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MATCH PREVIEW – Sunderland AFC vs Plymouth Argyle: The Black Cats look to make it back-to-back home wins and could move into automatic promotion places with victory

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Credit: @sunderlandafcofficial instagram - Sunderland look to make it back-to-back home wins...

Sunderland welcome fellow promotion hopeful’s Plymouth to the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon following their midweek demolition of the Shrimps.

A win for the home side could see them return to the automatic promotion places once again and would add to the momentum created by their current five-game unbeaten run.

Rotherham and Wigan are amongst the three teams above Sunderland in the table and both have 41 points, with Wigan having played a game less.

The sides will be expecting to win their home games against Burton and Ipswich respectively but a slip up from either team could see the Wearsiders move into the automatic promotion spots.

Wycombe are in third and have played a game more than Sunderland and two more than Wigan so are expected to drop down the table once everyone has played the same number of fixtures. They are also on 41 points and face 17th place AFC Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon.

Despite slip-ups being unlikely this game-week, Sunderland must keep their momentum going and add to the pressure on the teams above them as the Black Cats remain one of the most in-form teams in the league.

Manager Lee Johnson will be happy with his sides display on Tuesday evening after they showed an attacking ruthlessness and pressed with a high-intensity but will know good performances must continue if his side are to gain promotion back to the Championship.

Sunderland have moved up to third after five games without a loss and head into the weekend’s clash just two points adrift of the automatic promotion places.

Although they failed to claim victory in the Oxford clash last weekend, that result didn’t dampen spirits in the Sunderland dressing room as they thumped Morecambe 5-0 in midweek.

Leon Dajaku managed to get himself on the scoresheet once again, and there was a goal each for Ross Stewart and Alex Pritchard, while Nathan Broadhead netted a brace.

Credit: @sunderlandafcofficial instagram

Lee Johnson named an unchanged team for the third consecutive game as the Black Cats faced the Shrimps on Tuesday evening, but did play a slightly tweaked formation. The manager has identified the need to move to a more fast-passed and front-foot style in his quest for promotion.

Therefore Sunderland are playing more direct and have a team full of mobile attackers – but more steel might be required against albeit a much tougher opponent this weekend in Plymouth, who themselves are battling for promotion.

The Wearsiders look to claim seven points from a possible nine in their fixtures this week and will be hopeful of drawing upon their impressive home form that has helped them to win eight of their ten games at the Stadium of Light this term.

Steven Schumacher will be take charge of his first away game as Plymouth Argyle boss when his side travel to the North East for Saturday’s League One encounter and will be looking for his side to get their first win in five League One games.

The Pilgrims, who were once table toppers, have dropped down to fifth in the table but are still in the hunt for promotion and will be hoping to be galvanised under their new boss.

Only two points separate Schumacher’s side and Sunderland, meaning the visitors could leapfrog the Black Cats with a victory.

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  • The last league encounter between these clubs was in League One last season and finished Plymouth Argyle 1-3 Sunderland.
  • Sunderland have scored at least 2 goals in 6 of their last 7 matches against Plymouth in all competitions.
  • Sunderland have earned the most home points (25) and conceded the fewest home goals (5) of any side in League One so far this season.

TEAM NEWS

Sunderland are still without Dennis Cirkin, Corry Evans and Denver Hume due to injury issues. The hosts are also missing the injured duo of Aiden McGeady and Niall Huggins until 2022. Luke O’Nien is recovering from surgery.

Frederik Alves and Will Harris joined Sunderland’s growing injury-list last week and there doesn’t seem to be many previously injured players back available for selection to face Plymouth,

After such an impressive display in midweek, Lee Johnson could name an unchanged lineup for Saturday’s contest, for the fourth game running.

Plymouth are likely to keep changes to a minimum, although Danny Mayor may come into the side with Ryan Broom dropping to the bench.

Ryan Hardie has top-scored for the visitors this season, and he will continue his forward partnership with Luke Jephcott on Saturday.

Brendan Galloway remains the only confirmed absentee for Plymouth.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

SAFC:                                                                                                                                       Plymouth:

 

Thoughts? Will Sunderland make it back-to-back home wins? Can Johnson’s side return to the top of League One?

Join in the conversation and have your say…

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Fantasy Premier League: Newcastle’s top players prices revealed

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@OfficialFPL via Twitter

Fantasy Premier League have revealed the prices for eleven of Newcastle’s top players next season. 

With the 2022/23 Premier League season fast approaching, clubs have been revealing their Fantasy Premier League prices.

There are some promising bargains among the Magpies’ ranks. Newcaslte’s 2021/22 top FPL point scorer Allan Saint-Maximin will remain just £6.5m. He has been reclassified from midfield to attack, and so players may find it harder to make space for him with more limited forward positions.

Newcastle’s most expensive player will be Callum Wilson. Last season’s top scorer will be worth £7.5m in the game. Users will hope that if he can avoid last season’s injury woes he will be guaranteed big points.

Midfielder Bruno Guimarães has increased in price to £6m. The Brazilian was listed at a meagre £5m on his arrival in January, but his form since then has earned him a higher price tag. With five goals and an assist in just seventeen Premier League appearances last season he will still be a tempting proposition.

Fellow January arrival Kieran Trippier will be valued at £5m. He only managed six appearances for Newcastle last season but scored two goals from free kicks in that spell. As a set-piece taking defender, Trippier has the potential to make significant point contributions from the back.

New keeper Nick Pope will look promising at £5m after proving his abilities with Burnley. He may be sharing game-time with Martin Dúbravka, which could see his points total limited. Other Magpies players not guaranteed minutes include Joe Willock (£5m), Fabian Schar (£4.5m) and Chris Wood (£6m).

Fans will also hope that more talent is set to arrive at St James’ Park before the start of next season, with plenty of time left in the transfer window.

Elsewhere, other top players have had their prices revealed. At present, players from fifteen clubs have been announced.

Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamad Salah are the most expensive players listed so far. Both come in at the high price of £12m, but are bound to prove popular with users nonetheless.

Erling Haaland is next highest priced, at £11.5m for Man City’s new striker. Cristiano Ronaldo, if he remains at Old Trafford, will be worth £10.5m. The Portuguese striker started last season at a record cost of £12.5m. Despite the drop in price, he was last season’s second highest scoring attacker at 159 points.

The Premier League season kicks off on 5th August with Arsenal vs Crystal Palace, with Newcastle facing newly promoted Nottingham Forest on Saturday 6th.

Who will be included in your team? Have your say on our Facebook page…

North East Updates will have our Fantasy Football League – stay tuned for updates on how to join.

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Eddie Howe’s pre-season: Opposition, Venues and more.

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Pre-season is vital when it comes to preparing for a new season for all football clubs around the world. It is a time where you can test different tactics, experiment with young and new players and overall get a sense of where your squad is at before the start of the new season.

For Newcastle, they have plenty of games to test the waters and give new signings like Nick Pope and Sven Botman time to get up to scratch before the start of the new Premier League season.

First, they play Gateshead in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Newcastle United Training Centre on Saturday, 9th July. Gateshead are managed by former Magpies defender Mike Williamson and their side have just been promoted to the National League after winning the National League North.

Eddie Howe’s side will then travel to Austria for a week-long training camp where they will play two games.

The first opposition is TSV 1860 Munich who currently play in the third tier of German football, 3. Liga. The match will take place on Friday, 15th July and will be played at the SaalfeldenArena Burgerau, kick-off is set for 6 pm local time. The former champions of Germany have had success in the past when they finished as runners-up in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1964/65 season. The Toon met with this side in the UEFA Intertoto Cup back in 2001, Newcastle won 6-3 on aggregate across the two legs. One of Munich’s best players, Marcel Bar, scored 21 goals in 37 appearances last season.

Then, Newcastle play Mainz on Monday, 18th July in what will be their third pre-season fixture. The match will be played at the 4,500-capacity Kufstein Arena and will kick-off at 5 pm local time. Mainz, currently managed by Bo Svensson, finished 8th in the Bundesliga last season. The last time the two sides met was in a pre-season game back in the summer of 2017, Mainz came out on top winning 2-1. Some of their best players include Jonathan Burkardt who managed to bag himself 11 goals and 3 assists last season as well as Moussa Niakhate who scored 8 goals and assisted 5 times.

The Toon then have eight days to prepare for their next pre-season fixture as they travel to Portugal to play Benfica at the Estadio da Luiz for the Eusebio Cup. The match will take place on Tuesday, 26th July and will kick-off at 8 pm local time. Benfica finished third in the Portugal Liga Nos last season. It’s been 9 years since the sides last met in the Europa League quarter-finals when Papiss Cisse’s goal in the second leg wasn’t enough and the Magpies exited the competition losing 4-2 on aggregate. Benfica were knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals by Liverpool last season and some of their best players include Rafa Silva who came out with 23 goal contributions last season and Alex Grimaldo who scored 5 and assisted 5 from left-back last season.

To finish pre-season the Toon then face a double-header at St James’ Park. The first game played on Friday, 29th July will be against Atalanta. It is expected that Howe will split his first-team squad across the two fixtures and play two completely different teams. Atalanta finished 8th in Serie A last season and exited the Europa League quarter-finals following a 3-1 aggregate defeat to RB Leipzig. Mario Pasalic is one of their best players and had a very successful 2021/22 season which saw him earn 20 goal contributions from centre midfield in the league. The match will kick-off at 7:45 pm in St James’ Park

Newcastle will then face Spanish side Athletic Bilbao, just a week before the first game of the Premier League season against Nottingham Forest to finish their pre-season. Bilbao finished 8th in La Liga last season and were close to cup success, following a 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final. Inaki Williams who hasn’t missed a single game for the Spanish side in over six years is a threat up-front and captain Iker Muniain will also be a danger for the Toon following last season where he managed 10 assists and 4 goals.

Ticket information for these games are to be confirmed soon.

So what do you think of the pre-season fixtures and how many wins will Eddie Howe’s side manage in what promises to be an exciting season ahead.

Join the conversation on our Facebook page …

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Transfer update: NUFC looking at Bayern and Leeds forwards and defensive departures

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Image: @premierleague via Twitter

After confirming the signing of defender Sven Botman, and long-term target Hugo Ekitike off the table, Newcastle are set to look elsewhere in the transfer market.

The signing of Reims forward Hugo Ekitke is now in doubt. Reports are that the players’ agent, Karl Mwalako Buchmann, has brought discussions to a standstill. Newcastle were close to completing a move for the young winger in January and again this summer. 

With these two long running sagas appearing over, Eddie Howe and Dan Ashworth will work on other transfers.

Securing Matt Targett, Nick Pope and Sven Botman marks a positive transfer window already for the Magpies, but their search for attacking reinforcements will continue.

According to The Chronicle, Eddie Howe wants a winger and a striker to compete with Callum Wilson next season.

One attacker Newcastle have been linked with is Leeds’ Jack Harrison. The club are reported to have enquired about Harrison. The talented 25-year old would seem a good fit in the Newcastle squad, and fit with the attractive stlye of football Eddie Howe has his side playing. 

Per the Telegraph’s Luke Edwards, Newcastle are keen on Harrison but have a limited budget remaining.

With Leeds forward Raphinha looking set to leave Elland Road for Chelsea, it could take a lot for Newcastle to persuade Leeds to depart with another winger. 

Reports from Belgium have suggested Newcastle are competing to sign striker Joshua Zirkzee from Bayern Munich. The Dutchman spent last season on a successful loan spell at Anderlecht. The 21-year old has also drawn interest from Ajax.

Zirkzee scored 16 and made 9 assists in 38 appearances for the Belgian side during his loan spell last season.

In terms of departures, the arrival of Sven Botman could make way for Jamaal Lascelles to leave. The captain has long been linked with a return to Nottingham Forest. 

Lascelles’ inclusion in marketing for Newcastle’s new third kit has been seen as a sign that the club are unwilling to part with the player. As an experienced player he could provide continuity in Newcastle’s new-look back four. It remains to be seen whether he would be content to play second fiddle to players like Botman, or move in search of more game time.

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