Premier League Season Preview | Newcastle Betting Breakdown
Visionhaus/Getty. Pictured: Harvey Barnes.
Welcome to Action Network's Premier League team previews, where our soccer experts will break down each and every Premier League team ahead of the season, which starts on August 11. Let's look at a team that broke through last year, Newcastle.
Premier League Season Preview – Newcastle United
Newcastle arrived in the top four last season ahead of schedule after a Saudi takeover led to an influx of cash. The names in the squad aren’t that of an obvious top four team, but it’s a credit to Eddie Howe’s management and the smart investing that they finished the season as my fourth-best rated team in 2022-23. The question now is whether Newcastle have another level to get to, if they can consolidate that season while contending with mid-week European play or if regression is coming after such a leap year.
Given their summer transfer business, it’s hard to see Newcastle improving upon their +0.8 xG difference per 90 minutes. Newcastle’s two biggest summer signings were Sandro Tonali in midfield and Harvey Barnes as a wide attacker. Barnes is an upgrade in production over Allan Saint-Maximin because he offers more shots and goals than the recently departed winger. Tonali was an overpay in my view, but he’s a solid PL squad player who can do a little bit of everything next to Bruno Guimaraes in the Newcastle midfield.
The questions for Newcastle's production come in play style and health. Newcastle kept their entire back line healthy for most of last season and the result was the league’s second-best defense in terms of xGA. That also meant that Kieran Trippier — the team’s leading ball progressor and crosser — played 37.1 90s.
Teams also gave Newcastle more transition opportunities and space in behind than most traditional big six teams would get. If teams play a more direct and passive approach against Howe’s side this year, Newcastle could struggle to break down lower blocks. The Magpies won by being physical — no team had a higher aerial dual win rate or forced more high turnovers last season.
There are also reasons to believe they can maintain that positive form. Callum Wilson had a stellar season despite once again only playing 21 90s due to his constant injury issues. Alexander Isak is the best all-around attacking player at the club and he only played 17 90s last year with 11 goal involvements.
If Newcastle get more Isak minutes and can even combine his minutes with Wilson and Barnes, Newcastle can absolutely produce top four once again.
There are solid arguments for and against the Magpies keeping up their impressive production at both ends of the pitch. Ultimately, the likely reality is some regression down from +0.85, but there’s still more than enough room to fall and still play at a top four level.
Legitimate defensive questions remain about a lot of the top teams in this league, especially the two teams power rated just above them by the market. Both Liverpool and Manchester United had defensive issues last year and neither have done much to improve that at this point in the summer transfer window.
If Newcastle’s defense remains one of the two or three best, a full season of Isak production should be enough to propel Newcastle back into the top four.
Pick: Newcastle to finish Top 4 (+160 via bet365)