Brighton and Hove Albion make the 600 mile round trip to Newcastle in what looks to be an early promotion clash. Newcastle were strongly tipped to bounce back from relegation and win the league this season. Things didn’t start well for Rafa Benitez in the Championship. The Magpies suffered two consecutive losses, the Tyneside team are finding their feet however, winning their last two league games. Here is everything you need to know about Newcastle ahead of their clash with Brighton.
Rafa Benitez. Not a name you would expect to see in England’s second division. The former Liverpool, Napoli, Chelsea and Real Madrid man was appointed by Mike Ashley to save Newcastle from relegation in the 2015/16 season. Benitez was almost successful and perhaps if he was appointed earlier in the season, Newcastle would likely still be playing Premier League football.
IN: Dwight Gayle, Matt Richie, Grant Hanley, Matz Sels, Kieran Clark, DeAndre Yedlin, Mohamed Diame, Isaac Hayden and Jesus Gamez.
Total: approx. £45 million
OUT: Georginio Wijnaldum, Andros Townsend, Daryl Janmaat, Remy Cabella, Papiss Cisse, Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor.
Total: approx. £56 million
Last time out:
Brighton beat the Magpies 1-0 and 2-0 (2012 and 2013) in the English FA Cup. Are Brighton still Newcastle’s bogey team?
Players to look out for:
Matt Richie. The former Bournemouth man joined Newcastle for an astronomical 12 million pound fee. He caused havoc out wide when Bournemouth were in the Championship and is a player to be very wary of.
Ayoze Perez. The Spanish U21 international attracted the attention of Real Madrid and Barcelona, instead, he opted for playing time over salary by choosing Newcastle in 2014. Perez scored 6 goals last season. Could Newcastle’s relegation be the perfect opportunity for him to take the bull by the horns and bring Newcastle back to the Premier League?
Jonjo Shelvey. Arguably Newcastle’s best player, Jonjo Shelvey isn’t a player you would expect to be in the Championship. His passing range and vision can cut any team open.
Fact of the day:
Newcastle last beat Brighton on March 29th 1990 (26 years ago). Since then, they have lost four games and drawn two against the Seagulls.
We are looking forward to…
Seeing the positive reception (most likely) for Chris Hughton by Newcastle fans. Hughton took Newcastle up with 102 points in 2009/10 and even guided them to a mid-table finish in the Premier League. That wasn’t enough for unpopular owner, Mike Ashley, who decided he deserved the sack. Clueless!
Generally, Hughton prefers to play it safe in bigger matches. I wouldn’t be suprised to see a 4-5-1 formation employed to try and control the game. Newcastle are missing out strikers Dwight Gayle and Alexander Mitrovic who would have made the occasion noticeably tougher for Brighton. That being said, I can see a draw being the most likely outcome. Both teams won’t want to give the game away in the early stages which means it could be a dull affair… lets hope not!
NUFC: Lascelles, Ritchie
BHAFC: Knockaert, Murray
Article by @George_Carden