Jamaal Lascelles put in a true captain’s performance to earn the Magpies a 1-0 victory over a spirited Swansea side on Sunday and Newcastle fans will hope he can spur his team on to greater heights. At just 23 years of age, Lascelles is the youngest captain in the Premier League but his performance at the Liberty Stadium was extremely mature. He produced a magnificent sliding block to stop Tammy Abraham slotting into an open goal and then thumped a towering header past Lukasz Fabianski to seal a famous 1-0 win.
The victory leaves Newcastle with six points from four games and sitting 10th in the table, which is pretty respectable, all things considered. When you look at the horrific start to the season suffered by the likes of Crystal Palace, West Ham and Bournemouth, things look positively rosy at St James’s Park. The Toon are above the likes of Arsenal, Leicester and Everton, which is especially pleasing as Ronald Koeman spent an absolute fortune this summer.
The most important goal this season should be staying up and consolidating our status as a Premier League club once more. It was always going to be tough due to the lack of investment this summer, but in Rafa Benitez the Magpies have a top manager and have every chance. Newcastle are all the way out at 5/1 to be relegated, meaning the bookmakers rate them as having a better chance of survival than West Ham, Bournemouth, Swansea, Burnley, Huddersfield, Brighton and Crystal Palace. If everything goes the way the bookies are predicting, the Magpies will finish 14th, which would not be too bad.
One really interesting market is Newcastle to finish the season as the top promoted club. Huddersfield got off to a flying start, but they are the smallest club to reach the Premiership since Barnsley in the mid-1990s and are likely to struggle over the course of the long season. Brighton finally got their first goals and their first win of the season as they dispatched a sluggish West Brom at the weekend, but they lack a goal scorer up front and seem to be missing a bit of pace and spark in the final third. All three teams have weaknesses, but Newcastle are the bigger club and finished ahead of both teams in the Championship last season, so the 11/10 on offer for Newcastle to finish as the top promoted team looks really interesting. Now could be the time to check a review of BetOnline, find the competitive odds it offers and back the Magpies to have a strong season.
Of course, the dream this season would be to finish in the top half and it is not beyond the realms of possibility. You can get 5/2 on them pulling it off, but they are outsiders, with most of the action going on Watford and Leicester. Still, if Newcastle play with as much desire and spirit as they displayed at the Liberty Stadium they will have a good chance. Lascelles will be crucial. His performance against Swansea made a mockery of Benitez’s decision to leave him on the bench in the curtain raiser against Spurs, preferring a partnership of Ciaran Clark and new boy Florian Lejeune. The Frenchman was injured and may have to be content with a place on the bench himself as Lascelles has formed a strong partnership with Clark and has made himself indispensable. Much to dwell on for the coalescing Benitez, but now Lascelles is being touted as a future England star. First things first he needs to achieve consistency. The Magpies have a tough run of fixtures ahead: Stoke at home, Brighton away, Liverpool at home and Southampton away. If Lascelles proves his worth during that period and Newcastle take another six points, then fans really can dare to dream.