You would think I’m joking but you better take this very seriously: this Saturday marks the second game of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign and you’d be good if you enjoy the hell out of it because before you can even realize all of this thing will be over. Such is life, folks. And now that Newcastle doesn’t know how to lose—or even draw!—games it all goes away very quickly around SJP these days.
Just one week after seeing off freshly promoted Nottingham Forest in a very dominant fashion on home turf, the Magpies are visiting the south coast and Brighton to play footy at Amex Stadium. It’s an easy joke to make and label to assign, but this weekend’s game can clearly be called the “Dan Ashworth Derby” after what went down last season—literally, the drama lasted months—between Newcastle and Brighton when it came to the sporting director joining the former after leaving the later once his “gardening leave” period expired at the end of the campaign and with summer transfer negotiations already going on in the Geordie HQ.
If only because of the team they beat last weekend and everything it has historically represented, along with the worldwide media coverage it gets, Brighton is entering Saturday’s match boasting a larger profile than the one they most probably should. The Seagulls defeated Manchester United to kick their year off by outscoring the Bad United 2-1 last Sunday. Without Marc Cucurella. With Danny Wellbeck. Talk about knowing how to Man U business, uh?
Something has to give here between the two winners in Brighton and Newcastle—let’s hope the dreaded nil-nil or whatever other tie doesn’t happen—as they face each other after a successful debut to the season with Man U and Nott Forest eating those losses respectively.
Brighton couldn’t count on Cucurella (now of Chelsea) nor Yves Bissouma (sold to Tottenham) but that didn’t stop them from beating a United team that, truth be told, might not be seen as a super-tough opponent at the end of this year, let alone considering what they did in the 2021/22 season...
Only Wolves separated Brighton and Newcastle in the table last year with the former scoring just a couple more points than the latter and finishing 9th and 11th on the final sheet respectively. That speaks volumes of the improvement of Newcastle and the demise of Brighton, even though the Seagulls went on to win three of their four last games and have another victory to kick this campaign off. Considering the Magpies' horrific pre-Boxing Day performances, finishing just two points shy of Brighton definitely painted a fake picture as the Magpies would have most probably trumped them in the table had they played to the levels of the 2022 calendar year during the last months of 2021.
Another interesting thing to keep in mind come kick-off time is that this game will take place in the Amex Stadium, which might actually favor Newcastle more than it does Brighton. Just in case you’re not aware, the Seagulls played their way to the fifth-worst finish when counting only home results (22 points of a possible maximum of 57; five wins, seven losses, seven draws) while Newcastle was good to snatch 19 points from away games (five wins, four draws, ten losses). Brighton closed the season winning their last two home games, though, against Manchester United (meh) and West Ham (double-meh), although they had not won a game on their home turf since Dec. 26 prior to that!
When it comes to incoming and departing players, Brighton has kept things relatively quiet. In the former department, at least. Obviously, no team would have said no to €65+ million transfer offer for Cucurella, with Leo Ostigard leaving €5 million in the coffers to go with Bissouma’s €29+ million paid by Tottenham. That’s more than €100 million in the bag, which I wouldn’t be too mad about having bagged myself. The problem for Brighton, though, is that the investment hasn’t been quite on par with the sales.
Only midfielder Julio Enciso and winger Adingra Simon were paid for, while Levi Cowell is arriving from Chelsea on a season-long loan deal to cover for Cucurella’s departure, though this one doesn’t project as a truly impactful move about to positively move the needle for Brighton this year.
To all of that, you can add that Brighton sold Dan Burn to Newcastle in last January’s transfer window and you have another reason to consider this a derby or at least a bitchy match in which some stakes are high and tensions higher if only because of all of the dealings between both clubs in a small bunch of months.
A belter from Mo Diamé— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) August 11, 2022
⏱️ A late winner from Ayoze Pérez
Looking back on our 2-1 win at the Amex Stadium in 2017
18+ | https://t.co/4gLm9YOhGf
Heartwarming memories from the past, and exciting times ahead to build new ones starting this weekend at Amex. Howe has been quoted prior to tomorrow’s game saying that he, along with the rest of the Magpies staff, has organized sessions to let the players know about the club’s past, their glories, legends, and icons. Here’s hoping this whole current bunch of players can turn into a trophy-winning mob, and for that to happen it wouldn’t be that bad to keep the Ws coming with another victory away from home on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
We taking our talents to South Beach this weekend, folks.
The FotMob.com best guess at the Starting XIs from the Geordie Lads and the Seagulls is in, so let’s go through it.
- Not Available: Emil Kraft (thigh), Javier Manquillo (groin), Federico Fernandez (calf), Jamal Lewis (calf), Jonjo Shelvey (thigh)
- Using Dubravka this weekend after kicking the year off with Nick Pope would be a rather big surprise, all things considered. If you add the fact that Nottingham Forest was definitely one of the softest (if not the softest) rivals Newcastle will face this season, a change could be wrongly interpreted by Pope and bring more trouble than leaving everything as is. Not many doubts here.
- After deploying the Burn-Schar pairing, it’d make sense to repeat it here against stronger opposition. On top of that, this is the return of Dan Burn to his former club and although that’s pretty much meaningless at this level of play, it’d be reasonable for him to go 110% against Brighton. Fabian Schar opened the score last weekend and he’s bagged 50% of this season’s team goals, so he’s a must, right? No questions on the flanks (Trippier and Targett), even more with Emil Kraft having some issues (nothing serious, Howe made clear; he just needs a good old resting of the legs to fix it) and no real backup at left-back.
- Joe Willock was the man tasked with covering for Joelinton and Bruno as the third midfield weapon against Forest. He was good enough if you ask me. I love Willock, and I think he has yet a lot of potential inside of him to unlock. With Jonjo Shelvey out until Boxing Day, though, I’m betting on more than a few rotations in the midfield—barring the addition of a legitimate performer, of course—throughtout the first few months of the season. So I’m finally envisioning Sean Longstaff paired with Bruno and Joelinton in the mid-three part of the pitch come Saturday.
- Same three as last weekend upfront. Saint-Maximin was really good, committed no errors, and showed no flaws. Almirón wasn’t at his true best and might see some bench time although the alternatives are not very appealing (I personally wouldn’t hate some Jacob Murphy, though). Wilson is going nowhere unless a meteorite strikes him and turns his body into debris—and I would still play him, not gonna lie.
When and Where’s flowin’
- Date: Saturday, August 13
- Kick-off: 15:00 BST / 10:00 EST / 07:00 PST
- Location: Amex Stadium, Falmer (England)
- TV: BBC Final Score, BT Sport Score (UK), Peacock (USA), fuboTV (Canada)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.
How’s it goin’
Coming Home, Crystal Ball: Brighton 0-1 Newcastle
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Howay the Lads!