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English Premier League

Newcastle United 2015/16 Premier League Season Preview

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After narrowly securing Premier League survival on the last day of the 2014/15 season, Newcastle United are very fortunate to still be a Premier League team. The disenchanted Geordie fans that fill St James’ Park to the rafters on a weekly basis are amongst some of the most loyal in the top division, which is something that owner Mike Ashley would do well to remember.

Story of Last Season

Last season was certainly one to forget for Newcastle. Fans were unhappy with Alan Pardew and they were effectively the driving force that sent him packing. He left the North East club at the end of December and their demise coincided with his departure. When Alan Pardew left Newcastle, they were 10th and his new club Crystal Palace were 18th. By the end of the season, the South Londoners replaced Newcastle in 10th place with the Geordies finishing in 15th. The fans were so incensed at their demise that they took to self-deprecating humour and eventually boycotts began to become commonplace. The Gutierrez-inspired win on the last day of the 2014/15 season that secured Premier League survival was Newcastle’s first win since the 28th of February when they beat Aston Villa 1-0.

Transfers In

Georginio Wijnaldum: Newcastle United signed Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV Eindhoven and he is a Dutch attacking midfielder. The fee is believed to be in the region of £14.5 million, which would make him their third most expensive signing in history. He has scored 64 Eredivisie goals during his time with Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven. It is possible that Wijnaldum could be a key component within the squad, and provide a much-needed goal threat so they can greatly improve on last season.

Aleksandar Mitrovic: Another attacking addition through the gates at St. James’ Park is Aleksandar Mitrovic, a young Serbian striker who they signed from Anderlecht. The deal is apparently worth £12.5m which is no small fee but could still prove to be a shrewd piece of business if he fulfils his potential.

Chancel Mbemba: The Magpies have acquired Chancel Mbemba; also from Belgian outfit Anderlecht. The Congolese defender made 28 appearances last term and Newcastle will be hoping that he can develop quickly into a well-rounded Premier League defender.

Key Players

Jack Colback: Jack Colback is a midfielder who signed for Newcastle last season. He made 34 appearances for The Magpies and was one of the few shining lights in a dismal team. Colback is the sort of player who leaves everything on the pitch, and he will be looking to establish himself further in the heart of the Newcastle midfield next season and add to his goal tally.

Tim Krul: Tim Krul has been Newcastle’s first choice goalkeeper since the summer of 2011 and he was brilliant for Newcastle last season. Krul kept them in many games where they would not have otherwise stood a chance. He kept 5 clean sheets and had a save percentage of 65.1% last season. There is no reason why Krul will not continue to do what he does best and stop Newcastle conceding easy goals.

Rolando Aarons: Young players are the future of the game and 19-year-old Rolando Aarons could be a key player for Newcastle next season. He is relatively new to the big stage and made his senior Newcastle debut against Manchester City last season, but the early signs are promising. His style is similar to Raheem Sterling, as he is also a tricky and direct winger. If he is given a chance to establish himself, he could be key to Newcastle’s revival next season.

Predicted Line-up

Newcastle - Football tactics and formations

Manager

Steve McClaren is a manager who needs no introduction to English fans. He was manager of the national team for a year and a half and was infamously dubbed the ‘Wally with the Brolly’ when he sheltered from the rain at Wembley in The Three Lion’s miserable 3-2 defeat to Croatia that cost them qualification for Euro 2008 and his job. McClaren has signed a three-year contract at St James’ Park that could be extended to eight years and he says that one of his major objectives is to win a trophy with Newcastle United, in addition to making sure they finish in the top eight of the Premier League. However, McClaren has not got off to the best start with the Newcastle fans who have labelled him ‘deluded’ for suggesting that he can turn the North East outfit into one of Europe’s top 10 clubs.

First Six Fixtures

Newcastle United vs Southampton: Newcastle’s first match of the 2015/16 season is against Southampton, a team that are bound to push The Magpies to their limit. Southampton proved their critics wrong last season and they’ll endeavour to do it again, therefore the visitors will probably snatch all three points from Newcastle.

Swansea City vs Newcastle United: Secondly, Newcastle will be facing Swansea. The Swans showed they can cope without their talisman Wilfred Bony last season, and went on to achieve their highest placed finish in the Premier League. This is another difficult game for Newcastle but they might be lucky and achieve a draw.

Manchester United vs Newcastle United: In their third game of the season, it’s hard to imagine that Newcastle will leave Old Trafford with much more than their bruised egos. LVG and his new signings will be out to prove a point and challenge for the title, so Newcastle may face their wrath.

Newcastle United vs Arsenal: This will be Newcastle’s second consecutive match against a top four team. The outcome probably won’t vary too much either. However, if Arsenal are having a bad day, Newcastle could take advantage and manage a draw.

West Ham United vs Newcastle United: Newcastle beat West Ham in their final game of last season and there is no reason why they can’t do it again. The Hammers will have the home advantage this time but Newcastle should have enough to at least threaten to take all three points.

Newcastle United vs Watford: As Watford are a newly promoted side who will be keen to get off to a good start, Newcastle may have a battle on their hands. However, The Magpies should be able to draw on their Premier League experience and ensure they get the three points at the end of the 90 minutes.

At the end of their first six games, Newcastle will probably be closer to the bottom end of the table than they are to the top, perhaps only accumulating five or six points.

Final Standing Prediction – 12th

Although Newcastle are likely to have a tricky start to the 2015/16 season, they should pull through it. The Boot Room predicts a 12th place finish for Newcastle. This is because before last season, Newcastle United were a team that usually finished mid-table and now with a new manager at the helm who has made some seemingly astute signings in attacking areas, there is definitely the potential to improve. The Geordie side are bound to make up for last season and give the St James’ Park faithful something good to shout about.
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English Premier League

Shani Tarashaj is back in action for Everton, but does he have future at club?

The Swiss international has struggled with injury and illness at Everton.

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Friday evening saw Everton play their final under-23 game of the season. The side battled to a 2-2 draw with Manchester United, with Matty Foulds and Luke Garbutt the unlikely goalscorers. The fixture also saw the appearance from the bench of a forgotten Everton player – Shani Tarashaj.

Back in January 2016, the then Everton boss Roberto Martinez signed Swiss international Shani Tarashaj from Grasshoppers Zurich. The fee involved, according to the Liverpool Echo, was around £3 million for a player that Martinez had high hopes for.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The young attacker had come through the ranks at Grasshoppers and was immediately loaned back to them until the end of the season. He continued his fine form, which saw him earn a first Swiss cap and make the national squad for Euro 2016.

All the signs pointed to a future Everton star, but that has not been the case. Instead, Tarashaj has flopped at Everton and it would be no surprise if he was sold by the club this summer.

So what went wrong?

Firstly, the change of manager. It was Martinez who brought Tarashaj to the club in the same window he had signed Oumar Niasse. Once the Spaniard left, getting into Ronald Koeman ’s plans was always going to be a more difficult task.

Tarashaj then spent 2016-17 on loan at German side Eintracht Frankfurt. He struggled to make an impact in Germany and to compound his misery, injury and illness have struck.

(during the International Friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Switzerland at Aviva Stadium on March 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland.

Benign angina and severe tonsillitis have disrupted the sickly Swiss’ career on Merseyside before he suffered knee ligament damage last summer, which required surgery.

This season, the attacking midfielder has managed just two appearances for Everton’s under-23s and his career as a Toffee has, so far, been one to forget.

There is still hope for the Swiss international. He still has two years left on his contract at Everton and perhaps there is still a chance he can make it at Goodison Park. But two-and-a-half years after first signing for the club, Tarashaj is still waiting to make his Everton debut.

The Manchester United tie may very well prove to be his last as an Everton player.

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Manchester United

Tottenham’s decision to rush back Harry Kane cost them in the FA Cup

The England international has only recently come back from injury.

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Harry Kane
Photo: Getty Images

Harry Kane was a shadow of his former self against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final Saturday afternoon, contributing little as Tottenham Hotspur fell to a 2-1 defeat.

The English international struggled to influence the match and was clearly off the pace. It is glaringly clear that Mauricio Pochettino rushed Kane back from his ankle injury far too soon; a decision that may well have cost Spurs their best recent chance at silverware.

Back in March, the striker crumpled under an awkward challenge from Bournemouth‘s Asmir Begovic and left the match on crutches. Spurs fans held their breath in fear and were crushed when it was later revealed Kane had suffered ligament damage.

It was a blow that was widely expected to keep Kane on the sidelines for the next couple months, but remarkably the striker returned just three weeks later in a 3-1 away win against Chelsea.

However, in the following run of matches leading up to the season-defining encounter against Manchester United, Kane had largely looked unfit and missing his classic verve and intensity that has come to define his game.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

This lethargy was notably on show in the midweek fixture against Brighton. Although the 24-year-old scored a goal, he appeared tired and unwilling to make his characteristic attacking runs behind the defence.

On the biggest stage of them all, Tottenham’s star striker was well off his prolific best. It was a shame that Kane could not rise to the Wembley occasion and send Spurs to the FA Cup final.

However, it is through no fault of the Englishman, as the blame must be placed on the over-eager Tottenham backroom staff. There was no need to rush Kane back for the league matches before the massive semifinal, and the striker should have been saved for the United match.

As a result of Pochettino’s poor decision, Spurs are trophy-less and Kane is damaged – a tragic turn of events for the north London club.

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Championship

Conor Coady shows Liverpool what they’re missing in masterful Wolves campaign

The Wolves captain was tipped for big things at Liverpool but never made the grade.

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Back in 2011, Liverpool had one of their young starlets being tipped to become the ‘next Steven Gerrard.’ It was a tag being occasionally branded around the club about young talent Conor Coady. With good reason as well. The teenager was looking like the most natural successor to Gerrard yet.

The summer previous, he had helped England win the UEFA under-17 Championships, which is where the hype all began. Liverpool had unearthed a gem who immediately found himself tipped to become a future Kop captain.

But it never happened for the young man.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Instead, he headed to Sheffield United on loan – where he excelled. After getting a taste for regular football, the idea of returning to the reserve life with Liverpool clearly did not appeal to the utility man. Therefore, he left Liverpool in 2014, joining Huddersfield Town.

Liverpool fans soon forgot about him. Just another hyped up youngster who could not match the expectations laid at their door?

Well, this season Coady has finally looked like the real deal.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The Melwood talent did not stick with Huddersfield for long. In 2015 he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers and he is now looking like the talent Liverpool thought they had at Molineux.

One issue with Coady has always been his position. Often moved around the park, this season he has played as a settled central defender. The results have been exceptional. Coady has been one of the best players in the Championship this campaign. That was highlighted by his inclusion in the Championship team of the season. The 25-year-old is now looking like a future Premier League star and will be playing in the big time next season after captaining Wolves to the Championship summit.

When Liverpool sold Coady to Huddersfield, they did so for a fee reported to be just £500,000 by the Liverpool Echo. The Reds obviously felt he would not live up to those once lofty expectations.

Based on his form this season, Liverpool could be rueing this mistake in the not so distant future.

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