Newcastle saw the New Year begin with another narrow defeat as leaders Arsenal slogged out a 1-0 win at the Emirates. It was another improved display by the Magpies and on another day they could have at least taken a point. The writing was on the wall though after a couple of gilt-edged chances went begging and Arsenal duly capitalised with a late winner.
Newcastle have now lost the last three league games 1-0 and remain languishing in the relegation zone. They are the third worst scorers in the division with just 18 league goals and have only scored five in ten games away from home. Gino Wijnaldum is the top scorer with seven league strikes but the club’s recognised strikers Ayoze Perez, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Papiss Cisse have scored just nine between them. The fact of the matter is that Newcastle are not scoring enough goals to win football matches. Bearing in mind they somehow put six past Norwich in October, Wijnaldum scoring four in that game, Newcastle have scored just 12 in the other 19 Premier League games.
Cisse’s form has been nothing to write home about for the majority of the season but with him now ruled out for up to three months with a groin problem, it is vitally important that Steve McCLaren uses this transfer window to bring in reinforcements.
So who should Newcastle sign to bolster this ever fragile looking attack? More importantly, what players of the calibre needed would want to sign up to a relegation battle?
As usual the rumour mill is in full flow with a number of targets being touted, but time is ticking and with a series of tough upcoming fixtures, Newcastle risk being cut adrift by the end of February if they are not careful.
McClaren says he is determined to address the attacking problem that has prevented his side from capitalising on their improvement in form, but just as important is making sure nobody leaves the club. Ayoze Perez has reportedly attracted interest from Spurs and Manchester United and Moussa Sissoko continues to be linked with a move elsewhere.
Rumours of bids for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette seem wide of the mark with conflicting stories being reported. Why he would want to make the move though is beyond me, even if the player himself has stated before that he wants to play in the Premier League. It seems the French international is not for sale and reports coming out of Lyon suggest that they are confident of the player staying beyond the window.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s apparent willingness to allow striker Loic Remy to go out on loan this month is now disputed by several media outlets, who claim his exit is dependent on arrivals at Stamford Bridge. The 29-year-old Frenchman has scored once in eight Premier League appearances this season, seven of which came as substitute. Remy enjoyed a successful season-long loan stint at St James’ Park from QPR in 2013/14, finding the net 14 times in 26 Premier League appearances.
Another player scouted by Newcastle is 22-year-old Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi, but it was confirmed on Wednesday that the Belgian had signed a new four year deal. Even if there was a chance of a transfer, signing another youngster with ‘potential’ from Ligue 1 may not be the answer and after the failures of big money signings Remy Cabella and Florian Thauvin, I would hope that the club would not go down that path again in this window.
What the team really needs is a striker that is proven in the Premier League and can guarantee a goal return that will keep the club in the division.
For me it is a no brainer. Newcastle should do everything within their power to bring Charlie Austin from QPR. He is proven in the Premier League, albeit only over a short space of time but there is no doubt in my mind that he would put away the chances that Newcastle have been creating and ultimately fire them to safety.
With QPR’s hopes of an immediate return to the Premier League looking very slim now they are weighing up whether to cash in this month rather than lose him for free in the summer. Austin has been linked to a whole host of other clubs and there will be no shortage of takers between now and the summer. I would strike right away and do all I could to persuade him to move to the north-east. Between £12 and 15 million may seal the deal and I would be knocking on Mike Ashley’s door before any other team tries their luck with QPR.
One other story this week is talk surrounding Adam Armstrong’s loan spell at Coventry City potentially coming to an end. Confirming that a recall clause exists in his loan deal, Steve McClaren admitted that he expects the striker to remain with the Sky Blues for the remainder of the season.
The Tynesider has now scored 16 goals for the League One club to date, and there are calls for him to return and provided fresh impetus to Newcastle’s season.
Although he could make an impact as a substitute, I would allow him to remain at Coventry where he is the main man and is playing in every game. Experience for the 18-year-old is key if he is to step up to Premier League football in the future.
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