Newcastle United lost 2-1 away to Stoke City last night to slide down to 14th in the table. They go through November without a league win so why are they struggling so badly?
Newcastle started the season with a bang and looked as though they were going to be serious contenders for another European place. However, they sit 14th in the table with three wins, five draws and six defeats so just what is going wrong at the North East club?
Well the main reason for the slide has to be injuries and it’s affecting the team in a big way. Newcastle are missing a lot of key players including star man Yohan Cabaye who will not play again until February at the earliest. The current Newcastle injury list reads; Hatem Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Dan Gosling, Gabriel Obertan, Ryan Taylor, Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi.
Having this many key players out means a great deal of inexperience has to be injected into the team to compensate. What this creates is poor discipline which has seen Newcastle leaking goals left, right and centre over recent weeks. This discipline will be rectified up as these key players gradually come back into the team.
The problem is affecting the balance of the team. The defence looks a little sporadic with basic problems starting to appear such as gaps between the centre backs, the full backs too high up the pitch and the defensive line dropping too deep which gives the goalkeeper no chance to react when the ball is played through or over the top.
The midfield also looks to be too disconnected from other areas of the team. This allows sides to counter attack and get at Newcastle where big spaces have been left between the defence and the midfield. The side needs someone like Cabaye in the middle of the pitch to make sure this isn’t happening and to make sure that the midfield floods back after each attack to cover for the defence.
Newcastle are also in trouble because they haven’t been able to play ugly away from home. They have now played seven matches on the road without a single win. If they go through the Christmas period without a win on the road then it makes their chances of securing a European slot look very dim.
Newcastle need to be very careful, very precise and very determined over the next few weeks because the club are only two points off of 18th place as the table currently stands. They will not want a repeat of dropping down to the Championship.
What do you think lies ahead for Newcastle this season?
image: © mickyb59