Mark Lawrenson was quoted in his column in the Mirror stating he believes Newcastle United won’t even finish top 6 let alone the Champions League places.
In some ways I can see his point, with the top 3 all but decided the coveted last Champions League place is priceless. With Newcastle trying to fend off Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal it is not so farfetched to say Newcastle may finish the season in 7th place.
Although Alan Pardew has done a terrific job this season and so have his Newcastle players, here are 3 stumbling blocks I can see standing in their way of Champions League qualification.
Firstly, the experience factor. In the modern game having the experience is crucial just look how many titles Manchester United have won without playing well but through their experience of how to win trophies. Arsenal has qualified for the CL in every season under Arsene Wenger and it is that experience and belief in Wenger and his players which put them ahead of Newcastle.
Chelsea, although a new experience for them after fighting for the title for so many seasons, have the experience of winning trophies which will carry them through. Often described as ‘winning ugly’, Chelsea’s experienced squad know how to get the results to carry them over the line and therefore have to be put ahead of Newcastle in the fight for fourth.
Finally, Liverpool seems to be gathering pace, with the exception of a very poor performance at Old Trafford. They have an experienced manager who knows how to get the results required and with players like Steven Gerrard have the leadership to carry them through.
Secondly, the squad. Although Newcastle have had a terrific season thus far, mainly down to the exceptional performances of Demba Ba, their squad certainly has holes, which in the run-in may just see them fall away. For instance, at the start of the season Newcastle was outstanding in their defending, but when Steven Taylor got injured cracks started to show. If a similar injury was to occur to Ba, Tiote or Cabaye then the players in reserve are not of a calaber that finishing fourth requires.
Finally, the run-in. Newcastle have some very tough games to come, including Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City. Throw in difficult games at the Hawthorns, the Liberty Stadium and Goodison Park and the fixture list has not been kind to Newcastle.
The important fixtures are against their immediate rivals, they visit the Emirates in 3 weeks before a visit from Liverpool and finally a trip to Stamford Bridge. I revert to my first point about experience, in these 3 games I believe the experience of the other 3 clubs will be crucial and may just be enough to see off what will no doubt be a battling Newcastle performance.
With the topsy turvy performance of all clubs involved in the race for forth it seems likely the final 2 games of the season will be crucial and with Newcastle playing Manchester City at home who will be looking for the title no doubt and then a visit to Goodison Park where Chelsea have already come unstuck this season I don’t see many points for Newcastle.
I wouldn’t agree totally with Mark Lawrenson as the form of Chelsea and Arsenal lately has hardly been inspiring, I think Newcastle fans have to believe they may just pull it off but I would advise them to hope rather than expect.
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