In most cases, and most of all if you’re reading this, today is not just one more day for you. October 7th will always be the day for you. October 7th will always be a date to remember. October 7th will always be the day everything changed.
I’m talking, of course, of the events that took place in Newcastle upon Tyne exactly a year ago, this very date 12 pages back on our calendars: Newcastle United made the Saudi-backed takeover official and put an end to the dreaded Mike Ashley era.
In the words of Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the new Non-Executive Director of Newcastle United:
“We are extremely proud to become the new owners of Newcastle United, one of the most famous clubs in English football. We thank the Newcastle fans for their tremendously loyal support over the years and we are excited to work together with them.”
What a time to be alive, folks. That one, and this one, as we haven’t forgotten about the past but we have to keep the focus on the present. And the present, this weekend, happens to bring football back to St James’ Park to welcome the Magpies home after their trouncing of Fulham by a sound 4-1 in their visit to Craven Cottage last Saturday.
As if there were not enough reasons for the Geordie faithful to celebrate today, football is coming home tomorrow and by the end of Sunday, the lads might be sitting as high as 4th in the Premier League table.
Ah, everything feels so good these days...
It feels like Newcastle were in for a rough one when the Magpies couldn’t even defeat a managerless Bournemouth before facing Fulham last weekend. Also, it feels like that game happened ages ago, if not more.
Last weekend, as it should be, Newcastle went back to the place where it should be if those on the pitch want to fulfill the promises the board make a year ago: qualify for European football by the end of this season.
Going against a newly-promoted Fulham the team delivered a wondrous performance that finished 4-1 but that could have ended in an even heavier punishment for the hosts had Newcastle pushed a bit more.
There must be something in Bournemouth’s air, though, because Brentford are coming off their particular game against AFC at the Vitality Stadium and they were also held to a nil-nil draw by the Cherries.
That said, the Bees dropped their latest meeting with a London-based club as they were demolished by Arsenal back on Sept. 18 before the break. If Newcastle were good to put four goals past Fulham, and if Fulham defeated Brentford earlier in the season, and if Arsenal dumped three goals on the Bees less than a month ago... I think all of the hints are pointing in a very favorable direction!
See. If this was the 2012/13 season, or even the 2002/03 campaign we were watching, then Brentford would be very happy having started it with a draw against Leicester and a ridiculous 4-0 victory over Manchester United. Only it’s now 2022/23 and that means two things: first, that Manchester United are far from Sir Alex’s, and second that Leicester are a near-lock to get relegated... and we haven’t even reached MD10.
The four-nil win against United was cool, grabbed more headlines than it should, and ultimately turned out to be close to the peak of this Brentford team. The West Londoners have only won another game after that while losing two and drawing another three.
It’d be harsh to say Brentford are a mediocre team, though that’s what their current 10th position in the table conveys. It’d also be harsh to say Brentford are a one-man army, but if you remove Ivan Toney from their weekly lineups you’d be left with a team in possession of a negative-2 goal difference with 10 goals for and 12 against. Just saying.
Losing Christian Eriksen for nothing to the Red Devils probably hurt a bit, but Brentford got him for free in the first place and it’s not that poor Christian could help his new team that much in the 4-0 demolition suffered by United to the hands of the Bees.
Adding €55m of wood to an already nice fire (Brentford finished 13th with 46 points in the Premier League last season) makes this campaign a no-excuses one for the Bees to break into the top-10 teams of the top-flight division. They’re barely there these days and trending downward with no wins in the last two games.
A lot of digital ink was poured criticizing the large amount of money Newcastle spent on the likes of Bruno and Alexander Isak, but what about Brentford ponying up more than €21m for 21-year-old Keane Lewis-Potter? KLP, just in case, has logged 212 minutes this season assisting one goal. Not bad! But check his track record—three seasons in Hull City stuck in the second tier of the English pyramid—and maybe paying three times that fee for Isak doesn’t look like overspending while investing more than €20 million in KLP starts to look a little dubious in comparison.
Of course, Brentford is a small club forced to invest in unproven talents to try and find some buried gem that eventually leaves London for greener pastures not before filling their coffers. Can’t blame them. And Ivan Toney is (maybe) going to the World Cup! After playing for Newcastle! Some things are just inevitable.
Multiple Newcastle players have been bitten by the injury bug through the early stages of the season, but lads from Brentford have also suffered some issues. Captain Pontus Jansson, just to start with a solid member of the team, has been ruled out of this weekend’s game against the Magpies after sustaining a hammy injury last Saturday in the match against Bournemouth.
Christian Norgaard is also out with a damaged Achilles while both Lewis-Potter and Ethan Pinnock will take us until the last minute to know if they’re available and selected by coach Thomas Frank or not.
Bees and Magpies have faced each other only a few times in the last few years as they have barely coincided in the same competition, and that is including an EFL Cup matchup taking place in Dec. 2020.
You’d have to go all the way back to 2001 to find any game between these two taking place before that 3-1 victory by Newcastle in Oct. 2016. Before that, a couple of clashes in the 1992/93 League Division 1 (both NUFC victories). And before that... it’s back to the 1950s! Jesus. And I thought I was old...
There has always been at least one goal in games played between Newcastle and Bretford and only one draw (albeit that’s the second most-recent result) between them in their 14 total games played.
That draw, by the way, was the first game in which Eddie Howe sat on Newcastle’s bench after the takeover and ended in a massively crazy 3-3 that saw Jamaal Lascelles, Joelinton, and Allan Saint-Maximin score for the Men in Black & White. Ivan Toney, Rico Henry, and an own-goal by Lascelles helped Brentford earn one point on that day, also at SJP.
Not a lot to say about Brentford’s best performers. Or actually, about Brentford’s lone performer. Not taking anything from the rest of the lads, but Toney has been absolutely sublime this year. So much so, that he’s Gareth Southgate’s next-in-line forward to join the Three Lions Qatar contingent—unless Callum Wilson is fit and available for the English national-side manager, we want to believe.
Toney has outperformed his 3.5 xG by 1.5 goals scoring five in eight games already. He’s also added a couple of assists to that goal-scoring tally, although he (or rather his teammates) has actually underperformed his expected figure of 1.9 xA through the first eight games of play.
Other than Toney, Bryan Meboumo has been an early revelation and Yoane Wissa has also contributed his tokens on offense. That said, the most determinant players of the squad outside of the England international and former Magpie have most definitely been midfielders Mathias Jensen and Vitaly Janelt along with free-agent acquisition Ben Mee on defense.
Eddie Howe spoke to the media earlier today providing some fresh updates on the status and availability of banged-up players in Newcastle’s squad.
“[ASM] is doing OK,” said the coach about his French winger. “He’s trained well this week and we’re pleased with him. He’s making good progress. There’s a chance he could be in the squad tomorrow.” No decision made yet, but enough clues to consider that Saint-Maximin is ready to make his comeback tomorrow.
On a similar note, Coach Howe said that “Joelinton has trained this week and he’s fine for tomorrow,” adding him to the expected starters to be used from the get-go on Saturday against Brentford at SJP.
“[Isak] is running on grass and increasing his speed so he’s in a good place.” Good news there, but Howe made clear that “the medical team is just being cautious with him at this moment” so he won’t be part of the matchday team on Saturday.
Howe also spoke about Shelvey saying that “he’s ahead of schedule and hopefully going to be involved with us today in training for the first time.”
Most importantly for what it entailed and meant for Newcastle United, the city, the club, the organization, and everything else related to the club, Howe was asked and dropped some words about the takeover that finally took place a year exactly a year ago.
“The club’s come a long way.”
“That positivity is still there.”
“Everyone behind the scenes has done a very good job in putting the building blocks in place,”
“For what the club needs for long-term success.”
I wanna cry from happiness. Help me with another win tomorrow, dear Magpies.
When and Where’s flowin’
- Date: Saturday, October 8th
- Kick-off: 15:00 BST / 10:00 EST / 8:00 PST
- Location: St James’ Park, London (England)
- TV: Talksport 2 Radio UK (UK), Peacock, UNIVERSO, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, USA Network, UNIVERSO NOW (USA), fuboTV (Canada)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.
How’s it goin’
Coming Home, Crystal Ball: Newcastle 2-1 Brentford
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Howay the Lads!