What is the best way to stay in the Premier League – Aston Villa vs Newcastle United

Newcastle United beat Aston Villa 2-1 to take a huge step towards staying in the Premier League for another season.
What made this game even more interesting was that both teams have conducted themselves very differently in the January transfer window but who will ultimately be successful.

Newcastle have signed a number of players this window particularly from France and in the first half they dominated the game and there was only one winner. There new signings had given the club a lift and all the players were enjoying the game. However, the second half the game completely changed and Aston Villa probably deserved a point with the amount of pressure they put on the Newcastle goal. Fortunately for the North east team Tim Krul was in good form and they held on for the three points. So the game showed two different things to me, number one being that new signings can make a huge difference to a team lacking in confidence and number two being that when the going gets tough and you want your team to be committed possibly having younger players in the team can be a positive thing.

Sissoko was crucial in the victory

Sissoko was crucial in the victory


I didn’t believe Newcastle were going down this season but there was always the possibility and with some very tough games coming up three points was crucial at Villa Park. The main strength of what Newcastle have done in this transfer window is that they have signed players that can gel and with a lot of French speakers in the squad it won’t take them long to settle into the club. However, a weakness of buying so many players in the January transfer window is that they do not have time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League and if they had started off slowly they may never have picked up.

Onto Aston Villa and they haven’t done anything in the transfer window and are relying on what they have. They have a young team with a lot of potential but not enough experience and that could work against them as the season goes on and if it keeps going the way it is, the players may let their heads drop and if that happens it is most certainly game over. But, if Paul Lambert can keep them positive then their youth and inexperience could work in their favour because they should have no fear which they showed in the second half against Newcastle.

Weimann provided a spark for Villa

Weimann provided a spark for Villa

When you are in a relegation battle in the Premier League in my opinion you do need to bring in players that are going to settle quickly and this is why I think Newcastle have a better chance of staying up. Also, to me it seems like Randy Lerner, Paul Lambert and Aston Villa are preparing for life in the Championship already by not putting any money into the club. I don’t want to see Lambert get sacked simply because with that team I don’t think much can be done so the problem is Randy Lerner in my eyes and their current predicament reminds me a lot of Newcastle when they got relegated.

Will Randy Lerner learn from Mike Ashley's mistakes?

Will Randy Lerner learn from Mike Ashley’s mistakes?

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What is going wrong at Newcastle United?

Newcastle United slumped to their fourth straight defeat and look a long way off the team that challenged for a place in the Champions League last season.

So, what has went wrong? For me, personally, after watching them a lot both last season and this year there isn’t much of a difference at all, especially going forward. Last year, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse didn’t click as a pairing and it is only in the spotlight now because the team aren’t picking up the points and anyone who points to this, has obviously not been watching the games from last year closely enough.

What has changed then? Defensively they look awful this year and last year Tim Krul kept a lot of clean sheets and this was a massive part of their success. All it required was one piece of magic from one of their main attacking players, whether that be Ba, Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa or Yohan Cabaye. Last season, if Newcastle kept a clean sheet I was very confident they would nick a goal but this year they can’t keep clean sheets so they need something extra.

Injuries have obviously hampered the team, in particular the two French players, Cabaye and Ben Arfa because without them there is a clear lack of creativity. Just look at the midfield that started against Stoke City, Vurnon Anita, Cheick Tiote, James Perch and Jonas Gutierrez, every one of them gives something to the team, in terms of workrate and commitment but they aren’t going to create many chances for the front two, who can’t seem to link up, so a lot of the long balls which, Mike Williamson loves to play is pointless and is resulting in the opposition getting the ball back and launching an attack.

So, what can manager Alan Pardew really do? He needed to be backed in the summer by Mike Ashley but unfortunately he wasn’t and with the extra games in Europe and the injuries that are adding up, he is fighting a losing battle. He wanted to bring in quite a few players but it just didn’t happen and he actually wanted a goal scoring centre back and one point which turned into nothing and maybe that is part of the reason why the team can’t score from set pieces. Which is another thing that has been awful, both defensively and offensively.

I think the team will sort itself out and anyone that thinks Pardew should be sacked really needs to understand that stability is the way forward. The only worry I can see at the moment is if Newcastle finish midtable, other clubs will be looking to take their better players and with no Europe next season, they will be a lot more likely to leave. He needs to bring in players in January just to convince the rest of the players to stay, but the potential is there and we all seen last season that at times they can be unbeatable and have the players to really hurt the opposition. Finally, I would just like to say fair play to Pardew for not blaming the injury list on the teams form but if he had brought in more players in the summer, where would Newcastle be now?

Who will Nigel Reo-Coker sign for?

Nigel Reo-Coker is looking for a new club this summer after Bolton Wanderers were relegated from the Premier League.

Reo-Coker was captain at both Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United

Bolton were unable to stay up on the last day and now they must worry that a lot of their star players including Reo-Coker will leave the club either on a free or for a small fee. Midfielder Reo-Coker had a good season in my opinion and was one of their better, more consistent players throughout the season and he will be difficult to replace. He scored three times in the league for the club from his 37 games. It was not his goal scoring that was impressive though, it was the way he got about the pitch and made a lot of challenges and caused the opposition to give the ball away, the former Aston Villa man is also a player that keeps it very simple which is vital in any team and also this allowed his midfield partner Mark Davies to get forward more.

It was also not surprising to see him captain the side on a few occasions while Kevin Davies was injured or on the bench as had previously captained West Ham at a very young age and is a good leader and whenever he gets on the pitch you can see how committed he is and how much he wants to succeed.

So who could he sign for and make an impact for them? In my opinion he is too good for the Championship and possibly even a team that is going to battle against relegation. However, I do not think he is quite good enough for one of the very top teams so he will have to go to a club that is in mid table or challenging for the European places. The first team I think should be interested in him is Newcastle United as they are in need of squad depth this year, with them competing in Europe already and the confirmation of Danny Guthrie leaving means they will need a new central midfielder. We all know that Mike Ashley tries to find the cheapest option as possible but I wouldn’t just see this signing as that. As long as Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye don’t leave then I think Reo-Coker would be a very good signing and when the games start to catch up on these two, I’m sure he would not let anyone down and the fans would take to him, as he always puts in 100% effort.

However, I do think rivals Sunderland will be after his signing as at times they have looked a little inconsistent in the middle of the park with Craig Gardner only showing his talent every now and again and Jack Colback only being a young player, he will not be able to perform for a full season. Obviously, Lee Cattermole is first choice but he struggled at times with his discipline and will pick up bookings so in my opinion they do need a few more options in that area.

Finally, West Brom should take a look at him as it looks more and more likely that they are going to lose Youssuf Mulumbu this summer so will need someone in their midfield that is strong in the tackle and can also grab the odd goal. They are quite similar players so I don’t think they would be losing anything in their team if they signed Reo-Coker as a replacement.

The ex England under 21 player is a free transfer so I expect a lot of interest in him so clubs should try and snap him up as quickly as possible. He has been linked with moves abroad but I think he would prefer to stay in England as his style of football fits the Premier League the best. He could be one of the best signings this summer if he performs to the best of his abilities at his new club.

Coloccini and Krul sign new contracts at Newcastle United

Newcastle United fans will be delighted with the news that Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul have both signed new contracts at the club.

It is yet another step in the right direction, with the team battling for a European place this season and an outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League. The team will be delighted at their progress this season after losing several key players of their squad in the summer and pundits expecting them to battle against relegation. Kevin Nolan was captain last season and when he left for West Ham, the team needed a new leader and Coloccini was the man to take up the armband and his performances this season have justified Alan Pardew’s decision. He has been a rock at the back, and has arguably been one of the best centre backs in the division, which is a far cry from his first season at the club when he was ridiculed by opposition supporters not only for his hair but his horrific decision making and his inevitable mistakes at key moments in games.

The season in the Championship has made him improve as a defender as it helped him adapt to the physical side of the English game and now you will hardly ever see him getting bullied by strikers. But you can still tell he is from Argentina because he is not afraid to pass the ball out of the defence and try to set up an attack. He has already stated he wants to lift a trophy with the Magpies and it will not be this season but if he can help his team get into the Europa League then it will have been a fantastic season.

Krul and Coloccini celebrate

Not forgetting Tim Krul as he has been sensational between the sticks for the Toon this season and this has been an even more impressive achievement as in pre season it was unclear whether he will be the number 1 with both Steve Harper and Fraser Forster battling for the position. In all honesty I thought Harper would be first choice because of his experience but Pardew took a gamble and it is paying off. He has performed heroics in many games this season and gained valuable points this season for Newcastle and whenever he has been called upon he has never let anyone down. It is worth remembering that he is still young and can make the odd mistake when dealing with crosses as he is unsure whether to come for them or not but the more he plays the better he will get. Krul must now be considered as one of the best in the league and if he keeps progressing the way he is, then surely he will be one of the best in the world.

At the moment it is looking bright for Newcastle but with Mike Ashley in charge there will always be that fear that something will go wrong and there will be some fans saying he has only given them new contracts so he can demand a higher transfer fee from potential buyers. Newcastle are a huge club and deserve to be in Europe and if they keep the core of the squad together this summer then being a United fan will be very exciting next season. But that is definitely a big if.

Papiss Cisse to sign for Newcastle

Newcastle United have once again shocked fans but this time somewhat surprisingly it is in a positive way. Papiss Demba Cisse is close to joining the club from German side Freiburg. The Senegalese striker is expected to sign before he goes away for the Africa Cup of Nations to join up with current Newcastle striker Demba Ba.

This may come as a surprise to the Toon faithful as they were not expecting to sign a striker this January because their manager Alan Pardew said it was unlikely they were going to sign one after Modibo Maiga failed a medical. There were rumours that they were in the market for other strikers and in particular Andy Carroll who left the club at this stage last season.

Mike Ashley will be hoping this will at least get the fans off his back for a short period of time after he controversially renamed St James’ Park, The Sports Direct Arena which caused a backlash not only from fans but also from pundits who categorically said they will always call the ground St James’ Park. Adding this to the many other things he has done such as sell the club’s best players such as Carroll, Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton and then not spending a great deal of this money on replacements. All you have to look at is the fact that they sold for Carroll for £35 million and replaced him with Demba Ba who was a free transfer. Although, with Ba already hitting 15 goals for the club and Carroll struggling at Liverpool this seems to be a good decision.

But back to Cisse who has been on fire this year scoring nine goals in 15 games and last season scoring 24 goals in 34 games. He is the type of striker you need in your team because he is a great finisher and seems to put away a lot of chances as his goals to game ratio suggests. He likes to play on the last man and never panics when running through on goal in a one on one situation with the goalkeeper. A major plus for Newcastle is that he has played with Ba before with Senegal where he also has a good record scoring seven goals in 12 games. He is a goal scorer and the Newcastle fans will be hoping if and when he does sign that he can adapt to the Premier League quickly and aid them in their quest to finish in the top six this season.

However, there will be a few cynical Newcastle fans who will be thinking that they are only trying to sing Cisse because they have already accepted a bid from someone for their leading marksman Demba Ba. Therefore Mike Ashley has only signed Cisse as a replacement for Ba rather than to pair the two together, but in my opinion this seems unlikely as the two will be together with the Senegal squad and surely Ba will have a major influence on whether he signs. If he is leaving why would he tell another player to join the club?

Everyone’s best friend Joey Barton

Joey Barton in the headlines yet again! And guess what he was straight on Twitter to defend himself! He loves using the social media to defend himself, tell us some philosophical quotes and basically have a go at people that do not deserve to be considered celebrities.

Another red card in his troubled career the former prison inmate allegedly head butted an opponent and was sent down the tunnel for an early bath. This after he had opened the scoring in a crucial match for QPR, so the question is- is he worth having in your team?

He does get a rough ride from referees and will be punished a lot more harshly than most players for minor offences for example last season against Wolves for Newcastle he was fouled on numerous occasions and then committed one foul and was booked straight away so he can be considered fortunate.

However let’s look at the other side of his game starting at Molineux where after getting abused by the crowd he showed the crowd what the score was and started laughing at them and then after the game deliberately called Wolves’ club captain the wrong name and said that he was a Sunday League player at best. This is a lack of respect to the fans mostly because he should be able to deal with a bit of banter from the crowd as he always says on Twitter it’s all just a joke and all he wants is a laugh.

The end of his Newcastle career was definitely not a laugh for Mike Ashley and the Newcastle Director’s as the player was forced out the club for letting his thoughts known on the situation at the club and was immediately made available for free transfer. In this situation I don’t think he realised how much damage he could have done to the club, he could have destabilised every member of the team and ruined the football club for years to come. However, Ashley has had the last laugh with Newcastle performing admirably and QPR struggling and battling relegation.

Some things he does in games is ridiculous and he is a very contradictory character as when he picked Gervinho up against Arsenal when he claimed he dived to try and win a penalty and then seconds later Gervinho’s hand brushed Barton’s cheek and he went down like he had just been hit by Mike Tyson in his prime.

Finally, Joey Barton is a very frustrating man claiming he is one of the working class yet when he gets in any argument at all, he brings up how much money he makes and basically is saying that because he is rich he is more powerful than the rest of us. For someone that in my opinion believes he is the people’s champion, he needs to take a long look at himself in the mirror especially now he has become a father.

Time to grow up Joey and stop being a keyboard warrior (one of his regular quotes on Twitter).