Newcastle supporters were delighted when Mike Ashley finally left the building earlier this season.
The news that the deal that he had long since agreed with the Saudi Arabian Investment Fund and PCP Capital Partners had been approved was greeted with wild scenes at St. James’ Park.
That joy was quickly tempered when Steve Bruce’s replacement wasn’t from the elite stable of top-flight managers, however.
Eddie Howe certainly has his plus points, one of which will be the front-foot intensity he likes his teams to play, as well as a pleasing passing style.
Whether that’ll be enough for the long-suffering Toon Army is debatable.
The first win of the season came at the 15th time of asking, and it may be the catalyst that Howe needs to see the Magpies flying back up the Premier League table.
It’s still a long-shot at this point and that’s reflected in their relegation odds 4/6
Another side with a new manager having been recently appointed is Aston Villa.
It’s not meant as a slight on Eddie Howe, but Steven Gerrard is a real step up for the Villains, and that’s already been shown with the swift turnaround in results and level of performance.
His standing in the game has naturally earned him the respect that it will likely take Howe and others a little longer to see come to fruition.
In the short space of time he’s been at the helm at Villa Park, there’s been a notable change in mentality and attitude.
Already up to mid-table after a number of recent wins, if the Midlands-based outfit are able to stabilise results until the transfer window and then buy well, there’s every chance that a Europa League spot is within their capabilities.
Losing Jack Grealish initially proved to be the problem that everyone expected, however, the focus has moved away from losing their talisman since Gerrard’s hire.
Now the only question is whether the former Rangers manager can replicate his success from north of the border.
BetVictor have odds of 8/13 for Villa to finish inside the top 10.
Villa before Gerrard:
– 10 points from eleven games
– 16th in the table
– Three points off relegation
Villa under Gerrard:
– 12 points from six games
– 9th in the table
– Six points off the top four
— BetVictor (@BetVictor) December 14, 2021
North London Rivals
So, Harry Kane stayed at Tottenham after all, but his scoring return of just one goal in 13 games is by far the worst of his career at White Hart Lane.
It’s more than a blip and, unless he leaves in January, it could prove a real problem for Antonio Conte, another new Premier League manager getting his feet under the table.
There’s certainly no chance of him winning the Premier League top scorer, but striker partner, Son Heung-min’s odds of 33/1 are good value, seeing as he finds himself in joint sixth position but only three goals behind second-placed Jamie Vardy.
The Lilywhites finally look as if they might be turning a corner under the Italian, and at 7/2, they look a good bet for a top four finish.
North London rivals Arsenal have been superb one week and flattered to deceive the next, as seven wins and six losses would evidence.
Strangely for two teams in the top seven, both the Gunners and Spurs have negative goal differences, and that is where their issues lie.
At least Mikel Arteta’s side have recovered well from their awful start to the season, a hangover from the 2020/21 campaign.
There’s more coherence to their play and, on their day, Arsenal remain one of the best teams in the division.
In Odegaard, Saka, Smith Rowe, Tomiyasu, Ramsdale and Martinelli, Arteta has the players to bring sustained success.
If they can tighten up defensively, like all the best Gunners sides of yesteryear, then they too will breeze into the Champions League positions.
Having said that, disciplinary problems at the club continue to rear their ugly head.
On this occasion, it’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that has fallen foul of Arteta’s code, and being stripped of the captaincy and left out of the side surely spells the end for his time at the club.
"You can see they're going to be special players."
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 18, 2021
What began as another exciting campaign at Elland Road has swiftly turned into one where relegation can’t be ruled out if Leeds can’t get their act together quickly.
Seemingly, Marcelo Bielsa can’t play any other way than having his XI on the front foot at all times.
Passing is swift and accurate from back to front, and the swashbuckling style is certainly easy on the eye, but not only have Leeds not scored anywhere near enough goals (18 at the time of writing in 18 games), only three wins suggests that opposition teams have worked them out.
If they can find some of their form from last season, there’s an outside chance – BetVictor’s odds are 10/1 – of a top 10 finish, but at present late, late goalscoring interventions appear to be their stock-in-trade, and a relegation dogfight can’t be out of the question.