There are no easy games in the Premier League, but there are some that are more easy than others, and surely our home game against West Bromich Albion should come under the latter heading. It would be foolish to look at our recent winning run and assume that this weekend’s game will be a walkover, but the reality is that Newcastle United should be dispatching of teams like WBA at home without a second thought.
If Newcastle United can claim the three points at the weekend then we can put ourselves in an excellent position before being faced with a number of tricky fixtures over December, which firstly include away trips to both Swansea and Manchester United as well as hosting league leaders Arsenal at St James’ Park at the end of the month. There are a few winnable games thrown into the mix there as well, and as long as we win the games we really should be winning, there is no reason why we cannot be going into January firmly placed in the top 7. In fact, I will make a bold prediction that that is exactly where we will be come January 1st.
Would I be surprised by this? Yes and no. While a club of Newcastle United’s stature should always be pushing for top 7 at least I must admit that I had Newcastle United down to have a season of struggle, much like last season but one could reasonably argue that the reasons that we are not faced with such struggles this season are down to a shorter injury list and the form of Loic Remy. If either of these 2 factors were to change then so too would our league form.
It is important to note that even if we were fixed in the top 7 by the start of January, 1 or 2 signings would still be crucial. The reason I say this is because at the moment not only are we getting top performances from some of our star players – namely Remy, and more recently, Krul, but we are also getting solid, even good performances from some of our more fringe players. Players like Mike Williamson and Shola Ameobi have upped their game considerably, and while Yoan Gouffran would not be considered a ‘fringe’ player, nor would he be considered a key player, yet his consistent performances this season have been crucial to our early push towards the top half.
Sadly I do not think Shola or Willo have it in them to maintain this form between now and the end of the season – even if Shola does have a World Cup place to fight for. So when their dip in form/reversion to normality occurs, who do we rely on to step into their shoes? Colocinni no longer seems to have the desire, and Steven Taylor is even more of a liability than Williamson. Up top we seem to have no one other than Cisse as an option and he cannot hit a barn door with a banjo. Needless to say, I think our priorities are a centre forward, who has strength to hold up the ball, bring others into play and be a general nuisance in the box – i.e. an upgrade on Shola. Added to that, we need a strong dominant centre-half who wins everything in the air, strong in the tackle and will complement M’biwa – i.e. an upgrade on Williamson.
If we make these subtle upgrades to our squad, I think we will be in fine fettle to potentially challenge top 7 this season. However, if we fail to make these signings, and some of our players suffer a loss of form, or worse, injuries then we could see ourselves fall away into mid-table. It would be a shame to see ourselves build up a head of steam on the field going into January only for the momentum to be lost by lack of transfer activity off the field coming out of it.
What do you think? Will we carry on this impressive form? Do we need to make signings in January? If so, where? Will we even make signings if we are comfortably top half?