Promoted Teams Analysis FPL 2017/18 Newcastle
With the 2016/17 season but a distant memory we can now look ahead to the new FPL season with renewed optimism, our batteries re-charged and ready for another 38 game weeks which will be filled with many a high and hopefully not so many lows. If you’re still lamenting a season of woe and underachievement and feeling slightly morose (remember you’re not alone, just ask David Moyes and most of the Sunderland squad), it’s now time to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and have a word with yourself as we look forward to FPL season 2017/18 – *collective hurrah!
Without the distractions of a fantasy international tournament (unless you’re a gluten for punishment, and like a few of us here, latched onto the Euro Under 21 competition in a desperate bid to fill that gaping hole in our daily lives) for many it will have felt like a long summer. If like me FPL dominates your every waking second (much to the chagrin of the bread knife – sorry pet) you’re sure to be seeking out every article known to man in preparation for next season, fortunately the powers that be here at FF247 towers have got you covered on that score.
As has been the way since the inception of the premier league 3 clubs have now departed so as we wave a sad farewell to Middlesbrough, Hull and Sunderland (mwhhahahah) we find ourselves with three new teams joining the Premier League and with them a whole host of new players to add to our roster of FPL picks.
Of the three promoted teams Championship teams Newcastle United are probably a team most are familiar with, but since their relegation at the end of the 2015/16 season a lot has changed for the Magpies.
We’re lucky/lumbered with not one but two Geordie boys in our regulars contingent, so who better to give you the low down on Rafa Beneitez’s black and white army than our very own Pj & Duncan; Rosco and Milburn…
‘Hello’ or as us Geordies like to say ‘Alreet’!
Well that was a little bit exciting wasn’t it? Ok, perhaps not that exciting for the vast majority of you, but hells bells up here in Newcastle we celebrated Jack Grealish’s 89th minute equaliser against Brighton with total delirium and a couple of Shandy’s.
As I stood in St James Park still cheering Dwight Gayle scoring Newcastle’s 3rd goal in our 3-0 win over Barnsley, news began to filter through that Aston Villa had equalised against Brighton and if the result stayed as it was Newcastle would win the Championship. As if that drama wasn’t enough the final whistle went with the Villa & Brighton match still in play. I looked round the ground and there wasn’t a single one of the almost 50,000 Newcastle supporters making their way for the exits, the players stood on the pitch awkwardly not quite sure what to do (a bit like me when I have to make small talk at Christenings). Then, (dramatic emphasis and crescendo music in head) it happens. The tannoy confirmed that Villa Vs Brighton had finished 1-1. We’d only went and flipping done it. Perhaps not as soon as many had predicted but we were the Champions. As the classic Queen anthem belted out of the ground (cheesy? maybe a little) but up here we have very few moments of true unbridled joy. I mean at Newcastle United not the depletion of coal or when Greggs is shut, so we’ll take what we can get, thank you very much. Not to be the Debbie downer but let’s face it we’re unlikely to win anything better anytime soon.
There were quotes in the national press that Newcastle ‘stumbled over the line’, relying on Brighton to slip up in order to claim the title. We’re used to such bitter sentiments and we laugh them off (ha ha ha – us laughing). Once a team lauded the ‘entertainers’ we have in recent years became a team most love to hate (sad times), but a kin to a Geordie lass going out in subzero conditions sans coat, we have thick skin up here. On the whole there is some merit in the theory that we should have wrapped things up sooner, we did after all have arguably the best manager in the division and a squad that was the best equipped for the championship. But to say we should have walked it is a little naive for a division known to be notoriously difficult to get out of. But here we are again, back in the Premier League and proud as punch.
So are there any Newcastle players worth your consideration in FPL this season? The transition from championship to PL is always a difficult one, a lot of us jumped on the Andre Gray bandwagon having seen the stats from his previous Championship campaign, and there have been a few decent returns but often few and far between. So whilst the stats of promoted players are impressive, approach with caution. For every Tom Heaton there’s a Victor Fischer waiting to lure you in and then let you down in spectacular fashion.
When it comes to constructing your first drafts on your brand spanking new Fantasy squad, you’ll no doubt look to a selection of players with pedigree, the mainstay of your team, your bread and butter (unless of course they get dropped/rotated/lose form). You’ll probably want 15 players from all the top teams, but as any Geordie mam will tell you; ‘I want never gets pet’. Faster than you can say fog on the Tyne you’ll realise you’ve blown your budget and you are up fantasy creek with no paddle (or a pot to p**s in) . You’ll then need to start browsing the budget options, attempting to get as many big hitters as your budget will allow. The promoted teams are often a good place to look, they’re usually priced competitively and if you get the right ones you will reap the rewards, Tom Heaton is a prime example of this.
So let us peruse the team that helped Newcastle secure promotion at the first time of asking. When Rafa Benitez agreed to stay on at Newcastle as they entered the Championship he was facing a very different task to that of his recent managerial career. He did however have experience of guiding teams from second tier football having taken both Extremadura and Tenerife from the Segunda División early in his career, and armed with this knowledge he very quickly set about creating a squad that was fully equipped for life in the Championship.
Big name players departed as is always the way, some like Andros Townsend we were sad to see go, some we were delighted and somewhat confused as to why anyone would pay almost £30 million for (hope you’re enjoying your Spurs season ticket Moussa Sissoko).
In the opposite direction came a group of players with either championship experience or players Rafa hoped would thrive in the lower division. The majority of these players proved to be a great success, some we were less enthusiastic about when they signed but turned out to be shrewd moves, and whilst not all these players will be retained as we move up to the Premier League, there is little doubt that we do have a decent core of players who deserve at least a crack and showing what they can do on the bigger stage.
During the 2016/17 campaign Newcastle not only scored the most goals (85) but they also conceded the least (40 – joint with Brighton). This was achieved largely down to a fairly settled back 4 and on more than one occasion the heroics of keeper Karl Darlow (and the toon army cheering them along with a gob full of steak bake). Let’s look at the ones that made us have a little spring in our black and white step…
Tim Krul who had been the Newcastle man between the sticks in the 3 years previous was sent out on loan in an attempt to regain fitness and retain
top-tier football. In the opposite direction came Belgium stopper Matz Sels for a reported £6.5 million, joining the 25 year old Karl Darlow and the injured Rob Elliot in our keeper ranks.
Sels was clearly intended as first choice and after keeping 4 clean sheets in a row he then came under fire for a series of suspect performances which seen him promptly dropped and few will be surprised if he departs for pastures new in the near future.
Karl Darlow stepped into the void having previously kept two clean sheets in the League cup and he would remain our keeper for the next 34 matches with 13 clean sheets along the way. There were rumours earlier in the season that Chelsea were considering an £8 million move for Darlow, a move which now seems unlikely. If Darlow can build on some solid performances in the championship he could be a solid second choice keeper in the PL.
The only thing between Darlow and a spot in Newcastle’s first 11 is Rob Elliot. Viewed by most as the best keeper currently on Newcastle’s books (excluding Tim Krul from this list if he does as is expected move during the summer),
Elliot who had previously suffered a spell on the sidelines through injury stepped back into the first team in the final three league games, keeping clean sheets in two out of three. It’s not yet clear if Rafa see’s Elliott as his first choice but like Darlow, Elliott can could be a very viable option if you go down the 2 budget goalkeeper route in your team.
Newcastle largely stuck to the traditional back 4 over the course of the Championship season. A big part of our success no doubt coming from the defence remaining fairly settled over the season.
Jamaal Lascelles made a name for himself during our relegation season, calling for ‘more effort’ from some of our so-called ‘big name players’ (brave move). His honesty earned the admiration of the fans and with some assured performances it was enough to convince Rafa to hand Lascelles the Captain’s armband for the Championship season. Lascelles made 41 appearances in the league and played a massive part in Newcastle’s 19 clean sheets, it’s no coincidence that he played in 16 of those matches. Many noted that his form dipped in the latter part of the season, he was responsible for conceding a few crucial goals as Newcastle went through a rocky patch. Once we had secured promotion it was announced that Lascelles had in fact been playing with a double hernia for 4 months in an effort to ensure promotion – What a man (poor bugger)!! Lascelles will likely be the first name on the team sheet come the start of the new season, he’s a solid defender who is capable of scoring important goals when called upon as he did so on 3 occasions in Newcastle Championship season.
Ciaran Clark has been a quiet success, it’s fair to say fans were not exactly overjoyed when it was announced he would be joining from fellow relegated team Aston Villa for just over £5 million, but he has shown himself to be a very accomplished defender (I was pleasantly surprised myself!). Partnering Lascelles in the heart of the Newcastle defence, Clark played 34 matches and was an instrumental part in keeping 13 clean sheets whilst on the pitch. Like Lascelles he’s not averse to getting up during set pieces and likewise he also chipped in with 3 goals over the season.
French Born defender Florian Lejeune became Newcastle’s second transfer acquisition of the summer, signing from Eibar after Newcastle met his £8.7M release clause. Lejeune was on the books of Manchester City in 2015 although never played a competitive match and spent the season on loan at Girona. He signed for Eibar in June 2016 and went on to make 34 league appearances for the club.
In a region often dominated by the local big boys Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad, Eibar continually over achieved last season and Lejeune played a major role in their success, making more clearances than any other defender in La Liga over the course of the season.
Given the comments coming from Rafa Benitez it seems likely that Lejeune will go straight into Newcastle’s starting 11, that said it might be wise to hold off on the Newcastle center backs until it’s a little clearer who if any of the current players on Newcastle’s books will partner Lejeune in the center of the their defense.
The signing of Lejeune could spell trouble for fan favorite Chancel Mbemba. Mbemba was largely missing during Newcastle’s Championship season, there were rumours of ‘problems’ upon his return from the African Cup of Nations, not returning to first team action until Newcastle’s last two fixtures. Calm and assured on the ball, Mbemba is solid and dependable at the back but it seems that he is not, for whatever reason, a player Rafa Benitez feels he can rely on and many wont be surprised if he moves on during the transfer window.
The most settled spot in Newcastle back four is at left-back. ‘Mr. Dependable’ Paul Dummett has made the spot his own. With little competition, Dummett played 44/46 matches and was on the pitch for 17 of Newcastle’s 19 clean sheets. Although he has been criticized occasionally from a minority of the fans and let’s face it is prone to the odd clanger… however, unless another left-back is brought in during the summer, then Dummett remains the least likely to be rotated squad member on the Newcastle back line.
The right back spot is a little less settled. Deandre Yedlin was snatched from our rivals Sunderland who were too busy tying up the services of the happy go-lucky David Moyes for a fee of £5 million. He shared right back duties with now departed Midfielder Vurnon Anita, clocking up 21 league starts and 6 appearances off the bench. Yedlin is a defender who likes to get forward at every opportunity, and has a goal and five assists to his name over the 2016/17 season. His rapid pace has at times offered a huge threat down the right and has often been the reason Matt Ritchie has been afforded so much space down that flank. If Yedlin can cement his place then he could provide a good option for those of us with a penchant for attacking fullbacks with a few assists over the season… he’s a bit like Daryll Janmatt just cooler looking and has nicer hair.
Jonjo Shelvey has been a revelation in midfield this season. He is without doubt Newcastle’s most naturally gifted player. Shelvey has largely been deployed as a deep lying playmaker and his distribution and ability to pick out passes most payers can only dream of has been instrumental in a lot of goals this season. Shelvey chipped in with 5 goals and 8 assists in his 38(4) appearances although most of these came early in the season against teams playing a high defensive line which Shelvey was able to expose, with more often than not Dwight Gayle the beneficiary.
As the season progressed, teams began playing a lot deeper to counter this threat, it will be interesting to see how effective this will be in the premiership, if afforded the time and space then Shelvey can hopefully replicate some of the form that had teams up and down the championship changing how they play in order to nullify Shelvey’s output.
With Shelvey being priced at £5.5m he could be a good shout for your 4th/5th midfielder but, buy with caution, Shelvey can be a naughty boy from time to time and is partial to the occasional ban…
If Shelvey is Newcastle’s most gifted player then Matt Ritchie is without Newcastle’s most effective. Many questioned Ritchie’s choice to drop down a league when he signed from Bournemouth in the summer of 2016, but what a signing he turned out to be. Ritchie has operated on the right wing, often the beneficiary of the quarterback-like distribution of Shelvey. Forming a partnership with Yedlin his grit and determination have seen him score 12 goals and assist 7 times, if that’s not enough to make you consider him for your team its worth noting he’s the main man up here on Tyneside, he’s on penalties, free kicks and corners. He’ll be one of the first names on Rafa’s team sheet and if he brings any kind of form to the FPL he could be a great pick. And all for just £6.0m.
Another player worth keeping an eye on is Ghanaian international Christian Atsu. Atsu is primarily a right-winger but has also been deployed on the left making 15 (17) appearances, scoring 5 goals and assisting 3 times. Atsu is one of the 450 payers loaned out from Chelsea during the 2016/17 season, Rafa has seen enough in him to take up the £6.5 million option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season so we can only assume that this will result in more pitch time in the coming season. If he builds on the undoubted potential he has, he could be another canny option for that all important 5th spot on your FPL team.
Rafa Benitez for the most part has favoured a 4-4-1-1 formation with an attacking midfielder playing off his front man. This role has been filled largely been shared between Ayoze Perez and Mohamed Diame.
Neither player did enough to make the role their own, Diame by his own admission hasn’t lived up the his own expectations, but in truth not a lot was expected from the player signed from newly promoted Hull for £4 million (my dog’s home team).
Perez, on the other hand was expected to flourish in the lower division but for large portions of this season the Spaniard has struggled against the gnarly brutes of the championship. Perez has always been seen as a lightweight but, there is no doubting that the lad can play and his technical ability has helped him to amass 9 goals and 6 assists in 25(11) making him our 3rd top goal scorer this season. Being classified as a forward in FPL this season doesn’t help his case much!
As the lone forward expected to provide the goals that would take Newcastle back up, responsibility was largely placed on the shoulders of new £10 million signing Dwight Gayle. As Andros Townsend headed to Crystal Palace, Gayle came the other way with a lot to prove. He made it clear from the start that he wanted Newcastle’s iconic number 9 shirt and whilst many relished his enthusiasm, few could envisage just how much of an impact the player would have on Newcastle’s promotion push… however he became instrumental to our return to the premiership, scoring an impressive 23 goals in 26 (6) starts Gayle put himself into contention to win the Championship’s golden boot only for the second half of his season to be scuppered by a reoccurring hamstring problem. Had he played more games, there is little doubt he would have added to an already impressive tally. Gayle is priced in the £6.5 Million price bracket so he’ll be the most likely Newcastle player to make it into many GW1 Teams in the 3rd striker role in the hope he can carry his form from Championship into the Premiership.
Sitting behind Gayle in Rafa’s pecking order is Mitro – no not the hit taking, rate my team 100 times a week posting Mitro we’re all familiar with and love here on FF247; Alexander Mitrovic the 6ft 2” mad Serbian, probably remembered by most of you for getting booked less than 3 seconds into his debut. Mitro divides opinion in the toon – those who appreciate his passion and enthusiasm for the team he supported as a boy and those who think his stats just don’t match up to his rumoured £12m price tag (but no one would say that to his face, obviously). 4 goals and 6 assists in 11(14) appearances isn’t bad for the 22 year old but at present one to avoid FPL wise for the time being as we may not see him much.
Likely to be moved on in the summer a special mention should go to Daryl Murphy, a surprise £3.5 Million acquisition from Ipswich Town Murphy proved to be a valuable member of Rafa’s squad. Murphy was called upon when both Gayle and Mitro picked up injuries and he didn’t disappoint, scoring 5 goals in 7(8) appearances, cheers!
Newcastle have a decent core squad and a few (if they can remain injury free and carry through their Championship form into the Premiership) could be worthy of a squad place in your 15. There is no denying that reinforcements are needed, something we’re confident Rafa will have in hand. In Rafa, Newcastle finally have a manager who’s up there with the best of them and he’s unlikely to settle for scrapping for Premier League survival. Financial backing is needed (and has been promised…again) so let’s just hope Ashley is a man of his word this time.
Milburn’s tips – (1) Matt Ritchie (2) Dwight Gayle (3) Deandre Yedlin
Rosco’s tips – (Probably the same as Milburn, but I’m a realist so I’ll be seeing how they take to the Premier League before letting my heart rule my head!)
Thanks for reading Promoted Teams Analysis FPL 2017/18 Newcastle. This article was written by Rosco and Milburn
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