Newcastle United have started strong in their return to the Premier League but they have seen things slip in recent weeks, winning just one of their last five matches and losing back-to-back games before the international break.
That slump has seen the Magpies drop into the bottom half of the table and it’s clear that Rafael Benitez still has a lot of work to do if he’s to get the Tyneside giants back to steady ground, though there’s plenty of optimism amidst ongoing takeover talks.
This weekend, Newcastle face a difficult trip away at Old Trafford to face Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and the odds are clearly stacked against the Magpies on 888sport, with the Red Devils fighting near the top of the table.
BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson has expressed big concerns about Newcastle’s front-line ahead of the match, where’s he’s predicted a 2-0 victory for the hosts.
‘Newcastle worked really hard when I watched them against Bournemouth and I liked the way manager Rafael Benitez had them playing, but it is obvious they are lacking a top-class centre-forward.’
‘Dwight Gayle did well on the day but will he get them lots of goals in the Premier League? I wouldn’t think so, and I would say the same about Joselu. Again, Joselu actually played OK against the Cherries, but he did not really look like scoring.’
‘With both players, while you could not question their commitment at the top end of the pitch, you can clearly question their quality. I can see Benitez reverting to playing with one up front when he goes to Old Trafford, and again it is hard to see the Magpies scoring.’
A third consecutive Premier League defeat could leave the Magpies just two points above the relegation zone, should results elsewhere go against them.
This is the time of the season when it is important to find some form, as the games start to come thick and fast as we enter the winter period.
Following the trip to Old Trafford, the Magpies have three matches in the space of the week, with a home game against Watford at St James’ Park followed by trips to The Hawthorns and Stamford Bridge to face West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea respectively.
While Rafa Benitez is by no means under pressure, the Spaniard could do with some results to get Newcastle heading in the right direction up the table, but Mourinho’s men will by no means be an easy test.