Newcastle secured their third win in a row in Monday night’s encounter against Burnley, with two early goals giving Rafa Benitez’s side all three points despite the Claret’s best efforts to get back into the game.
Rafa Benitez gets Newcastle firing again
This win sees Newcastle move up to 13th in the table, a mightily impressive feat given they went without a win in their first 10 league games this season.
Much has been said about Newcastle’s squad and its potential lack of quality, as well as Mike Ashley’s reluctance to reach into his pockets. Whilst this may peeve Benitez it seems that he is still able to get a tune out of the players he has. Time will tell whether this is a fleeting purple patch or if Newcastle really are a better team than they are given credit for.
Burnley are in trouble
Burnley have a host of problems which Sean Dyche will have to address if he wants any chance of keeping his side in the Premier League and maybe even retaining his job.
The main issue is that Burnley cannot keep a clean sheet. Joe Hart has made more saves than any of keeper this season and no other team has made more clearances off the line than the Clarets.
For a team which was so revered for its defensive solidity, this is a worrying trend. Burnley were never one to play free-flowing ‘attractive’ football but what they could do is grind out results and clean sheets. They are now struggling to do even this and it seems that if things do not improve quickly they will be in some serious trouble.
Turf Moor: a fallen fortress?
Over the past few seasons, Burnley have been lauded for their impressive home form, yet this season they have only managed one win at Turf Moor. Their ground used to be a fortress which teams feared going to, now however, it does not seem to have that same level of intimidation.
Last season their home form was not as great as it has been, yet they compensated for this with some truly impressive away performances. This included beating Chelsea and drawing with Manchester United all away from Turf Moor.
This seems to have abandoned them as well, and it seems like Burnley would struggle to get themselves a result if it was served up to them on a platter.
What Newcastle realistically expect?
Newcastle really are an intriguing club. Undoubtedly one of the biggest and most historic clubs in English football, who for so long now have been hamstrung by their owner’s lack of funding and apparent lack of interest, they have somehow found themselves in the position where they managed to secure the services of one of the best managers out there in Rafa Benitez, yet their squad just does not seem to align with the calibre of the Spaniard.
This is widely considered to be down to Ashley’s lack of investment as he looks to sell the club. Ironically, the better Benitez continues to do at Newcastle the longer Ashley will stay as he will want to sell when the club is at its most profitable.
Realistically Newcastle’s first priority will be to stay in the division. Despite their woeful start to the season they now find themselves midtable and there are probably at least three teams worse than them.
If that is the case then where does Newcastle’s season go from here? Do they gun for a European spot, go for a cup run, or just try and secure 13th as their own?
Is Salomon Rondon the man to lead the line for Newcastle?
Rondon joined the Toon on a season-long loan from West Brom with Dwight Gayle going the other way, and at the time, not many Newcastle fans were particularly happy with their new acquisition.
He has never scored more than 10 league goals in a season whilst in England and did not appear to be the sort of player Newcastle needed at that moment. Many would argue that the player Newcastle needed was Aleksandar Mitrovic, who joined Fulham on loan halfway through the 2017/18 season much to the chagrin of Newcastle fans.
Rondon has started well enough at his new club. He has two league goals to his name so far and looks like he is hungry for more. Newcastle have historically relied on single strikers to fire them to victory and there’s a chance that Rondon may be that man this season.