Time to act…

Make no mistake, Saturday is not a free hit.

No game can be considered a free hit when you find yourselves 2nd bottom of the league and already 3 points from safety. Looking at our fixtures – particularly those in December – Newcastle United are royally in the clarts and need to start picking up points in order to simply stay in touch with the pack until we hit January and are in a position to bring in reinforcements.

Those reinforcements will undoubtedly be identified by our as yet unknown new manager / head coach – and whilst I appreciate (and trust) the new owners approach that clearly sees them performing due diligence  on potential candidates, I cannot lie and say I wouldn’t have liked to see our new manager / head coach in the dugout tomorrow afternoon.

Each game that passes, in my opinion, is another opportunity missed. An opportunity for the new manager / head coach to understand the squad he has at his disposal and to begin to instil his playing style and footballing philosophy.

Graeme Jones vs Thomas Tuchel it is then – I suppose its apt that we will all be watching through our fingers on Hallowe’en weekend.

One of my favourite Barrack Road memories in the past couple of years was when Isaac Hayden nosed the ball into the Gallowgate net in the 94th minute against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea back in January 2019, and there aren’t many possessions I wouldn’t part with in order to see us shithouse an equally undeserved victory on Saturday afternoon – but this Chelsea, European Champions Chelsea,  are a different beast to the one we faced that afternoon.

That said however, if there is ever a good time to play the European Champions it might be this weekend, with Kante, Lukaku and Werner all currently injury doubts – however, when your opposition are coached by a world-renowned tactician and can still call on the likes of Mount, Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic you know anything you get from the game will have to be earned…and some.

To have ANY chance in this game, we need to see Calum Wilson flanked by a firing ASM and Miggy Almiron – our two enigmatic wide men are our only viable options if we are to cut offa Chelsea supply line that more often than not emanates from Reece James and Ben Chilwell…If we sit back and attempt to utilise two of our most potent attacking options in a defensive shape, we will be picked off.

Unfortunately, I think I know which outcome is more likely.

Dangerman: Thomas Tuchel 

Prediction: A sobering 0-3 defeat

Lee Forster@LeeDForster 

Like Corporal Jones said “Don’t Panic” … yet.

Graeme Jones gets his second attempt to win as Newcastle’s interim manager, but with currently no clear favourite to take the position, it is not out of the question that he will also be in charge for our trip to Brighton.

Last week the team sheet showed that maybe Jones had a bigger impact on team selection than we thought, I know Emil Krafth is an international footballer, but he hasn’t looked up to anything like the required standard here and was bullied by Benteke.

Luckily Chelsea come here having just put seven past Norwich, so maybe they will simply have run out of goals before Saturday. The last time I can remember properly celebrating a Newcastle win in person was against Chelsea in January 2020, Isaac Hayden’s header sending us off happy late on a Saturday night.

A similar rear guard display will be necessary this time, though I don’t think we should be almost entirely reliant on Callum Wilson scoring wonder goals each week. As good as he is (and he is brilliant) Thomas Tuchel will have a plan for him and we need to be prepared to see very, very little of the ball.

However, the most pressing concern is the accumulation of wins. In fact, just getting any win would be fantastic. I am not foolish enough to think that in a week we will have turned into title challengers and suddenly be able to go toe to toe with Chelsea, but just trying to play them would be good.

Hopefully the fitness will have improved because against Spurs it looked like we were only good for twenty minutes running. If there are, as rumoured, conflicts between different areas of the consortium over decisions, then the one thing they should all be agreed upon is Newcastle can only start to feel positive again when we start to win games.

If we fluke one here, it would be a much-needed bonus.

Stephen Ord            @smord84

 Strange Days…

Took over but winless is a good name for an album but not for a football club.

This is a strange position to be in. Full of hope and with all the rubbish shackles took off we are looking forward to dominating world football for years are we not?

Trouble is we are not very good and the chances of going down are increasing every week we fluff our lines again, so what we don’t need right now is the European Champions , but that’s who we have got.

The fixture list which looked so inviting in August just got harder. Until the New Year, one of these corkers will turn up once every two weeks and what we going to do? Crawl over and die or give it a go?

We’ve completely wasted the easier games so now it’s time to take our medicine and battle it out with Chelsea.

I am interested in how we do here, will we be as pragmatic as normal which served Bruce well in 2020 when we saw the ball twice but won in injury time? or will Jones play on the noisy crowd and us being Sans Bruce and bloody well get stuck into them. A mixture of the two will do me. Am I expecting anything score wise? hell no! I can’t see us being able to cope with the movement or wave of attack , even without Lukaku but what I want to see is some hope going forward in terms of battling, keeping our shape and not sit like lumps for 80 minutes on our own 40-yard line.

If we get hammered, we take that with us to Brighton and probably lose there, put up a good fight, do all we can and fight for the shirt and we can go down there with confidence.

This might not define our season, but it might in a way, and with that expert summarisation I tentatively tell you I think we will lose 3-1 with Wilson scoring for us.

Danger man for them is Hudson- Odoi who is no Lukaku but no Joelinton either. Enjoy!

Scott Robson

Tuchel Brings the Buzzcocks Wew Factor

Thomas Tuchel dresses like a Metro radgie, only missing a can of dark fruits and a Stanley knife in his puffa jacket pocket. Sadly, the chances of him screaming GET OFF THE TECHNICAL AREA NOW at Jones at full time are slim, as I simply can’t see the Gateshead Guardiola masterminding a result.

Anyone who was at Palace or watched it on a dodgy stream will tell you we absolutely stole a point last weekend; the football gods will not look so kindly upon us this Saturday. Jones both surprised and disappointed fans with some of his maverick choices for first 11 last week and they certainly didn’t seem to bring a significant improvement in team performance. In fairness, he’d only had a few days with the players, whereas he’s had a full week with the lads in the build up to this fixture. A full week of training every day – unprecedented! It’s probably too early to expect a major leap forward in fitness, but it’s a start – every player looked slow and sluggish under Bruce this season, so it will take time.

A team in transition, still low in confidence, and under an interim manager – hardly an ideal scenario for welcoming a rampant, bullish Chelsea to SJP. While scrolling through Buzzcocks videos for fashion tips, Tuchel has also built a Chelsea side that definitely has the Wew factor – it is exciting, dynamic and ruthless – all the things that we’re not at the moment.

While their effortless thumping of Norwich is freshest in the mind, it is worth remembering that they barely managed to nick a 1-0 win at Brentford and also conceded to Southampton, albeit in a 3-1 victory. To get anything out of the game, NUFC will have to exploit this tiny chink in Chelsea’s armour and play on the front foot, with a high press. Personally, I think the chances of this are slim and that Jones will press the shithouse button with five at the back and try to keep the scoreline respectable. Maybe by the time we play Chelsea at their manor we’ll have a manager with the tactical nous to take the game to them. Although at this rate it’ll still be Jones in the dugout – pull your finger out, Staveley.

Prediction: 1-4

Danger man: Mason Mount is in fine form

Dan Jenkins     @PlumsGinger

It makes no sense, but…

After the long-awaited departure of Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce, spirits may have been lifted for Newcastle United, but the results haven’t followed suit. Saturday’s game at home to current league leaders Chelsea will be the Magpies’ latest challenge to change that after recording a 1-1 draw to Crystal Palace a week ago. This will be some feat after the visitors knocked 7 goals past Norwich last weekend.

A sold-out St James Park will no doubt be fully behind Graeme Jones in what is just his second game as interim manager. Will this be his last game as interim manager? As it stands, it looks highly unlikely, as there has been no clear indication that an announcement is due. Whilst the fans are wanting to know who the new man in charge will be, it is reassuring to know that the owners are not rushing into making a decision and that they are thinking things through thoroughly.

Out of the last six matches with Chelsea, the magpies have lost five with their last victory being a 1-0 win at SJP in January 2020. The two teams couldn’t be any further apart when it comes to form if they tried. The visiting side have won a very respectable seven out of their first nine games and their hosts on the other side, have lost five and drawn 4 out of their first nine.

Callum Wilson will be looking to improve his tally of six goals in six league games but will have to beat the best defence in the league with the Blues have only conceded three goals so far in the campaign.

When it comes to team news, Newcastle will be without defender Paul Dummett & the promising youngster Elliott Anderson who will miss out through injury. However Jonjo Shelvey will be available for selection after serving his suspension for the red card he picked up at home to Tottenham. Chelsea will be without Lukaku, Pulisic and Werner who are all side-lined through injury but will have Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N’golo Kante and Andreas Christensen available after recovering from their minor niggles.

A win for Newcastle could see them climb out of the relegation zone and Chelsea will extend the gap between themselves and fellow title challengers if they come away with the three points.

Match Prediction? I think the majority of the home supporters will be happy with a share of the points, but I would love it if we snatched a sneaky last-minute winner. Final score prediction being 2-1 to the home side.