get involved in a relegation battle. In this season and the way it has been going not having to play the extra cup games could benefit Newcastle and so they can fully concentrate on trying to finish as high as they can in the Premier League.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 12

Nothing much changed at the top of the Premier League as the best performing teams dropped points. Tottenham and Liverpool could only draw their respective games and Chelsea lost their first match in 3 months as they lost 1-0 at Everton.

There were wins for West Ham, Southampton and Leicester and those three clubs put pressure on the top 3. The much hyped Manchester derby was quite a dire affair that ended 0-0 and the pressure has grown on Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta who saw his club lose their 4th game at home in a row, Arsenal are in 15th position.

Let’s take a look below at the best performing players over the weekend.

Goalkeeper: Nick Pope- Burnley 7pts

Nick Pope gets the vote ahead of other goalkeepers that kept a clean sheet as Burnley were never expected to get a win and a clean sheet at Arsenal. Pope made some good saves and had to be alert as Burnley were under a lot of pressure and Arsenal had six shots on target. Pope now has 14 points overall.

Defender: Jan Bednarek- Southampton 7pts

Jan Bednarek earned 7 points at the weekend as Southampton beat Sheffield United 3-0. Not only did Bednarek keep a clean sheet, which is his 5th of the season but he also assisted in the Saints first goal which set their victory up.

Defender: Jannick Vestergaard-Southampton 5pts

Jannick Vestergaard is having a great season for Southampton and he commanded the defence and back four with a veterans touch. He made some good interceptions and was always seconds ahead as Southampton beat Sheffield United 3-0. The defender’s value is 6m.

Defender: Michael Keane-Everton 5pts

It’s never easy shutting out Chelsea and Michael Keane was part of an Everton defence that showed resilience against the Blues who had not tasted defeat in 3 months. Keane was inch perfect and his timing was spot on. He now has 10 points for the season which is the most of any Everton defender and he can be added to your team for 6.5m.

Defender: Yerry Mina- Everton 5pts

Yerry Mina is looking more solid as a player under Carlo Ancelotti and he had an eventful game getting into the thick of things as Everton saw out a 1-0 victory over Chelsea. Mina has helped to keep 2 clean sheets at the back for Everton so far this season.

Midfielder: James Maddison- Leicester 10pts

James Maddison not only helped out in defence with his run backs but he also scored 2 goals, Leicester’s 1st and 3rd as they beat Brighton 3-0 at home. Maddison has really showed his quality again this season and the midfielder has scored 3 goals and been involved in 4 so far for the Foxes.

Midfielder: Stuart Armstrong- Southampton 6pts

Stuart Armstrong now has 22 points overall and capped another splendid weekend as Southampton beat Sheffield United 3-0. Armstrong scored the 2nd goal which set up the club for all three points and they have started the season very strong as they look to finish in a European position.

Midfielder: Nathan Redmond- Southampton 6pts

Nathan Redmond was commanding in midfield and he scored his first goal of the season as his club overpowered Sheffield United 3-0. Redmond now has 12 points overall and is valued at 7m.

Midfielder: Mateusz Klich- Leeds United 4pts

Leeds lost against West Ham 2-1 on Friday but Mateusz Klich is proving to be one of the Leeds’ best players this season. He scored the penalty for Leeds goal and put in a very good and energetic performance. The midfielder now has 23 points and is valued at 6.5m.

Striker: Jamie Vardy-Leicester 8pts

Jamie Vardy is here once again and the striker assisted in goals and scored one at the weekend as Leicester beat Brighton 3-0 and he earned 8 points in the process. This season is turning out to be a good one for both him and club and Vardy now has 10 goals to his name.

Striker: Dwight Gayle- Newcastle 4pts

There were a few strikers who made it to 4 points but Dwight Gayle saved his club with just 8 minutes to go and won the game for them as Newcastle beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1. Gayle was also returning from injury and what a way to get back on track. Gayle’s value is just 5m.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 10

The three top clubs, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea all drew and there is just 2 points between them. Wolves are back in the mix with  a terrific 2-1 win away to Arsenal and the Gunners have fallen to 14th.

Manchester City who have had a slow start to the campaign by their standards thumped Burnley 5-0 and they are now 10th. Manchester United also recorded a brilliant comeback against Southampton and are now in the top 8.

It was another exciting weekend of football where we witnessed 19 goals from 8 games, but did any of your players make the team of the week, let’s have a look.

Goalkeeper: Illan Meslier- Leeds United 7pts

Illan Mesier kept a clean sheet even though Everton had seven good shots on target as Leeds beat Everton away from home 1-0. It was a tough afternoon for the goalkeeper who had to keep 100% alert. It was Meslier’s 4th clean sheet of the season so far.

Defender: Kyle Walker- Manchester City 7pts

Manchester City romped home to a 5-0 win over Burnley and that means that on top of getting a great win Kyle Walker in defence kept his 3rd clean sheet of the season. Walker also assisted in the clubs 2nd goal to wrap up a brilliant match for him.

Defender: Benjamin Mendy- Manchester City 9pts

Benjamin Mendy was the stand out performer in defence for the 2019 champions, keeping a clean sheet as City thrashed Burnley 5-0 and scoring the clubs third goal effectively killing the game off at that point.

Defender: Robin Koch- Leeds United 5pts

Robin Koch put in a stellar performance at the back to give Leeds a rare away win and a good one as it was against Everton. Koch had to make some brilliant interventions and decisions during a tense victory for Leeds and kept a clean sheet in the process.

Defender: Thiago Silva- Chelsea 5pts

Thiago Silva played one of his most assured games for Chelsea in the back four since his move from PSG in the summer. His quality and experience held his defence line firm as Chelsea drew 0-0 against Tottenham the current league leaders.

Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne- Manchester City 6pts

Kevin De Bruyne has had better seasons but when everything clicks he is still one of the best midfielders in the world. At the weekend it wasn’t about goals for De Bruyne but about assists and he set up 2 of Citys five goals.

Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez- Manchester City 16pts

Riyad Mahrez always seems to do well against Burnley but he did exceptionally well at the weekend as City ran out 5-0 winners and Mahrez grabbed an incredible 16 fantasy points to boot. Mahrez scored a hat trick and now has four goals for this season overall.

Midfielder: James Ward-Prowse- Southampton 5pts

Though his team Southampton let a 2 goal lead slip against Manchester United to lose the game James Ward-Prowse had another eventual weekend. He assisted in the clubs first goal and scored the second, though he did some points as he was also booked during the match.

Midfielder: Daniel Podence- Wolves 4pts

And step up Daniel Podencenewcast who has really come to light for Wolves this season when they have neeed a goal. Podence scored what would turn out to be the winner as Wolves stunned Arsenal at the Emirates to win the game 2-1.

Striker: Edinson Cavani- Manchester United 10pts

Edinson Cavani had scored for Manchester United before of course but perhaps this was the weekend when the player truly arrived. Cavani scored 2 goals and also assisted in United’s opener as they came back from 2-0 down to beat Southampton 3-2.

Striker: Callum Wilson- Newcastle United 6pts

On Friday Callum Wilson was the hero for Newcastle as they pulled off an excellent away win beating Crystal Palace 2-0. Wilson assisted in one goal and scored the other and the striker now has seven goals overall.

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The new handball rule is outrageous and ruining football

The new handball rule has been affecting Premier League games of late as no one seems to know what is going on.

Goals have been disallowed and penalties have been given, too many it seems. There has been 5 already given adjudged for a player to have handled the ball, and we are in the first month of the league. Last season there was 19 the whole season. The rules have without a doubt changed what is happening on the pitch- but for the wrong reasons.

There were plenty of controversial moments just this weekend. The game that sticks out is Tottenham v Newcastle. The home side were pretty much dominant for the whole game, creating plenty of chances, although deep into injury time the score was only 1-0. That was until Andy Carroll headed the ball towards Eric Dier’s arm, Dier was looking away at the time, and whilst Newcastle appealed for a penalty, the referee waved it in. For him it wasn’t a penalty, and he had made what looked like to be the correct decision.

Yet a few minutes later, the game was recalled back because VAR had got involved. Once the referee went to the on screen monitor and checked again, he changed his mind. The question is did he change his mind because he was told rules are rules or did he change his mind because he genuinely thought he had got ti wrong? Newcastle got the penalty and scored- it was their first shot on target the whole game. They had been poor and deserved nothing from the game but because of the new rule which states even if a player handballs by mistake off of another attacker a penalty should be awarded.

There were other incidents too. Everton won the game at Crystal Palace due to the same incident at Tottenham. Yes there was handball but it was very clear that it wasn’t intentional. And then why was nothing said when Kai Havertz handled the ball in Chelsea’s run up goal which gave them a 3-3 draw at West Bromwich Albion?

It makes very little sense, if on one hand the rules stay and there not good for the game, then at least make them consistent. But that has always been the problem, and whilst the rules are mostly to blame so is VAR. Had VAR not got involved in the Tottenham game and respected the referee’s decision Tottenham would have won the game. And there are plenty of sides to the argument. For example if Tottenham were 2-0 up and the penalty was given, would this even be a story?

The IFAB who approve the rules need to take a long hard look at themselves. They and VAR should never be the star of the show, just like before VAR, the referee should be respected but never seen, it’s an art. Since when did we suddenly forget the job the referee does?

If this continues it seems clear that the referee’s job will be obsolete soon. No officials are complaining as of yet but as time goes on who wants to keep being overruled in the biggest decisions?

Last night there was a panic meeting where a back tracking IFAB admitted that referees and VAR could use leeway in how they judge their decisions for penalties from now on. Wrong decision, the new rule should have been abolished there and then, watch this space because the recent meeting will change nothing, in fact it will bring even more controversy.

One final harrowing thought is on cheating. We know that even the best professional players in the heat of the moment can cheat, mostly to wind up a player to get them sent off or dive for a penalty, we don’t like talking about it, but it does happen.

How long will it be until skilled players going for a header, choose to head towards a defender’s hand and not the goal, knowing that they can get a penalty from a useless situation? It is worth thinking about.

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Is controversial Newcastle owner Mike Ashley finally waving goodbye to football?

A consortium backed by Saudi Arabia looks to have secured Newcastle United after owner Mike Ashley has finally agreed to sell the club.

Reports suggested that the deal had been at the advanced stage in the region for the club to be sold at £370m. That figure has dropped to £300m, although maybe 370 was always going to be an inflated figure. The deal looks likely it will go through now and fans of the club will be more than happy if it does giving their disdain for Ashley over the years.

Ashley of course has threatened to sell the club on numerous occasions before, each time deals have fallen through usually at the eleventh hour, and although this new one has not been confirmed it could well be the real deal.

But why do Newcastle fans have such a dislike to Ashley who took over the club in 2007? It probably all started when Kevin Keegan a local hero resigned from the club as as manager when Ashley had just begun ownership. Ashley had brought in Keegan which was a huge plus, but then he reportedly didn’t let him do his job properly in the transfer market and Keegan couldn’t take it anymore before handing in his resignation. Obviously this didn’t go down well with fans.

There was also the curious case of giving a manager an 8 year contract, unheard of in football. That manager was Alan Pardew who hardly had the best track record ever, and once he had the contract, form for the club duly fell apart and Pardew soon moved onto Crystal Palace.

Ashley owns many business’s with his most famous in England being Sports Direct, and made the mistake of renaming Newcastle’s St James’ Park ground, The Sports Direct Arena. It made sense for him, more exposure, but let’s face it the name also sounds very flat and of course fans of the club were very displeased. It was no surprise that the name didn’t stick and the original was returned.

Perhaps Ashley’s biggest mistake was sacking Rafa Benitez a genuinely good manager who many felt could have taken the club forward. But Beintez and Ashley clashed over transfer funds, something that the fans could see coming when he was appointed and Benitez lost out, or rather the fans did and the Spaniard was gone.

Ashley used to be able to sit next to the fans during games and that didn’t last long. Is he completely to blame though? True he’s made mistakes, but he has also injected money into the club. It’s good to look at both sides and there is a mentality in football of anger towards owners, even the best owners are always accused of being in the game just for the money. In that football unlike many other sports still has that bitterness wrapped in it. For example rival supporters unlike say rugby cannot sit together, and therefore even club owners need to be discreet when entering stadiums, just look at West Ham’s ones if you needed any further evidence.

Ashley may be more than happy that he is finally severing links, in that case everyone will be happy. As for Newcastle it is yet unknown how much money the new consortium will be able to bring to the club, but the fans are going to be happy for now and may start wondering if this is the beginning of a new chapter in the clubs history?

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Premier League: Player of the Week: Nicolas Pepe

It has been a slow start for Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe who was being thought of as the next best player to come from Ligue 1 football. Pepe had just completed a brilliant season with Lille, who had finished 2nd in the French league to inevitable champions PSG. To further that Pepe had scored 22 goals in the league and was a major reason that Lille qualified for this seasons Champions League. Despite qualification Pepe chose to join Arsenal in a deal that cost the Premier League club £72m.

This past weekend Pepe showed the best side of his game, something that Arsenal fans had been waiting for since August. Arsenal beat Newcastle 4-0, a rare result for the Gunners this season given that they have drawn 13 games and have only won 7 games so far. But this was more than a result, it seemed like a statement, even if the club had only really started playing in the 2nd half, given that the match was all square at 0-0 in the first.

Pepe was given the man of the match after a dazzling spectacle that all kicked off in the 54th minute when he set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Arsenal’s first goal. Two minutes later Pepe himself was making it 2-0, and it was crucial not just to get the second goal but the fact it came so close after the first, Arsenal were going to triumph here and Newcastle had just been shocked into submission.

Pepe then assisted Alexandre Lacazette when the game was at 3-0 to the home side and Lacazette duly obliged by making it 4-0 in the fifth minute of injury time. It was a great result for Arsenal but a fantastic display by Pepe.

The Ivory Coast international earned 8 points at the weekend, the most of any player in the Premier League, even with reduced fixtures given that there was a winter break on.

So far Pepe has a total of 21 points and is valued at 8m, if he starts his form now that could be a great price as Arsenal try to recover their season from 10th place. The attacking winger has scored 4 goals so far and assisted in a further four and has received 3 yellow cards.

Maybe Pepe’s career with Arsenal has started slow, one remembers though the same applied to both Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry and they ended up being club legends. Also in the fantasy rankings Pepe is the 3rd best Arsenal player of the season so far but is more than double the points behind Aubameyang.

Something says that Pepe is going to get better and better this season,and the Gunners next game will be at home to Everton at the weekend who lie just in front of them in 9th position.

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Has the 4-0 victory over Newcastle green lit Arsenal’s season?

There are always turning points good and bad in football and one senses that Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Newcastle United at the weekend could just be the turning point that Arsenal have been looking for all season.

Arsenal don’t win games 4-0 anymore, in fact they don’t win many games at all. Currently they have 13 draws and this game against the Magpies looked like it would be number 14- and that was if they were lucky.

In truth it was a first half mostly dominated by the away team, who created very good chances and the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton looked very lively. Arsenal looked confused at home and woeful. The first half ended 0-0 and never felt not for one moment that Arsenal would score 4 goals in the second half. But they did.

A lot of that is down to manager Mikel Arteta’s half time talk, and it was interesting how he was able to identify the clubs positives and Newcastle’s weaknesses. Arsenal came out firing on all cylinders and it was the chasing down of the ball and the intensity that they showed right off the bat that won the game for them. Indeed they had started the match this way, and then were huffing and puffing with no ideas after five minutes. But the club in the second half looked a completely different side.

The Gunners are so very lucky to have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a striker- how many times has he got the club out of trouble when the chips have been down? And they have been down for so long. But Aubameyang keeps scoring and keeps hoping and he opened the scoring 9 minutes after the re start. When Nicolas Pepe scored the 2nd goal, three minutes later the game was over, Newcastle’s hearts had left the stadium.

It’s true that goals number 3 and 4 put a shine over a game that felt like a 2-0 victory but at the end of the day goals and wins bring confidence to a team. That was only Arteta’s 2nd win in 8 games, although he has only lost one so far.

The question now being posed is is this the beginning of a strong run for Arsenal now, who could still claim a good position. After Manchester City were banned by UEFA in participating in the Champions League, 5th place would now be up for grabs, pending their appeal. If so Arsenal are only six points from that target. With clubs ranked 4th-9th not being consistent enough, Arsenal really could make a charge and a statement and what a comeback it would for the club who have remained around 10th place for much of the season.

What is interesting is taking a look at the clubs upcoming fixtures. Their next game will be tough but they will be at home to Everton. They then have another home match against West Ham. There are trips to both Brighton and Southampton followed by a home match against Norwich and a trip to Wolves before returning home to face Leicester. All of those games look like Arsenal could get points in. Their biggest problem is projecting their home form over to their away form, where they have really struggled not just this season but for the past 3 at least.

Take out the Leicester game though and Arsenal won’t face a top 6 side until the end of April when they play Tottenham away. In May they will play Liverpool, but again all of their opponents now will not be classed as the biggest teams in the league. Still Arsenal have struggled against them anyway this season.

But surely scoring 4 goals in one game has given the club a lift and taken away that dark cloud that has hung over the Emirates since August. Is this the moment that Arteta makes a name for himself and the talented Arsenal players step up to the plate, or was it just a convenient speed bump on the road to a mediocre season?

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