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OPPOSITION IN FOCUS: NEWCASTLE UNITED

26 June 2018

Paul Hazlewood
Tomer Hemed celebrates scoring against Newcastle United.

Our rundown of Brighton & Hove Albion’s Premier League opposition for the 2018/19 campaign continues with Newcastle United.

League Position 2017/18: 10th

Top league goalscorer: Ayoze Perez (8)

How did they do last season?

After bouncing straight back into the Premier League at the first time of asking, Newcastle United eventually managed to erase any relegation fears with an impressive run of form in February and March and secured a tenth-place finish.

But it was far from plain sailing during the first half of the season, as a run of just one win 12 games between the end of October and December left the Magpies firmly in the relegation picture.

Some shrewd business in the January transfer window, including the arrivals of Kenedy and Martin Dubravka, saw Rafael Benitez’s side move further away from the drop zone and into the top half of the table.

Newcastle’s emphatic 3-0 victory over Chelsea on the final day of the season ensured Benitez’s men ended the season on a high in an impressive first campaign back in the top flight.

The side failed to muster a lengthy cup run after being eliminated by Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup second round and were beaten 3-0 by eventual Emirates FA Cup winners Chelsea in the fourth round.

Who’s in charge?

Rafael Benitez

Rafael Benitez is arguably one of the most high-profile managers in the division after winning honours in Spain, Italy and England.

The 58-year-old rose to prominence at Valencia, where he led the club to their first La Liga title in 31 years in 2002 before winning the UEFA Cup two years later.

Benitez moved to Liverpool that summer and became the first Spaniard to manage in the Premier League. His first season in charge resulted in the Reds' dramatic victory in the Champions League Final, as they beat AC Milan on penalties to claim the trophy.

That trophy was followed by the FA Cup a year later, as the side overcame West Ham United in Cardiff. He secured his final piece of silverware on Merseyside with the Community Shield the following summer, before leaving the club by mutual consent in 2010.

A brief sixth-month spell at Inter Milan followed, but Benitez still managed to secure the Italian Super Cup and FIFA World Club Cup during his time at the San Siro.

The Spaniard was then appointed interim manager at Chelsea in November 2012 and led the club to success in the UEFA Europa League, with a 2-1 victory over Benfica in the final.

Benitez won another Italian Super Cup and Italian Cup during a two-year spell at Napoli, before he moved onto Real Madrid, where he spent just seven months before being dismissed in January 2016.

He moved onto Newcastle in April that year, but couldn’t  manage to prevent the Magpies from being relegated to the Championship. However, the side bounced straight back up as champions in 2016-17 before securing a comfortable mid-table finish last season.

Who should I keep an eye out for?

Jonjo Shelvey

Jonjo Shelvey has emerged as one of Newcastle’s stand-out players in recent seasons, and is known for his combative displays in the heart of midfield.

The 26-year-old has an impressive passing range and is often at the heart of everything going forward for Benitez’s men.

The former Charlton, Liverpool and Swansea midfielder played a key role in the Magpies’ 2016-17 Championship title success, and continued his impressive performances during the following campaign, leading to calls for an England call-up.

The midfielder found the net twice in the last campaign, after following up his strike in the FA Cup win over Luton Town with a crucial goal in a 2-1 victory away at Leicester City in April.

How did we fare against them last season?

Albion picked up four points from their two games with the Magpies last season, claiming a 1-0 victory on home soil before a 0-0 stalemate away from home two days shy of New Year.

Tomer Hemed fired home a close-range strike in the 51st minute to claim back-to-back home wins for the Seagulls, following a 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion in their previous game at the Amex Stadium.

The reverse fixture up on Tyneside saw little in the way of chances, but Mathew Ryan did have to be alert to make two fine saves to deny Isaac Hayden and Dwight Gayle from breaking the deadlock after half time.


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