Four games in and Newcastle have just one point.
The Magpies occupy a place in the Premier League’s relegation zone, having tasted defeat three times already.
Rafa Benitez’s side performed well in defeats to Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City, but ultimately ended up empty handed. Newcastle’s only point came away to Cardiff in a game where they played particularly poor.
With better times surely ahead, here are five areas of concern for Newcastle after the opening four games:
No way of playing with Shelvey
Newcastle’s play-maker has not been since the draw with Cardiff due to injury, and performances on the pitch have suffered.
While the Magpies were able to remain solid defensively and stay in the game, they were woeful in possession. Newcastle lacked that composure on the ball and eye for a pass against Chelsea and City, which is exactly what Jonjo Shelvey brings to the table.
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The partnership of Mo Diame and Ki Sung-Yueng does not contain the craft that Shelvey brings, making it difficult for the Magpies to carve out chances.
It was an issue Newcastle had last season that wasn’t rectified over the summer, and Benitez will be hoping his number eight is back for the Arsenal game.
This wouldn’t have been an issue if a certain somebody had backed his manager this summer…
After the first game, Newcastle looked in bother due to injuries. DeAndre Yedlin went down with what looked like a very serious knee injury.
One week later, Javi Manquillo deputised (very poorly), before picking up an injury himself. Fortunately for Benitez, Yedlin’s injury wasn’t as serious as first feared, but it showed the fragility of their squad.
A couple of injuries can decimate Newcastle’s squad, with adequate replacements sadly not available.
Kenedy’s lack of form
In the second half of last season, you could argue that Kenedy was Newcastle’s best player.
Sadly, he’s been one of the worst this season.
The Brazilian had a disastrous time against Cardiff, in a game where he should have been sent off for a vicious kick. Kenedy could hardly make a pass, then his last-minute penalty was saved.
Newcastle need Kenedy to get back to his best, and soon. The Chelsea loanee can be sublime on his day, which is why Benitez was so desperate to bring him back to St James’ Park.
Struggling for goals
This might be a bit skewed by the calibre of opposition Newcastle have played, but their failures in front of goal still seem to be rearing their ugly head.
Against Tottenham, they were wasteful in front of goal, and a more ruthless team would have taken something out of that game.
We are yet to see Salomon Rondon play in a game where Newcastle aren’t defending for their lives. Hopefully he can address this issue and take some chances.
On the plus side, Joselu looks much more confident this season.
The next four fixtures
While they might be a bit easier than the opening four, Newcastle’s next four fixtures still aren’t easy on the eye.
First after the international break they host Arsenal, followed by a trip to Selhurst Park, which is always a tough ground to play at.
Leicester City then head to the North East, followed by a daunting trip to Old Trafford where the Magpies will take on Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
None of those games are ones you would look at and say ‘we’re definitely going to win that’…