Many see Newcastle United as the surprise package of the season but the fact that they are sitting in third place on merit comes as no surprise to their supporters. The team have lost only three league games all season and only twice on the road (at Liverpool and Manchester City) and while their form following the World Cup break did appear to dip slightly, they have shown no signs of those post cup disappointment blues that can often inflict both team and supporters alike.
As Tyneside remains buoyant and the team continues to confound its critics; playing a style of football that supporters of other clubs can only dream of, Eddie Howe and his backroom staff have got on with the job at hand; gathering maximum points at home and on the road.
The 2:0 defeat at the reigning champions Manchester City at the beginning of March was neither the foregone conclusion that many predicted, nor the score indicated. But for some poor finishing Howe’s team could have come away with a point; something that did not slip past City Coach Pep Guardiola at the time.
However, the four consecutive wins that followed that defeat to City have Howe’s team looking like real contenders for a Champions League place next season and while Guardiola is not exactly looking over his shoulder as City are currently 11 points clear of Newcastle Utd and challenging Arsenal for the title; both he and Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta must be impressed with the way Eddie Howe has gone about his business this season and any glance back will be very much with next season in mind as it is inevitable that Howe will be looking to strengthen his squad next season with the sort of quality signings that will make Newcastle United real championship contenders.
The Gtech Community stadium is one of the smallest grounds in the premier league with a capacity of only 17,250 but its well-designed group of stands on all four sides produces an excellent atmosphere. And that atmosphere will be reinforced backed by 1,750 dedicated and fanatical away supporters as the toon army travel down to London for the second time in four days.
Wednesday nights emphatic 1:5 win at the London Stadium against a shellshocked West Ham United had the away fans in raptures and another win on the road would not come as a surprise. However, Eddie Howe was taking nothing for granted at his pre match media briefing immediately after that victory.
Howe as always takes every match as its comes but the one thing you can guarantee is that he will have his team focused on gaining maximum points.