This weekend’s loss to Leicester was a very concerning moment in our season. Taking the lead again but failing to hold on, this time not against a top four team, is happening far too often. The biggest kick in the teeth was losing to an own goal in the 86th minute, our early season luck seems to have run out. Newcastle have dropped the most points from leading positions this season (11), which cannot continue if we are to avoid relegation.
Games against sides such as Huddersfield, Brighton, Bournemouth and Leicester were opportunities where I thought we could pick up valuable points, but we’ve got no points from any of these teams so far. The most worrying stat is 1 point from the last 21 available, especially heading into the difficult and demanding festive period. Even though Rafa Benitez is held with almost God-like status in Geordie-land, he can’t be absolved of any blame, and if this current run of form continues then his position may come into question.
The potential takeover everyone was hoping would happen before the January transfer window looks like it’s on hold due to our slump in form, which means no reinforcements at least until the end of the season, when it may be too late. To finish on a more positive note, at least Jamaal Lascelles is back and available for selection, we’ve suffered massively during his absence and hopefully he can help steady the ship over the busy Christmas period.
City all but seal the title – plus another ‘battle of the buffet’
Man City’s win at Old Trafford in the Manchester derby has, barring a catastrophic collapse, wrapped up their third Premier League title. They dominated the game against bitter rivals Man United, although both of their goals were fortunate and could have been defended better if their opponents possessed the massive budget that City are fortunate to. United will have to win all their remaining matches this season and hope City lose four in order to catch up, which is nigh-on impossible.
In the tunnel after the game, there was a strange incident many are calling ‘milk-gate’. Jose Mourinho wasn’t happy with the Man City players due to their over-enthusiastic celebrations, and after he made his concerns known to them, he found a pint of milk flying towards him. It missed and hit a female member of staff, and City coach Mikel Arteta ended up with a cut to his eye. Strange, but it shows how much the derby means to both teams, and although City don’t say so in public, they know they have one hand on the title.
Benteke turns villain
In slightly more bizarre news, Christian Benteke became the villain of all Crystal Palace fans when he missed a game-winning penalty in the last minute of their relegation six-pointer against Bournemouth after convincing Palace’s regular penalty taker, who had scored one earlier, to let him take it instead. Benteke hasn’t scored a goal all season and was desperate to break his drought from the penalty spot, only to present a tame effort straight into the hands of Asmir Begovic in the Bournemouth goal.
His manager, Roy Hodgson, was furious, as were most of his teammates and fans, with whom he has to make a major relationship rebuilding effort. I remember the Benteke from his early Aston Villa days, banging in the goals on a prolific basis, and hope he can get that back, just not until Newcastle are safe from relegation!