Soccer: Promoted clubs need more goals to stay up
By Steve Tongue
(Reuters) - The evidence of a weekend when promoted Newcastle United, Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town found the net once between them is that the crucial matter of goalscoring may decide whether any of the trio avoid relegation this season.
Rarely in the Premier League era have all three promoted clubs avoided dropping back down to the second tier.
Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers did it in 2000-01 and Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City and Swansea City survived 10 years later.
Almost 50 percent, however, go straight back down.
For that reason, if no other, Brighton, Huddersfield and even last season's second-tier champions Newcastle featured strongly among the teams tipped for an immediate return after coming up to the Premier League last May.
In the first few weeks, both Newcastle and Huddersfield reached unexpected heights of the top four, but they have begun dropping away since.
Brighton on the other hand started slowly before successive home wins, including Sunday's 1-0 success against Newcastle, lifted them towards the middle of the table.
Goalscoring, however, could decide the fate of all three clubs.
In the opening half-dozen games, Huddersfield and Brighton have totalled five goals each, Newcastle six.
Sunday's pair were prolific enough last season. Rafa Benitez's Newcastle hit 85 in their 46 matches, 23 of them by striker Dwight Gayle.
Yet he has not scored this season and had already found the Premier League testing with former club Crystal Palace, for whom his record was roughly a goal every four appearances.
The volatile Aleksandar Mitrovic has an almost identical record in the black and white stripes and has already picked up a retrospective three-match ban this season for an elbowing incident missed by the referee.
So Benitez needs goals from his close-season signings Joselu from Stoke City and Christian Atsu (Chelsea), who have one each so far.
Brighton's Tomer Hemed, the matchwinner on Sunday, could face a similar ban to Mitrovic if the Football Association decide his apparent stamp on Newcastle's DeAndre Yedlin towards the end of the game was deliberate.
The south coast club cannot afford to lose him, especially at a time when last season's top scorer Glenn Murray, 34 this week, is injured.
They will be counting on Pascal Gross, the German signed from FC Ingolstadt, whose two goals in the 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion included the club's first at the top level since 1983.
Huddersfield also received an early repayment on a new signing, when Benin striker Steve Mounie scored a double in the opening game away to Crystal Palace.
Town's 3-0 win, while still impressive, looks a little less stunning now that Palace have lost every subsequent match as well, without scoring a goal and Huddersfield have managed one in their last four games.
Things are not about to get easier for the promoted trio either. Their next opponents are Tottenham for Huddersfield, Liverpool for Newcastle and a trip to Arsenal for Brighton.
(Editing by Toby Davis)