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Season preview: Newcastle United

Matt Ritchie picks up a loose ball in stride and thumps a marvelous strike inside the far post to net Newcastle's equalizer against Tottenham.

Newcastle United news, season preview: The 2020-21 Premier League season is almost here and our season previews will give you all of the information you need to know about each of the 20 PL clubs.

Let’s go!

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

This is our Newcastle United season preview, and you can click on the link above to find out exactly how you can watch every single Magpies game live in the USA across our platforms at NBC Sports.

[ PHOTOS: Ranking new kits for 2020-21 PL season ]

Okay, time to focus on Newcastle United’s route to another season in the Premier League and another step up the table.

Newcastle United

2019-20 finish: 13th in Premier League (11W-11D-16L, 44 points)
Head coach: Steve Bruce
2019-20 top scorer: Jonjo Shelvey (6 goals)
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

ProSoccerTalk’s key topic on Newcastle United: What to expect after the weirdest year in a series of weird years.

It says a lot about Newcastle that Steve Bruce doing an adequate job after replacing Rafa Benitez and the team staying above the drop zone was a combination fit to be hailed by many pundits as Manager of the Year type stuff.

Newcastle ground out a lot of points last season that even now seem wild achievements. The Magpies won away to Tottenham at drew as visitors to Wolves and Everton. They beat Chelsea and Manchester United at home, where they also drew Man City and Wolves.

There were also nil-nils against Norwich and Burnley at home, and the Magpies only took one of six points from the Canaries and fellow relegated side Watford (At least they swept Bournemouth).

The Magpies also had to deal with the biannual takeover talk, this one reaching an agreement before walking away in the night over a prolonged approval process (Wait... what’s that? It’s still in the headlines every day? Cool. Cool. Shouldn’t be a distraction at all).

So who is this team? The one that expected goals said could’ve scored a boatload more of goals if Joelinton and Miguel Almiron sorted out the chances they produced or the one that was saved by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka on a number of occasions? If it’s the latter and those saves become goals, Bruce will be gone and the Magpies may well go down.

Newcastle United news: The current situation

Bruce has added proven Premier League talent from two relegated sides in the forms of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser of Bournemouth plus left back Jamal Lewis of Norwich City. They also collected work-monger Jeff Hendrick on a free from Burnley.

They badly need help at fullback and/or a bounceback year from USMNT mainstay DeAndre Yedlin and an upgrade at defensive midfielder or left back would be a plus.

That said, there is talent here if Bruce can marshal it into a more cohesive unit. Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, and Almiron can conjure the sublime. Better finishing in front combined with a center back corps led by Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar, and Federico Fernandez that is very deep could see the Magpies into midtable.

Key Newcastle United news, season objectives

  • Find reliable scoring: Shelvey leading the team in scoring is almost as alarming as that his goal total was six. Newcastle got nothing from forwards last year, a combination of snakebit and poor (Miguel Almiron and Joelinton scored six combined goals when their combined xG was nearly 14). Callum Wilson is a big bet to help that.
  • Sort out the defense: Newcastle’s defensive problems were masked by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who was named the team’s Player of the Season and the main reason Newcastle outperformed expected goals conceded by 9.03. Only Arsenal and Sheffield United did “better.”
  • Restore the level: The Magpies should’ve finished with a league-worst 31 points according to the xG table, a combination of very good goalkeeping, Shelvey from distance, and show-stopping playmaking from Allan Saint-Maximin propelling them into safety. The Magpies have to engineer more even performances with a few more chances produced and a few less demands of stardom from Dubravka.

Transfers in

  • Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) Free More info
  • Mark Gillespie (Motherwell) Free
  • Niall Brookwell (Liverpool) Free
  • Jeff Hendrick (Burnley) Free More info
  • Jamal Lewis (Norwich City)
  • Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) More info

ProSoccerTalk’s prediction for Newcastle United in 2020-21

This really feels like a case of extremes. The Magpies could start well with West Ham, Brighton, and Burnley as three of their first four opponents but emerging from there with 1-2 points could be the start of a relegation campaign.

Ultimately, though, betting on Almiron, Wilson, and Saint-Maximin to produce 15-20 goals isn’t unruly, especially if the last name on that list is also contributing a half-dozen assists. Newcastle will finish outside the bottom three but whether that is assured in March or the final weekend is anyone’s guess.New