Newcastle United will kickstart their 2022/23 Premier League campaign on Saturday when they host newly-promoted Nottingham Forest at St. James Park.
The Premier League is back, and Newcastle United will look to begin their new season in the same fashion they ended the last when they welcome Premier League newcomers Nottingham Forest to St James’ Park.
The Magpies finished the 2021/22 season on a high note, in fact, their 49 points season tally was their highest since returning to the Premier League in 2017 – that despite failing to win any of their first 14 games and having only 11 points and one win before the start of the year.
Eddie Howe did a great job with the team last season, and the rapid-fire rebuild last season pointed to a team on the rise, both on and off the pitch. Newcastle are averaging two points per game in 2022, with only Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester City ahead of them in that particular stat.
Extrapolated over a full Premier League season, that is enough to see them secure a UEFA Champions League berth. However, football does not work that way. Other teams around Newcastle have bolstered their squads drastically and, teams will now be prepared to play through Howe’s mid-block system which he utilized the last term.
Still, this hugely impressive turnaround has gotten St James’ Park rocking again after years of negligence, and these are exciting times for supporters. Newcastle have strengthened their squad ahead of the new season, spending over £50 million on Sven Botman, Nick Pope, and Matt Targett.
So, it would not be a huge surprise to see them break into the top ten, or maybe make a push for lower-tier European football as the new season progresses, especially if they can make some top-notch offensive acquisitions to add more firepower to their attack.
They've taken more points in 2022 than Arsenal and Chelsea.
They're the only side in PL history to survive relegation after failing to win any of their opening 14 matches.
A team the Toon faithful can be proud of.
— bet365 (@bet365) August 5, 2022
Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest will play their first Premier League game in 23 years on Saturday. Steve Cooper performed miracles to steer Forest to the Premier League, having taken over the reins when they were rock-bottom of the Championship last year.
Needless to say, the two-time European champions have made a noisy return to the top-flight with an extremely busy transfer window. They have spent close to £100 million and have made no fewer than 12 first-team additions to their squad as they look to build a solid team ahead of a rigorous top-flight campaign.
It does not seem that they are yet done in the window as they continue to be linked with several other players. It remains to be seen whether their scattergun approach will bring desired results in the Premier League, but they do have an incredibly tough opener on their hands.
Team News & Tactics
The Magpies boss Eddie Howe will be without the services of midfield lynchpin Jonjo Shelvey, who has pulled up with a hamstring injury during pre-season, casting a doubt over his involvement in the initial run of games. But keeping that aside, Howe has a clean bill of health to pick his starting lineup from with Javier Manquillo, Federico Fernandez, and Jamal Lewis expected to be available for selection.
Howe will be keen to carry on the feel-good factor at St James’ Park and demand his players to implement intense press from the get-go to stamp their authority on the game as they attempt to play a possession-heavy, attacking brand of football. The manager could continue with the 4-3-3 system that he widely utilized the last term.
New signing Sven Botman has featured heavily in the pre-season and is set to make his Premier League debut for the Magpies, slotting alongside Fabian Schar at the heart of the defence. New goalkeeper Pope may have to wait a little longer to make his bow, with Martin Dubravka set to take his place between the sticks.
Kieran Trippier is an automatic pick at right-back when fit due to his playmaking and crossing abilities, whereas Matt Targett offers added defensive solidity down the opposite flank. Brazilian midfield maestro Bruno Guimaraes showed incredible impetus to make crucial contributions in the final third, but in the absence of Shelvey, he will be assuming more of a deep-lying playmaker role.
Having completed his redemption arc from a record flop to Newcastle’s Player of the season 2021/22, Joelinton will be looking to build on his impressive form in his box-to-box, ball-winning midfielder role, while Howe may prefer Willock ahead of Sean Longstaff to form an all-action midfield three.
Callum Wilson is expected to spearhead the Magpies’ attack, with Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin offering support from the wider attacking positions. Highly-rated attacking midfielder Elliot Anderson could also see some minutes with teams now allowed to make five subs during the game.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Trippier, Botman, Schar, Targett; Willock, Guimaraes, Joelinton; Almiron, Wilson, Saint-Maximin
Nottingham Forest’s new signing Omar Richards has picked up an injury and could spend a significant period on the sidelines. Ryan Yates is also not likely to return until mid-August due to a pre-season injury, but striker Sam Surridge has fully recovered after his groin surgery at the end of last season. Manager Steve Cooper should start a host of summer signings for their season opener.
Cooper is likely to deploy a pragmatic 3-4-1-2 formation for the Newcastle clash. Dean Henderson is nailed on to start in goal after a strong pre-season following his loan move from Manchester United. Summer signing Moussa Niakhate should slot straight into the three-man central defensive unit, with Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna on either side of him.
Nottingham Forest's squad depth ahead of the 2022-23 season [updated]
Orel Mangala is the latest signing for Forest, which takes the number of signings up to twelve (including Brandon Aguilera).
— Liam Henshaw (@HenshawAnalysis) July 31, 2022
New arrivals Neco Williams and Harry Toffolo will be the wing-backs and could be essential in providing essential width. Lewis O’Brien will be a vital cog in the double-pivot thanks to his wide range of passing.
There is less certainty about who will partner with him, though. With Yates doubtful and Orel Mangala having only one week of training under his belt, it seems likely that Jack Colback will deputise in midfield against his former club. Finally, in attack, Jesse Lingard is set to start behind a front two of Brennan Johnson and new addition Taiwo Awoyini, making the visitors a potent outfit.
Nottingham Forest are unlikely to have much of the ball, thus the key to a positive outcome will be their defensive stability and what they offer in attacking transitions, as their front-three does have the pace to pick apart the opponent’s defence.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Henderson; Worrall, Niakhate, McKenna; N.Williams, Colback, O’Brien, Toffolo; Lingard; Awoniyi, Johnson
- In what has been a dramatic turnaround since the turn of the year, Newcastle have already won more Premier League games in 2022 (12) than in 2020 (9) and 2021 (8).
- Newcastle have won seven of their last eight Premier League home matches and Eddie Howe’s men will be eager to make St James’ Park a fortress once again this season.
- The Magpies have only won their Premier League opener in one of their last eight seasons (D1 L6), beating West Ham United 2-0 in the 2020/21 campaign.
- Nottingham Forest have a good recent record against Newcastle, having won three of the last four competitive encounters between the two teams, notably knocking them out of the EFL Cup twice in a row in 2017 and 2018.
- That said, Newcastle United are undefeated in their last eight Premier League games against newly-promoted sides (W3 D5).
Player to Watch
While Forest have surprised everyone by snapping Jesse Lingard under the noses of other established top-flight clubs, striker Taiwo Awoniyi has been their most impressive addition thus far. The Reds splashed out £17.5 million to bring Awoniyi to the City Ground. The 24-year-old is coming off his most prolific season ever, netting 20 goals in 43 appearances for Union Berlin in all competitions.
Out of these, 15 came in Bundesliga, with his goal-scoring exploits a key reason behind Die Eisernen’s unlikely surge into UEFA Europa League spots last term. The Nigerian international is the perfect definition of a modern centre-forward who looks like a target man thanks to his athleticism, and physique but is very adept at effortlessly switching into the advanced forward role, full of running and often willing to drift wide and give the full-backs a torrid time.
Most of his goals last season were scored after counter-attacks due to his acceleration and body strength which bodes well for the newly-promoted Forest, who will mostly have to rely on transitions to breach Premier League defences. Awoniyi will have opportunities with Lingard and Johnson as the supply chain, and he will be eager to get off the mark straightaway here.
Newcastle United 3-1 Nottingham Forest
On paper, Newcastle have the upper hand as they boast far more experience and quality compared to the visitors. However, playing against newly promoted teams can be a tricky proposition on the opening day, with the likes of Brentford and Swansea pulling off upsets in recent memory, buoyed by the momentum and passion of making it into the big league.
Expect Forest to give it a real go, and they could pose problems with their new attacking additions, which could see them score in what should be an exciting affair. The Magpies, though, have enjoyed a decent pre-season, and are coming into the game after back-to-back wins against Atalanta and Athletic Club, which should give the team ample confidence heading into this new season.
Moreover, facing Newcastle at the fortress that is St James’ Park is never an easy task for any top-flight outfit, let alone a newly-promoted one. That is why Hard Tackle backs Eddie Howe’s troops to get the job done here and get their season off to a winning start.