Having Rondon as main striker encapsulates Newcastle’s problems

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Try as he might, Mike Ashley just can’t keep out of the headlines for long, and as such, Newcastle United are, by extension, also front and centre more often than they’d like.

Perhaps garnering the column inches is Ashley’s aim, but the Geordie faithful would prefer it was because of a new record signing, or that things were moving in the right direction both on and off the pitch.

One thing is fairly clear at present and that’s how much of a miracle worker Rafael Benitez is. The Spaniard has kept a tight and steady ship at St. James’ Park, and that’s no easy feat considering what’s going on behind the scenes. Continue reading

Newcastle need to sort themselves out or face relegation battle

benitez2Newcastle may have had their ups and downs in recent years, but generally things seem to have been going well on Tyneside lately. After returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking in 2017 by winning the Championship title, the club solidified their top-flight presence with a good 10th placed finish. Having retained the services of popular manager Rafa Benitez, the club have seemed to be back in the ascendancy – and have continued their rise despite possessing what many called a “Championship team”. There have been cracks slowly emerging over the course of the summer, however, and nowadays the fog on the Tyne seems to be descending once again as the club’s internal struggles bubble over into the public eye.

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Why are Allardyce and Pardew still seen as progressive?

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So, Sam Allardyce is given his cards yet again, this time at Everton. The fourth job in succession where he’s either been sacked or left via ‘mutual consent.’ Sacked in other words.

Alan Pardew was given the old heave-ho a few weeks ago, and incredibly West Bromwich Albion’s fortunes took a sharp upturn after he’d left.

What is difficult to understand is why the pair, and others of their ilk, continue to be seen as somewhat progressive and are almost the first port of call when Premier League coaching jobs are available.

Overlooking Allardyce’s penchant for a quick few hundred thousand which in itself is a thorny issue, to essentially bring in someone whose best years in management were almost two decades ago and expect them to perform miracles is asking for trouble.

He’s nothing but a saviour, and from the route one school at that.

His teams play as he did. Physically imposing, limited in their capabilities, but willing to battle all day long. Just the ingredients required if you’re in the midst of a relegation battle or need promoting from the lower leagues.

But a European push? Don’t make me laugh.

The Dudley-born former central defender likes to use ProZone and the odd sports science methodology to help get his points and tactics across, but he’s still the same old northern hoofer underneath the Emperor’s new clothes.

And yet, clubs are still falling for it. His agent must be on huge bunce because he’s the true miracle worker here.

Everton, like Crystal Palace, Sunderland and West Ham before them, now have to honour the outrageous contract that was negotiated whilst poring over what exactly they’ve paid him for, for the last six months.

Pardew is cut from the same cloth as Allardyce. Arguably, his last successful stint at any club came at West Ham, where he took them to the 2006 FA Cup final.

Only Steven Gerrard’s desire on the day took Liverpool to the promised land because for long periods, the Hammers were the better team in what has since been labelled the best-ever FA Cup final.

The following season, he took the Hammers on their worst run of defeats in 70 years, but somehow this was enough to convince Charlton Athletic to hire him just a fortnight after his dismissal in east London.

Charlton were in dire straits when he took them over, so their subsequent relegation can’t be pinned on him, but eight games without a win saw them in the Championship’s bottom three. Off he went again.

Southampton was his next port of call but player unrest and low staff morale, allegedly because of Pardew’s insistence at following outdated and unworkable methods, saw a swift exit.

Quite how he then went on to land one of the biggest jobs in the country – Newcastle United – is anyone’s guess… though they did also employ Allardyce!

A four-year stay wasn’t overly successful and neither did his stint at Crystal Palace where, finally, a chairman hit the nail on the head. Steve Parish said of Pardew “his style of football hasn’t and doesn’t work.” Hallelujah.

Five months at West Brom was more than enough for the Baggies, Pardew leaving the club at the foot of the table and 10 games without a win. Their relegation, despite Darren Moore’s best efforts, was ultimately down to Pardew.

Both Allardyce and Pardew are relics from the past, trying to make themselves relevant in a game that’s now far ahead of their level of understanding. Simply put, football has moved on. They haven’t.

There’s a reason why the pair keep being sacked from each club that offer them a route back, but perhaps their reputations are now so tarnished that everyone has learnt their lesson.

One can only hope.

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Premier League predictions

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With this being the last weekend of Premier League action, every sides that will be keen to end their season with a win. Here are our predictions for the upcoming games!

Burnley vs AFC Bournemouth – home win

Burnley have been truly phenomenal this season, securing Europa League action against the odds, and will be hoping this game rounds off a fantastic campaign.

With Nick Pope (12 clean sheets) cutting an inspired figure at times this season, this could well be his last chance to make a late bid to become the England keeper come the summer’s World Cup in Russia. Continue reading

Premier League Predictions

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With only a handful of fixtures ahead this weekend, due to the disruption of the FA Cup, we take a look at the games that could shape the bottom of the table come the final day of the season.

West Bromwich Albion vs Liverpool – draw
Prior to their unlikely victory over Man United last week, you’d have bet on this going only one way.

However, with the potential that players like Salah (166 points) or Firmino (103 points) may be rested with a view to targeting a place in the final of the Champions League, don’t be surprised if Moore’s men come again with some unlikely points yet again.

Watford vs Crystal Palace – away win

Wilfried Zaha has secured 40 points so far in 2017/18 and will have been a huge factor in the Eagles renaissance following an abysmal beginning to the campaign that saw them rooted to the bottom of the table prior to Roy Hodgson’s arrival at Selhurst Park.

With Palace up against a Watford side that appear to have very little to play for after the promise of their early form fizzled out, don’t be surprised if the visitors secure a win that puts them safe from the threat of relegation.

Arsenal vs West Ham United – home win

Despite the meek performances they’ve put in on the road, Arsenal have remained a beast at the Emirates.

With Aubameyang’s six goals and 26 points in eight Premier League games proving that he has adapted quickly to life in England, expect him to prove to much for the Hammers’ backline.

Stoke City vs Burnley – draw

Their performance against West Ham showed a team that is willing to give everything in pursuit of Premier League survival.

Whilst Dyche’s men are pushing for an unlikely sixth placed finish as Arsenal flounder away from home, he can expect a Stoke City that is fighting for its life to greet him.

Veteran striker Peter Crouch bagged his fourth goal of the season as he hit 18 points and Paul Lambert will likely be hoping that he can lead the line in this critical fixture.

Manchester City vs Swansea City – home win

Whilst their season may be over, having been crowned Premier League champions last week, there is no indication that the Citizens will be taking their foot off the gas this weekend as they pursue the potential of a record number of points in a season.

The midfield duo of Kevin de Bruyne (86 points) and David Silva (75 points) have been inspired for Pep Guardiola this campaign and will be looking to put their prints on this tie, as they have so often across the course of 2017/18.

Everton vs Newcastle United – draw

Whilst Benitez’s team secured a victory over Arsenal at St James’ Park last weekend, the Toon are yet to show the sort of consistent form that would make them favourites today.

Expect a player of Sigurdsson’s quality, a player who has secured four goals and three assists this season, to be a difference maker today – a factor that possibly puts his side as favourites in this clash.

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Premier League Expected Line-Ups – Week 35

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Burnley vs Chelsea

Burnley (4-4-2)

Nick Pope, Matthew Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, Aaron Lennon, Jack Cork, Ashley Westwood, Johann Berg Gudmindsson, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood

Questionable: Georges-Kevin N’koudou, Jonathan Walters
Out:  Scott Arfield, Steven Defour, Ben Mee, Robbie Brady

Chelsea (3-4-2-1)

Thibault Courtois, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Gary Cahill, Davide Zappacosta, Cesc Fabregas, N’Golo Kante, Marcos Alonso, Willian, Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata

Questionable: None
Out: David Luiz, Danny Drinkwater, Ethan Ampadu

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Man City win Premier League Title While Guardiola Plays Golf

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Man City were finally crowned Premier League champions this past weekend, ending what feels like months of inevitability as Pep Guardiola’s men took the most coveted prize in English football. What was strange, though, was that it ironically wasn’t City’s own heroics that directly secured the title, but the workrate of the Premier League’s basement club somewhere else in the city.

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Premier League Expected Line-Ups – Week 34

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Southampton vs Chelsea

Southampton (3-4-2-1)

Alex McCarthy, Ryan Bertrand, Maya Yoshida, Wesley Hoedt, Cedric Soares, Oriol Romeu, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg, Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse, Dusan Tadic, Manolo Gabbiadini

Questionable: Mario Lemina, Shane Long

Out: Jack Stephens, Sam McQueen, Steven Davis

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Premier League Predictions

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A look ahead at the Premier League fixture list for the weekend’s action!

Everton vs. Liverpool – away win

One of the most hotly anticipated games of the season, these two teams come into the Merseyside derby with different goals in mind – Liverpool looking to nail down Champions League qualification and Everton fighting for a mid-table spot.

Whilst they might be leggy from their Champions League clash with Man City, expect a Liverpool side led by the 29 goals and 160 points of Mo Salah to prove too much for Allardyce’s Toffees – assuming he’s fit!.

AFC Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace – home win Continue reading

Premier League Expected Line-Ups – Week 33

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Everton vs Liverpool

Everton (4-2-3-1)

Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka, Michael Keane, Leighton Baines, Wayne Rooney, Morgan Schneiderlin, Theo Walcott, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yannick Bolasie, Cenk Tosun

Questionable: Idrissa Gana Gueye
Out: Gylfi Sigurdsson, James McCarthy, Eliaquim Mangala, Maarten Stekelenburg

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