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EPL Season Preview: Newcastle United

Team: Newcastle United Football Club

Nicknames: Magpies, the Toon

Location: Newcastle upon Tyne (Northwest England)

Stadium: St, James Park (Capacity: 52,387)

Last Year's Record:

Championship: 1st place, automatic promotion to Premier League

League Cup: Third Round, lost to Petersborough United

FA Cup: Fourth Round, lost to West Bromwich Albion

Manager: Chris Hughton is entering his third season at Newcastle and his first as the club's permanent manager. He was first name caretaker manager in 2008, moved into a lesser role six months later, and was appointed caretaker manager again before the 2009/10 season. After an excellent start to the season and three manager of the month awards in four months Hughton was named permanent manager. Last season he guided Newcastle to 102 points, 11 points ahead of West Bromwich Albion at the top of the Championship table.

Brief History: Newcastle were formed in 1892 and have had long periods of sustained success throughout their history. The club were a dominant force in the early years of the Football League, winning the First Division four times between 1904 and 1927. Newcastle have won six FA Cups, their last coming in 1955. Newcastle have had success in the fairly recent past, placing second in the Premier League 1995/96 and 1997/98 and playing Champions League football as recently as 2002/03 and 2003/04. It's been mostly downhill from there for the Magpies and their fortunes reached bottom on the final day of the 2008/09 season, when the Famous Aston Villa defeated them 1-0 and ensured their relegation. Financial difficulties, injuries, managerial tumult and poor personnel decisions have all played a role in Newcastle's decline.

Newcastle boasted a nifty +55 goal differential in the Championship last season and allowed only 35 on the campaign. Hughton seems to be a capable manager and though Newcastle aren't in the best financial situation, strong support and a stadium with a seating capacity of 50,000+ should help to ensure that they don't have the extreme financial difficulties many teams encounter when promoted. Staying up is never a simple task, but Newcastle are in as good a position as any club to do so.

Players to Watch: It is possible that a theme is emerging; Championship matches aren't easy to come by in the states and since Newcastle did not take part in the promotion playoffs I saw very little of them last season. 21 year old striker Andy Carroll netted 17 goals in league play and 19 in all competitions. Newcastle are captained by for Manchester United midfielder Alan Smith who has committed over 400 fouls in the Premier League which, holy crap. Peter Løvenkrands was Carroll's partner at striker and the two formed one of the more potent offensive forces in the Championship.

A Villa Fan Says..."Remember what happened last time you crossed us."