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Good questions require better answers

Where do Newcastle sit in the Premier League 38-match rolling table?

Chelsea v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

If you have listened to recent football talk shows since the win over Spurs, numerous hosts have asked even more numerous pundits the same question: “Can Newcastle end the season in the top 4?”

Most seem to answer something like “I’m not prepared to predict that yet.” Or maybe they say that “it is possible but they likely just don’t have the squad depth for me to say they can hold on over a full season.” You have probably even heard them answering that “Newcastle should be happy if they end up in the top 8 or the top 10 and even earning a European place would be a huge bonus.”

Maybe the follow-up question should be “What does the ‘rolling’ EPL table look like over the last 38 matches?”

Obviously, the breakout of opponents played and where those matches were played will not be exactly equitable. Nevertheless, how does NUFC compare over the last 38 matches? In a word, favorably.

The Magpies already have a better record than Man. United and are in the top 6. And as most of you will realize, Newcastle only had losses and ties last season until an early December match against Burnley which was followed by three more losses and then two more ties. This means that as the last 38 matches continue to roll forward as new matches are played, very few points are rolling off and new points are being added. Newcastle’s 38-match rolling point total is almost certainly going to continue to jump up.

NUFC is accruing points at a faster rate than Chelsea, too. Newcastle have played one more match during the calendar year 2022 but has 58 points to Chelsea’s 53.

And, of course, these long-term analyses of form are coming out from the residue of the Ashley era, meaning they include: an extended period with Callum Wilson being injured last Spring, a reworked defensive line, Bruno Guimaraes being slowly brought into the starting squad, Joelinton’s metamorphosis, a change in the no. 1 goalkeeper, etc. It is not as if the past 38 games were at all a settled period for the squad.

Stating the obvious, over the even-shorter-but-not-insignificant time period of the last 12 matches, Newcastle are in the top 4. This record includes ties against Man. City and Man. United, the only loss of the season occurring at Anfield in injury time-plus, and the win last Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Newcastle’s form already suggests they should qualify for Europe. To drop down into 8th-10th places would be an incredible drop in form.

Pundits making this argument are scientifically ultra-conservative in their analysis. There would have to be quite a story if the Magpies are anywhere below 7th and are well positioned to challenge into the top four.

This is because that is what they have already accomplished as one considers each more and more relevant time frame of reference.

Here is the full 38-match rolling table through MD13 of the 2022/23 season.