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Newcastle is a before and after story. Most of the before and after is the new sportswear Saudi Arabian possession. However, with that comes the before and after of their hired manager, Eddie Howe. Their magnificent escape from relegation is like little the Premier League has seen and it did so without spending big in January amid financial fair play concerns. Before Howe’s descent with Bournemouth In 2020 it seemed possible he could have the inside track for the next job, opening in the top six but ending up over a year away from coaching before Newcastle knocked.

It was a risky move for Howe and the Magpies as they seemed set for relegation at the time, but he accepted their offer. Newcastle were stuck in the relegation zone Norwich City and Burnley, both of whom would later fall victim to the drop at the end of the season. Newcastle looked beyond saving when Howe was appointed in November. Joint bottom of the league with just five points, they were winless in their first 11 games and scored just 12 goals, while conceding the second most goals in the league with 24.

Howe’s first match was a 2-0 loss arsenal, but the improvement was immediate as the Gunners had just six shots on target compared to Newcastle’s five in the game. From there, Newcastle would accumulate 44 points under Howe and finish 11th in the Premier League. Howe’s transition to a 4-3-3 and conversion Joelinton to a hard-working midfielder helped solidify the defense and their place in the Premier League. No wonder Newcastle announced on the eve of the new season they would give their manager one bold new extension.

Transfers move the world

With only modest gains, Newcastle ended the season level with the top 4, making them one of the trending picks to crash the European party this year. Saint James’ Park rocked as fans felt the magic and reminisced about their final European appearances in the 2012-13 Europa League. In January, the Magpies made 4.5 additions Bruno Guimaraes, Chris Wood, Dan Brand, Kieran Trippier, and Matt Targett. Trippier missed most of last season with a foot injury he picked up in February but that didn’t stop Newcastle from claiming fourth-most points in the league with 38 in 2022.

Led by their defense, which conceded just 20 goals in 2022, which was good for the fifth-best number in the Premier League, Newcastle laid the groundwork for what could be a strong season ahead. They continued to work out the back line Sven Botmanand Matt Targett’s loan move from AstonVilla permanently while they bring in Nick Pope to play behind them but Newcastle are also learning that buying goalscorers is easier said than done.

Hugo Ekitik seemed set for a move to Tyneside though PSG rushed in at the last moment to secure the talented youngster’s signature. For a Newcastle team looking to make it to the Champions League now, they quickly find they have to pay either higher transfer fees or wages to compete with traditional European powers, and even then teams with a history of top-performing levels are likely to win.

They do not give up making a statement to accompany Guimaraes in their pursuit JamesMadison. If he made a move, he would probably man the right wing in a front three Callum Wilson and Allan Saint Maximin Giving Newcastle an attack that can rival West Ham and Manchester to be the best United in the Premier League. Leicester aren’t backing down as they demand more than the £50m Newcastle have offered.

If the Magpies manage to add a top attacker to the team, their European prospects will increase, but with Howe and a strong defense in tow, they’ve upped their game by making the team difficult to break. Wilson and Saint-Maximin would give the team plenty of rest but a third goalscorer will be needed sooner than later. It’s only difficult if the team doesn’t have any real income, since the expenses only go for free transfers.

Defense means everything

Given Newcastle’s line-up, it’s hard to see them drop below tenth in the league, even if Howe’s success last season was due to a sustained upswing from the new manager. Trippier, Botman, Burn, and Targett’s defense will be one of the better shields outside of the top six, and that’s while they protect England International Nick Pope. The transition from Botman may take a little while Lilleespecially as he will be one of the slower centre-backs in the Premier League but he knows how to position himself to avoid getting into situations where an attacker has the advantage.

Good on the ball and strong in the air, Botman and Burn make a formidable center pair while also offering trippier targets for set plays. With those five at the top of their game, Newcastle will be more than okay if attack is average. But making Europe probably isn’t in their hands, depending on how West Ham and Manchester United perform during the season. West Ham will have to overcome problems of depth to maintain their place in the top eight, but a slip could see Newcastle move up to a Europa Conference League spot, which would be a significant step forward for the team.

With Manchester United signing Erik ten Hag, Howe will want to hope the transition to a new style of play sees United slip to new lows and set up another team for Newcastle to overtake. If it seems Newcastle are on the cusp of a European spot in the second half of the season, Newcastle, who don’t have any major World Cup commitments, could work in their favor to start again for a strong second half. The signing of Brighton’s Dan Ashworth as their new sporting director means they can continue to make wiser decisions in the transfer market. A good signing in January could be the difference between a top-half finish and reaching Europe, so it wouldn’t be surprising for Newcastle to be aggressive.

Howe is at the helm and the team is behind him. Everyone just has to stay healthy. Injuries are the biggest thing that can get in the way of Newcastle as Wilson, Saint-Maximin and Trippier all missed significant time last year. If they go down again the team could slide down the table but Newcastle are knocking on the big six’s door in full force and they will be able to crash the party sooner than later.

Daring predictions

  • Premier League finish: 8th
  • Top Scorer: Callum Wilson
  • Player of the Season: Nick Pope
  • Something unexpected: Kieran Trippier scores more goals than registered assists.

How to see and odds

  • date: Saturday 6 August | time: 10 p.m. ET
  • location: St James’ Park — Newcastle upon Tyne, England
  • TV: No | Live broadcast: peacock
  • Opportunities: Newcastle -155; Draw +280; Nottingham Forest +450 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

Featured Game | Newcastle United v Nottingham Forest

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