The ascensions of Eddie Howe and Graham Potter to the pantheon of English football are surely phenomenal.
Howe, Newcastle’s gaffer for a little over a year now, took charge of Bournemouth as early as Dec. 31, 2008 and spent 745 days in there until Burnley came calling and appointed him in the middle of the 2010-11 season.
Of course, that’s the lesser-known part of Howe’s managerial career. The known one started after his two-year spell at Burnley when he returned to Bournemouth and spent 2,848 days in there from October 2012 to August 2020 before going on a sabbatical ahead of his hiring by the Saudi owners of New Newcastle.
Graham Potter’s story is even greater, as much as we hate to accept it. He started as a manager of Ostersund in Sweden (2011 to 2018), moved to Swansea where he stayed for a year in the 2018-19 season, and finally signed with Brighton ahead of the 2019-20 season staying there until this past Sep. 8 when Chelsea came calling.
Of course, Potter decided to trash everything he’d built in Brighton favoring the London club from the Chelsea neighborhood and all of its easy-wins appeal. It can happen to anyone. Can’t blame Potter and his delusions of grandeur. But the results are clearly showing that he might not be ready for such a jump in demands and pressure compared to Howe’s one-year Magpie tenure.
Howe has Newcastle sitting third in the Premier League table and into the next round of the Carabao cup. Potter has Chelsea seventh and already out of the EFL. Just saying.
You’d assume Chelsea is most definitely an always-winning, ever-contending team these days. You wouldn’t be wrong if that’s the case. Chelsea has trophies in bunches and since the takeover by former-owner Roman Abramovich, they have won more titles than they have not.
Roman is now gone, though, and Chelsea is just two points ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League table after 14 rounds of games and 13 matches played for them. That would have been an extraordinary thing to say no further than a year ago, but the truth is that Liverpool is not that Liverpool anymore so sitting ahead of them this season only means doing so in seventh with 21 out of a possible 39 points—compared to Newcastle’s third-place with 27 out of a possible 42 points earned.
The last four games played by Chelsea don’t really speak too high of the club, nor Potter at managing his lads. They’re out of the EFL Cup at the hands of Pep Guardiola (2-0 defeat in their most recent game last Wednesday) and they have dropped two consecutive Premier League games—to Arsenal and, interestingly, Brighton—while drawing the two before that—against Manchester United and Brentford.
Only two Champions League victories over teams from Zagreb and Salzburg (2-1 each, one at home, one away from Stamford Bridge) adorn Potter’s resume since he lastly defeated Aston Villa 2-0 on home soil all the way back on Oct. 16. Aston Villa, that was.
Chelsea have been hemorrhaging points for weeks on end. Two points from 12 in the last four match days are, well, let’s call it paltry at best. Newcastle, in that same timeframe, is 12-for-12 having bagged almost as many goals (11) than points while only conceding two in four games. Not bad! Chelsea: no bueno.
Haters would say that the Magpies did it against the likes of Everton and Southampton, but it’s not that Chelsea faced much stronger competitors going against Man. Utd and Brentford...
Even though Chelsea planned their season with Thomas Tuchel still on the sidelines and crafting a squad to his liking, Potter is counting on a team that was entirely built out of Roman’s and Boehly’s deep pockets. Because, you know, sometimes it is not only about Saudi Arabian or Qatari owners buying their way to success, amirite?
Chelsea’s expenditure this summer? €282m. That’s a solid 8% of all money spent by Premier League clubs this year. The average money spent per club? A strong €112m. Chelsea more than doubled that figure. No joke, these folks.
The departing talent could make the starting XI of most Premier League clubs (Timo Wener, Billy Gilmour, and Romelu Lukaku are top-class lads) but the arrivals are the ones that merit of than a few flowers—on paper, at least.
Marc Cucurella stole my heart at Brighton and later reunited with Potter in London but has underperformed in the capital. Raheem Sterling doesn’t even know where he’s supposed to play these days. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a last-minute call made by TT only to fail to get the approval of a freshly-appointed GP. On and on it goes...
No excuses, though, with the level of the names written in the list of acquisitions presented above.
As many as 171 times have these two teams faced each other with the record favoring the Blues 78-54 with 39 draws baked into the total tally.
Obviously, things have changed in favor of Chelsea during the last couple of decades after the Blues sold their souls to the Russian Powers. Newcastle have only defeated Chelsea 10 times since Roman bought the London club back in 2003 with the Blues winning 25 games between both clubs in that span.
Things got even worse ahead of the 2015-16 campaign, and only twice since then have the Magpies defeated Chelsea (3-0 in 2018, 1-0 in 2020). Those two wins, though, happened at St James’ Park, which bodes well for Newcastle as they play host this weekend with Chelsea playing away from home in the last Premier League game before the World Cup break.
Luis Enrique just announced the 26-man list of Spanish players ahead of the WC and Kepa Arrizabalaga is not one of them. Too bad, considering he’s been the clear-cut best player on Chelsea’s side this campaign.
But he’s the goalie, so we’ll give that a pass when it comes to assessing the Blue Lads. Strictly speaking about outfield players, it must all be about the folks in the middle and the back of the park. Reece James got banged up and will miss time, including the trip to Qatar. Other than that, the veteran Brazilian Thiago Silva has been sublime, as has fellow D-Man Kalidou Koulibaly.
Kante has been out for long and we’ll see if Jorginho can make it to the pitch after missing last Wednesday’s game against Man City. Other than that, it’s fair to assume that Kai Havertz and Raheem Sterling will lead Chelsea’s forward line after not doing so in the Carabao Cup. Makes sense, considering they have scored three goals each leading the team.
The truth is that Chelsea have underperformed a bit but are nearly on balance when it comes to scoring and keeping balls off their net: 17 in favor, 16 against. Not quite bright compared to Newcastle’s 28-to-11 ratio.
Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Friday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle’s state of affairs just hours before tomorrow’s game.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
When and Where’s flowin’
- Date: Saturday, November 11th
- Kick-off: 17:30 BST / 12:30 EST / 10:30 PST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: Sky Ultra HD, Sky Sports Premier League, BBC Radio 5 Live, Sky Sports Main Event, SKY GO Extra (UK), Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, Peacock, SiriusXM FC, NBC, UNIVERSO NOW, UNIVERSO (USA), fuboTV (Canada)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.
How’s it goin’
Coming Home, Crystal Ball: Newcastle 1-1 Chelsea
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Howay the Lads!