EPL GW11 Preview: Revenge of the 5th or The Empire Strikes Back?

David Moyes will permanently have a score to settle with the Old Trafford hierarchy, his 5th placed Hammers hosting the fallen empire of Solskjaer’s 9th placed United.

This weekend’s fixtures offer a delight in varying narratives, with Man City set to repeat their spectacular return to winning in style at home to Fulham with the backdrop of not being permitted to host fans in the ground. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosting 2,000 fans for the biggest game of their season welcoming Arsenal to the first North London Derby in over 50 years with Spurs top of the table. West Ham’s quiet rise to 5th will be put to the test as they host the fireworks of Man United, with David Moyes once again set out to prove his former employers wrong. Our first fixture casualty of the season has occurred with Newcastle and Villa being postponed due to a Covid-19 “outbreak” at St. James’ Park, disappointing fans of Friday Night Anti-climaxes… then there’s the rest of the league that will be fun-packed with VAR, questionable penalties, unsung heroes and the widespread title race. Oh don’t you just love the Premier League!

Match of the Weekend: West Ham vs Man Utd

Of course, the standout game of the weekend feels like it should be Spurs vs Arsenal. It’s the North London derby, Spurs are top of the league, and it’s never felt more important to them – but the truth is Arsenal are below par, below what is an average standard for a Premier League side, therefore taking history aside this game just looks like a one sided home banker and not a heated competitive fixture.

There will be far more bang for your buck at The Olympic Stadium this weekend! That’s not often said, but both West Ham and Man United will enter this game with the belief they will be taking all 3 points. Moyes’ West Ham have slipped up the table under the radar, causing some upsets along the way, but generally just being a David Moyes team. Now with 5 at the back, Rice and Soucek in midfield, they’re stubbornly difficult. This has enabled players such as Bowen to become more effective motoring forwards and earning them points, back to back wins over Sheff Utd and Aston Villa have them in nose bleed territory. Meanwhile United’s embarrassment of riches are also a bit of an embarrassment on the field. Solskjaer still shows no real identity in his line-up, no obvious plan to the growth of the side, but any line-up he puts out is capable of getting him out of trouble – as Cavani perfectly demonstrated last weekend with his super sub performance evoking nostalgic memories of Solskjaer in his prime.

This game might take time to get going, but once the bubbles settle, the speed will continuously increase. I see both sides scoring, but ultimately you can’t back against United given their wealth of extraordinary talent.

Man of the Weekend: Harry Kane

Harry Kane is the comic book Tottenham hero, the Roy of the Rovers legend that happens to be ‘one of their own’, breaching every known defence – he’s scored against each Premier League opposition he’s faced – England’s captain, the best strike rate in England since the original gangster Alan Shearer – and to top it all for Spurs fans, he has an impeccable record against North London rivals Arsenal with 10 goals in 11 games. Each image above is his celebration of a North London derby goal. Not only does he regularly score, but he also scores screamers.

He loves the rivalry, even engaging in competitive banter with Sith Lord Piers Morgan, once comically winning a wager that resulted in the Arsenal fan appearing on TV show with a Spurs shirt on.

This weekend, despite the underwhelming form that Arsenal will bring to the new White Hart Lane, Kane will be ready to renew the war, particularly enjoying it not just from above Arsenal but at the summit of the table.

Tipped Treble:
@Chelsea Home Win with Clean Sheet 2/1
@West Brom 1st Half Under 1.5 Goals 1/3
@Spurs Home Win EVENS

Chelsea are relentlessly continuing their fine form, more wins, more clean sheets… the hype and excitement around them and their fans is completely justified and we’re waiting for them to be ‘seriously tested’. Spurs didn’t really go at them, and their Champions League group has been competitive but lacking a Bayern or alternative super power to know how far they have really come. Leeds will definitely cause them problems if only the extra distance that Bielsa’s Leeds force teams into running to keep up. The liklihood of stealing a result from Stamford Bridge is low, particularly the recent form of Bamford and friends in front of goal.

West Brom vs Palace is the kind of fixture that will saturate the televised football market. Not all games need to be on all the time… if you do sit around watching them all… it will get tiresome eventually… it also makes you need to watch them all in case of missing out on any one game being the next Premier League classic. But… I won’t be sitting down for this one – even with Zaha back for Palace. If it does get exciting, it will be in the second half.

Finally, the writing does appear to be on the wall. I appreciate that form is temporary, class is permanent. I also appreciate that the form book goes out the window for any big derby. Let’s see what unfolds at Spurs this weekend, but EVEN money is too good to turn down for the top team in the country versus an Arsenal side with only one league win and one goal in open play since October 4th.

EPL GW8 Review: Whose League is it Anyway?

City and Liverpool are the pundits’ predicted Top 2, but have shown no certainty of this in the opening 8 games leaving the door open for… well basically everyone.

The Etihad was home to the biggest game of the season so far and it is fair to say it did not live up to its hype. The match was reasonably exciting for the fans, with Liverpool starting really brightly and pressing City’s back four with their own front four (I am yet to see it, but presumably the media have been all over the Liverpool Fab Four / Beatles puns). There was action and chances, but neither team showed the levels needed to be worthy of their hype, and the biggest stars of the league struggled to get going at all. The game had 2 penalties, one missed, in a 1-1 draw. Compared to regular 2020 matches, this was hugely understated. The second half wore out into an avoidance of defeat and the stalemate meant Leicester remained top on a weekend that saw Liverpool, Southampton and Spurs all appear at the summit for at least a few minutes. With Villa’s 3 points from the Emirates, Chelsea purring and score lines seemingly determined by the roll of a dice… the Premier League could be heading anywhere. Except Fulham.

Match of the Weekend: Palace 4 Leeds 1

As discussed previously, the International Break can be a good time for teams out of form to recover, and a bad time for teams in for form who lose momentum. I think this break has come at a perfect time for Roy Hodgson, as I am concerned his aged heart cannot take the excitement of a 4-1 win without a significant recovery period.

This is Palace’s first 4 goal haul since the final day of the 2018/19 season, and that was just last day madness as they entertained with Bournemouth for a 5-3 win. Selhurst Park has been short of this kind of entertainment for too long, with an emphasis on being organised and not giving anything away more prominent than creating chances and scoring goals. That being said, Palace showed they have the talent going forwards that – on their day – will cause havoc in the opposition’s final third – mainly because of the lightning pace in Zaha and Eze.

What Hodgson and Palace did extremely well, was to pick a team with the objective of counter-attacking as quickly as possible, having numbers across the full width of the pitch. It’s Leeds’ biggest frailty at the back. Bielsa plays high octane football, trying to get more bodies than the opposition in every area of the field, but that risk leaves space down both wings, and areas for midfield runners to exploit. Hodgson was brave in selecting Eze as part of a 3 man midfield, which worked perfectly on the break. Leeds were not going to change their approach, and ultimately that cost them. Hodgson showed his 448 years of experience, and may have shown a few other sides how to stop the Leeds United steam train.

But of course! No ‘Match of the Weekend’ could be complete without outrageous VAR controversy. So here it is…

Taking the rules to one side for a moment… there is no football fan in the world who wants to see this goal ruled out for offside. Not one. It’s ludicrous. Bamford is doing his very best to stay onside, time his run, communicate with his team mate… and then my word what a delicate finish. It’s tormenting the football gods that we are disallowing goals that tick so many positive boxes. But…

He’s offside. It’s mind-blowing that we have developed and evolved a sport, a religion if you will, over almost 200 years in the United Kingdom, then we introduce “3 Men and a TV” and the world goes to pot (okay, VAR didn’t cause Covid). I will no doubt get into an in-depth piece on VAR and the what, where, when, how and why but for now I will attempt to simplify this as much as possible.

VAR was brought in with the intention of resolving a percentage of decisions that were unanimously agreed to be incorrect. Unfortunately a lack of foresight meant “we” did not consider the huge number of incidents that actually occur within a game that would become hotspots, nor did “we” consider the difficulties and knock-on effects of having to create “black and white” rules on subjective matters such as handball.

The latter was a problem instantly – it was always going to be – but the use of VAR on handballs for attackers meant a rule change, initially to disallow all goals that hit the arm, now to disallow goals only where it hits “below the t-shirt line”. We changed the handball rule. We haven’t changed the offside rule – not in any way. Bamford would not have been offside last season, nor prior to VAR, but since his armpit / imaginary t-shirt cuff (he’s wearing long sleeves!) is now able to score a goal, he is now offside.

WE NEED HELP! This system has so many flaws, but it also needs cooperation and support, not for everyone to consistently slate it and demand better. You’re entitled to think its shit, I am not disagreeing, but the constant changing or rules to manage the reaction of fans is not the way to solve the problem and evolve the sport. How did the VAR official decide where his t-shirt line was? I feel the simplest solution for now is to take the offside point from where the attacker is grounded i.e. feet. Sure, he might reach out with his head and score a header, but fuck it. Let’s just celebrate a goal for a change! Fans want clarity. VAR is seeking clarity. Even if handball did become every time the ball hits someone’s arm, at least players would know the rules, and it would become consistent (he jokes, knowing referees are incapable of consistency).

Man of the Weekend: Harry Kane

So far this season, the media have RIGHTLY sung Kane’s praises, discussed how his game has evolved, improved, and how his stats are incomparable to any other player in the country. We have known for some time that Harry Kane is lethal within the final third of a football pitch, no one-season wonder, whether you see how he does it or not, his numbers are truly remarkable – only Alan Shearer and Sergio Aguero reached 150 Premier League goals faster, they were both in title winning sides that created chances for fun.

This season, we have also seen Spurs be… Spursy. Or at least that’s what we have believed it to be. The late goal conceded against Newcastle was a fluke incident, but they should have put the game to bed – Spursy. The miracle comeback from West Ham may have been a one in a million, but they should have put the game to bed – Spursy. Losing points from winning positions will hurt Spurs, but what we haven’t seen enough of at White Hart Lane, is winning ugly and winning late. True hallmarks of title challenging sides. Twice Kane has stepped up to earn these late goals, assisting at Burnley and heading the winner this weekend at West Brom with minutes to spare. He is shouldering a lot of responsibility at the club, for his country and with huge pressure to reach the numbers we expect him to, yet he seems to turn up week in week out and delivering. Spurs and England fans have every right to believe they have a World Class centre-forward to deliver trophies.

Result of the Weekend: Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 3

“This topsy turvy Premier League season cannot have been kind on many punters’ pockets – Aston Villa are my biggest nemesis – they’ve accounted for 3 of my 7 failed predictions so I’ve chosen to avoid them like the plague” Feudball, October 2020.

Make that now FOUR of my failed predictions. Since I stopped including Aston Villa in my tips, I completed back to back wins… but I forgot their unpredictability, and outright ability, and they proved both in a big way in putting Arsenal to the sword.

What is the more impressive about Villa’s excellent season, is they look like they deserve it and that there’s more to come. Ollie Watkins, the two goal hero, has expressed this himself that he can reach further levels. Questions will be raised, and challenges will come, but they’re regularly keeping clean sheets in the games they do win, regularly creating chances in games they do not. They are beating good sides in Liverpool, Arsenal and Leicester and should be considered a threat to all teams as we move into the winter stage of the season. The biggest threat for them will be keeping their key players fit. Losing Mings will be devastating. Barkley, Grealish and McGinn have gelled perfectly, and Watkins is by far and away the best forward at the club.

In Form: Chelsea

Last week I nominated Hakim Ziyech as the In Form prospect within the Premier League, this week… it’s the whole Chelsea attack. I mentioned how if they can keep their balance right, they’re a threat to all trophies available to them this season – admittedly with huge amounts of luck in Europe – but they’re not conceding goals, and every one of their players is a threat and looks like scoring right now. Ziyech again was instrumental, but Abraham, Werner and Mount also made big impacts on the game.

Sheffield United are currently not the most difficult of opposition, but they did give Chelsea a fright in going 1-0 up, and it speaks volumes for the young Chelsea side that they were not derailed. It should not be underestimated figures such as Thiago Silva, Aziplicueta, Giroud and Lampard himself have on this dressing room. The four of them have won the world’s biggest trophies and understand success.

Chelsea will return from the International Break with four matches against very hard working sides in Newcastle, Spurs, Leeds and Everton, with Champions League games thrown in too. This will really challenge their squad and ability to keep performing when games are thick and fast, but whilst they’re keeping the ball out of their net, they’re going to keep collecting points and produce a title challenging campaign.

Out of Form: Leeds United

Despite an exciting start to the season that has seen them accrue fans across the country, Leeds are not accruing points to keep themselves out of a relegation battle. It’s fair to say that their start has been challenging with Liverpool (a), City (h) and Leicester (h) but they’re conceding far too many goals in their pursuit of happiness and it’s costing them points against other sides – they’ve conceded 4 goals on 3 occasions this season, and that puts too much pressure on the attack to recover the deficit. Also consider that, Bamford – who has a reputation for not taking his chances – is responsible for 60% of Leeds’ goals – so if he starts failing in front of goal more regularly, they will need to find goals from elsewhere often enough to overturn the 4 goals conceded.

That being said, Leeds are still looking far more healthy than the teams below them, and we’re looking at their poor form with a view that they’re capable of being a Top 10 side. There’s no need for panic at this stage, but conceding that many goals to a side like Palace, and only one win in 5, doesn’t sound like things are going well.

Leeds will return from the International Break by hosting Arsenal on Super Sunday. Expect them to be full of running, passion, and determination as ever when that kicks off, and with Arsenal’s recent run they will also be looking to get on the front foot and exploit those same spaces that Palace did.

EPL GW8 Preview: Understrength and Underdogs

Injuries and form mean City vs Liverpool has lost some of its allure, especially with the battle for the Top 4 at its most competitive ever.

For three years, Man City and Liverpool have been the strongest teams in the Premier League, and arguably Europe. They’ve set unprecedented records, created nerve tingling title run ins, scored buckets and buckets of goals in destroying the rest of the league, and done it all with smiles on their faces. In this recent period both sides have been effectively untouchable and it was only in their head to heads that we got to watch either of them seriously challenged. That allure has dissipated somewhat, whether it’s lockdown, whether it’s injuries, or just the loss of form that sees both teams with heavy losses already. Perhaps it’s more to do with the fact that Everton, Aston Villa, Southampton and others are shaking up the status quo of domestic football. Even if it’s only temporary, we know from Leicester’s title win that these underdogs shouldn’t be ignored. With key games in Everton vs Man Utd, Leicester vs Wolves and Arsenal vs Aston Villa, it no longer seems like there is only one game worth watching. Does that mean it’s not worth watching? Of course not. These two sides are still the runaway favourites to win the title, and this Sunday the majority of us can put our feet up and enjoy.

Match of the Week: Man City vs Liverpool

There’s two particularly exciting factors about this season’s Man City vs Liverpool fixture. Firstly is the more obvious factor that both defences have been inconsistent in both performance and selection. Both defences rely heavily on one individual, van Dijk who is now missing for Liverpool, and Laporte who is now returning from injury for Man City. Along with some calamitous mistakes from Kyle Walker and Joe Gomez – the usual risks taken by both defences, I expect both Managers will believe that the best form of defence is attack. With less faith in keeping clean sheets, a fact true across all Premier League football, the onus will be on outscoring the opposition and that is a wonderful thing for us neutral fans.

Secondly, this match no longer holds the intense level of pressure that previous meetings have suffered from. Players with fear of losing, losing the game, losing the ball, losing the tackle… that fear has stifled some of the Super Sundays we had dreamed of previously. This season with the sides further apart, meeting early in the season, with other teams shining at the top of the table… means players will have more freedom to express themselves and really attempt to impact on the game. There’s not been the drama of Pep vs Klopp, City vs Liverpool, for the Premier League title… no. This one’s for the fans. Keep 430pm on Sunday free, get the beers in the fridge, and enjoy.

Oh – stick a cheeky 50p on 0-0 in case I’m wrong. It will pay for the beers.

Man of the Week: Harry Kane

It feels a little like cheating on this week’s Feudball Preview. Man City vs Liverpool writes itself into the Match of the Week, and predicting Harry Kane for Man of the Week is like calling a Biden victory with just four states to go. You have plenty of information on the internet to tell you Biden / Kane will have a good week without my input, but then… I would be doing myself a disservice not to re-iterate the fact that Harry Kane is not only on fire but he is surrounded by attacking talent determined to prove their worth in a Spurs shirt and starting line-up.

Kane’s determination to become the best in the world is driving him to be involved everywhere, with goals, assists, blocks and clearances on a game by game basis. He’s very rarely out of the game for long, and Spurs are making the most of it with another goal and assist in their midweek win.

The only thing going against backing Kane this week is the extent of hype that has surrounded him and his 200th goal for Tottenham (from just 300 games). Football has a tendency to screw us over when everything points so obviously to him scoring another hat-trick… but then Kane has had to fight this his whole career – with the critics insisting he’s been a one season wonder several times. That tag has gone, and he’s now on a level with Europe’s elite in contributing to goals on a weekly basis. Everyone knows Kane can go all the way to breaking the Spurs, England and Premier League goal scoring records, and it’s games against the likes of West Brom that will catapult him there in record time.

Tipped Treble:

Firstly, let’s celebrate last week’s Feudball Tipped Treble coming in, admittedly it was touch and go, but a return at 2.08 is progress towards a profitable season. In light of this, I’m supporting two bets this weekend, starting with the exciting Friday Night Football!

@Brighton Under 1.5 First Half Goals 4/11
@Southampton Under 1.5 First Half Goals 2/5

I prefer not to back the opening games of a weekend, as a loss can spoil the whole weekend accumulator so I am reserving this bet to just the Friday night action. Risky perhaps, but an opportunity to double your money on what quite frankly looks a no brainer. Brighton and Burnley have had plenty of goals conceded but both have struggled putting the ball in the net. Southampton are on form and scoring goals, but meeting a more robust defensive outfit in Newcastle, who are unbeaten in 5 away games, and missing Danny Ings suggests a blip in their momentum is due. For the rest of the weekend, I’m supporting:

@Chelsea Home Win 2/5
@West Brom Away Win 4/9
@Arsenal Home Win 4/6

Chelsea are on imperious form, scoring plenty of goals and finally balancing their defence with 5 consecutive clean sheets. Everyone in their attacking line-up is contributing meaning they’re a threat with every attack and Sheffield United have so far offered little to nothing to threaten at Stamford Bridge.

Spurs are similarly flying going forwards, having spent much time eulogising over Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, they now travel to West Brom who have conceded 2+ goals in each outing bar fixtures with Brighton and Burnley, where they only managed one goal themselves and that was a late equaliser. West Brom have also conceded more goals in the Premier League than any other team this season. This is Spurs’ last “easy” fixture in the Premier League before a run of games of Man City (h), Chelsea (a) and Arsenal (h). A win is a must to carry this momentum into a serious attack on the Top 4, or even a title challenge.

Arsenal have looked more and more solid under Mikel Arteta, and have every right to be bigger favourites in this match given they have only dropped points against City, Liverpool and Leicester. A surprising win away to a poor Man Utd will have driven belief that this team can fight for the Top 4 and despite an indifferent record at home to Aston Villa that includes 3 defeats in their last 10 home fixtures, overall Arsenal have actually won 11 of their last 14 meetings in all competitions.

EPL GW5 Review: Claw Hammers and Sticky Toffees

The mystery mayhem manipulating Premier League matches continues

Another weekend of Premier League football continues to line the pockets of the bookies as no-one really knows what’s going on or why it’s happening but be honest… we fucking love it.

And the mayhem doesn’t stand still – for – one – moment. 26 goals from 8 weekend games, 5 last gasp equalisers across high scoring dramatic draws, a further last minute winner and late drama at Newcastle, Leicester and the only reliable guarantee left in football – Arsenal losing away to the Big 6.

Completing a concise review of the Premier League is getting harder and harder, almost harder than predicting what to bet on in the first place (I’ve only tipped 2 winning selections from 9 thus far – Villa are responsible for 3 of those). Each of these matches could generate thousands of words, but for now let’s keep it short and snappy.

Stand-out Match: Everton 2 Liverpool 2

What happened at White Hart Lane with West Ham coming back from 3-0 down with 82 minutes played is nothing short of a miracle. “That’s Football” Jose Mourinho remarked. However there is a deep truth to what happened at Spurs – they’re Spursy. It’s what Mourinho was brought in to change, and there’s no doubt that this was a slur on his reputation – hence the deflection of in-depth analysis simply to “that’s football”.

Instead we will focus on Goodison Park, where Premier League managers, players, fans… and some board members focussed their attention on the Merseyside Derby to seek answers on two vital questions: Are Everton the real deal for a challenge to the Top 4? Can Liverpool’s 30 point mountain from last season be conquered? The performance, result and Virgil van Dijk’s season threatening injury provided sufficient evidence to believe in both.

Liverpool’s front three – particularly Salah – looked sharp, and will continue to threaten all Premier League defences all season – which means despite any other wheels coming off – they should definitely expect to be title challenging. One major concern is the dramatic drop in goals and assists from Roberto Firmino, he’s now only scored 1 goal in 30 games. A lot is often said of what Firmino brings to Liverpool, allowing them to press from the front and create so many chances – but a return of 9 goals and 10 assists in 43 games since the start of 2018/19 should raise a few eyebrows.

Further concern undoubtedly lies in the expected prolonged absence of van Dijk. Having been in suspicious form this season anyhow, Liverpool’s title defence will be rocked by the loss of their inspirational Dutch leader at the back. It was noticeable, and I cannot be the only one that felt that, both Everton goals – one corner, another deep cross in open play – would both be shining examples of where van Dijk has brought an aerial dominance to this Liverpool side. Without him they were weaker and allowed both Keane and Calvert-Lewin free headers at goal to share the points. The image above shows how unmarked and unchallenged Calvert-Lewin is for 2-2. Other teams will target Matip and Gomez, the latter of which has been below his own standards at a time when he needs to step up the most.

Everton came from behind – twice – to take a point away from a fixture they have not won in 10 years. Their resilience to fight for something out of the game, and quality to achieve both goals and more chances should be praised and give Toffee fans enhanced hope to continue this form throughout the season, challenging the current erratic form of Man Utd, Chelsea, Leicester, Tottenham and Arsenal. You can believe the Toffees will be sticking around.

But a quick note on the incidents that have made the headlines: Pickford was incredibly lucky to stay on the pitch, for what would undoubtedly have been a red card had it not been for an irrelevant offside. It was reckless, dangerous, and he had to go; Richarlison was being Richarlison. Capable of brilliance, but occasionally hot headed and overly aggressive. It was a bad challenge which he admitted, and it was a straight red; the VAR decision to disallow Liverpool’s winner was both hilarious and ludicrous all-in-one. Rightly, albeit a little petulant, Liverpool have demanded answers from Referee HQ as to what the logic was behind this decision when the lines appear to be marked on complete make-belief, and the world seems to see Mane as being onside. With so much controversy surrounding these moments, we’ll pick them up in a separate article.

Stand-out Performance: Timo Werner

I didn’t have the patience to wait for time on Werner, selling him in Fantasy Football a fortnight ago, but after a goal and assist in midweek for Germany he appears to have settled into Premier League life with a brace and assist in Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with Southampton.

Werner’s talent and attitude have never been in question – he’s a machine in the final third, fully capable of running at you from out wide, bringing other players into the game, and deadly infront of goal. If anything, as the spearhead of such an attacking outfit it’s a wonder how it’s taken this long. He should be expected to maintain a higher standard, especially with such creative ability supporting him – it’s just a hope for Chelsea fans they can stop conceding so many goals costing them the win. Even just keeping their opponents down to 2 goals a game would have provided 4 more points, and push Chelsea into 2nd place. Oh how they must long for John Terry (reminder: JT is somehow assisting Villa’s 100% winning record).

In Form: Harry Kane and Heung-min Son

Whilst I can admit to selling Werner before he hit form, I can also celebrate replacing him with Harry Kane who is quite figuratively on fire – ably supported by Heung-min Son – as they continue to push the record books on goalscoring partnerships.

It’s even more impressive and exciting for Spurs fans that Gareth Bale is joining this front two to become arguably the most exciting front line in world football right now (the break-up of Barcelona and Real Madrid assisting this greatly).

Kane’s stats this season in Premier and Europa League are unprecedented and phenomenal. It’s worth noting they have NOT BEEN ENOUGH to see off home games vs Newcastle and West Ham, but he’s really stepped up to lead this new look Spurs:

Played 8 Goals 10 Assists 8

Son is not far behind on an a similarly impressive:

Played 7 Goals 7 Assists 4

With the arrival of Gareth Bale and Vinicius, it will allow more rest and drive more competition amongst Tottenham’s attack and you should expect Kane and Son to keep delivering on goals and assists. Next up, bottom of the table Burnley away.

Out of Form: Newcastle United

This may appear to be harsh, but hear me out. Yes, Newcastle have “impressed” this season, and had gathered 7 points from their 4 Premier League games – but looking at their season in more detail does raise alarm bells.

Their wins, a comprehensive victory on the opening day against West Ham – seems to point more towards the under-cooked Hammers that turned up, and home to Burnley, who are on 100% record of defeats. When dropping points, they were completely outplayed by Brighton, Spurs and Man Utd. In the League Cup, they have been untested with a big victory against Morecambe then relying on Penalties to defeat Newport County.

Some have been tempted to back Newcastle for safety, and perhaps more this year – but with Wolves and Everton to come they really need to pick themselves up and return some fight to the pitch.