The Magpies have been excellent this season and could secure their first Champions League qual­i­fi­ca­tion in 20 years.

Newcastle United's rise into the top four has been one of the stories of this Premier League season, as Eddie Howe's excellently coached side have been a massive force to be reckoned with.

Having recruited intelligently with the help of their financial muscle from their new ownership, this, in combination with how Howe's instilled his philosophy so effectively and what a united group they've become, has proven a recipe for success.

Sitting third in the table and right on track for a coveted Champions League finish, there doesn't appear any sign the team that's won eight of their last 11 games will be slowing down despite their recent loss against Arsenal. “The lads have been incredible in every game bar one or two this season," Howe insisted recently.

“They’ve given me absolutely everything. Now we have four (now three) games to try to consolidate all of that effort to achieve something remarkable. That’s what we’re looking to do, just keep our nerve, keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully, it will be enough.”

A nightmare to play against with their relentless approach that's full of intensity, aggression and energy, it'd take a brave man to bet against them securing Champions League qualification for the first time in 20 years.

A very complete team, who excel in all phases and play to their strengths, Howe deserves immense credit for helping his team improve steadily week after week since his arrival in 2021.

To start with their defensive efforts, and they undertake their work coherently, collectively and cohesively to ensure they're a tough team to break down and face off with.

Receiving glowing praise from all over for their dogged, compact and well-organised pressing, this has set the tone for them to impose themselves on their adversaries to immediately place them on the back foot.

So aware of their roles and responsibilities, they know exactly when to press, how to angle their harrying to use their cover shadows to block passing lanes and when to shift across to condense the pitch to pin opponents in wide areas, where they have minimal time, space or viable options to progress.

With the defenders stationed high and ready to apply vigorous back-to-goal pressure when opponents drop deep and the midfielders often going man for man or stepping out when triggers arise like a pass into wide areas, they are masters at suffocating opponents and forcing turnovers.

Getting touchtight, maintaining compactness vertically and horizontally and typically man-orientated, it's been impressive to watch them stifle opposition build-up to make a plethora of regains in ideal areas to create quality chances against usually spread out foes.

Working hard for each other and so good at performing dual roles, such as when the striker screens the deepest midfielder while pressing the ball near the central defender or when the wingers press from out-to-in, how they've got the fundamentals spot-on consistently has served as a testament to Howe and his coaching staff's attention to detail.

Meanwhile, when defending in a mid or deep block (mostly in a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-5-1), the Magpies remain disciplined and connected to ensure they're difficult to puncture centrally. Adept at setting traps and adapting their structure and strategy depending on their opposition, this has been key towards them rarely being outfoxed.

In addition, if their adversaries prefer attacking wide or have a set piece, their towering, powerful defenders and the excellent Nick Pope in goal excel at clearing danger with their aerial prowess.

Upon analyzing their defensive numbers in the Premier League, it's admirable how well they stack up with the plethora of heavy hitters in the division, which can be seen in the Wyscout graphics below. The key takeaways come from how they rank joint-first for goals conceded, second for challenge intensity, third for XGA, fourth for aerial duels success, fifth for shots against per 90 and sixth for PPDA.

Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Goals Conceded
Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Challenge intensity
Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Expected Goals Against (xGA)
Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Successful Aerial Duels %
Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Shots against
Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Passes allowed Per Defensive Action (PPDA)

While they're a defensive machine, it's also notable what a proficient team they are going forward as well.

Boasting so much quality in wide areas in the form of Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin and Jacob Murphy, it's understandable they relish attacking down the flanks, where they get terrific support from their classy full-backs and number eights.

Getting the balance spot on, it's sensible how the free-flowing, masterful passer Kieran Trippier is usually instructed to bomb on, through underlaps and overlaps down the right, to get involved in advanced areas while left-back Dan Burn, who's far more defensive, usually stays deeper to provide coverage in this often asymmetrical framework.

The eights such as Joelinton, Joe Willock and Sean Longstaff also prove their worth by interchanging, forming overloads, facilitating third man combinations, marauding upfield in behind or down the channels and offering support if an attack needs to be reset.

These variations also have the added bonus of manipulating defensive units and placing doubt in the minds of defenders, which is often all Newcastle need to gain an edge.

All on the same page and usually well spaced, this helps them not only combine smartly to unlock backlines and use a dynamic advantage, but also to counterpress rapidly once possession is lost to quickly attack again.

The runs in behind from the likes of Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak are extremely important to stretch rearguards and give the ball holder a brilliant option. Furthermore, their presence is also crucial when Newcastle go long to beat the press or when providing an option when dropping deep between the lines, where midfield maestro Bruno Guimaraes has a particular knack of pinpointing them.

Making strides in their capacity to build out from the back, they do a neat job of inviting pressure before either going long and direct to the wingers or forward or bypassing the press by finding one of their midfielders.

Seeing as all their defenders are extremely composed and assured on the ball, this adds to their menace, for they are competent at exposing any weaknesses with their progressive distribution. Be it switching the play to isolate the wingers, launching through balls over the top, hitting the striker or breaking lines, they have a pass for just about any scenario.

Their outstanding set-pieces are another integral feature of their play, with their shrewd mechanics, in alliance with Trippier's silver service and the sheer volume of tall timber they have at their disposal, ensuring they're one of the elite teams in Europe in this regard.

Always doing their homework and working hard and meticulously to devise their incisive schemes, it's been a joy to watch them execute from dead-balls. Boasting quality short and normal routines, plus so adept at impeding keepers and using decoy runs and blockers, Howe and his coaches have outfoxed their opponents' setups time after time.

Statistically speaking, their offensive might is illustrated by the numbers that state they come in third for XG, fourth for touches inside the area p90, fifth for crosses p90 and sixth for shots p90.

Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Expected Goals (xG)
Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Touches Inside the Penalty Area
Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Crossing
Wyscout Rankings - Premier League: Shots

Exciting to watch and such a challenging proposition for any team to play against, this multifaceted Magpies outfit have unquestionably exceeded expectations to take the Premier League by storm this campaign.

Doing everything right on the training ground and on matchday while cultivating a fantastic environment for success, Howe deserves tremendous credit for his role in transforming Newcastle into one of the heavy hitters in the stacked division.

"The most important thing is the mentality of the players we brought in, they're top professionals, very, very good characters and they wanted to come for the right reasons: football and the challenge with our league position," Howe told Sky Sports.

"That was a really important thing for us, we didn't want to bring anyone in that destabilized the group or disrupted the excellent spirit we're building internally. I think we've done that."

Considering Howe took over with the Magpies winless, in a woeful state and mired in the relegation zone back in November of 2021, the turnaround since has been miraculous, with them now on the brink of Champions League qualification.

Although the financial muscle of their owners has helped, there's no denying what an outstanding job Howe has done in propelling them from cellar dwellers to one of the most dominant teams in England.

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