The January transfer window is officially open for business, with most eyes pointing in the direction of Newcastle United following their takeover by a Saudi consortium earlier this season.

The long-awaited transaction was approved by the Premier League in October after it received "legally binding assurances" that the club would not be controlled by the Saudi Arabian government.

The takeover saw the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) take an 80 per cent stake in the club, ending Mike Ashley's 14-year ownership.

Replacing Steve Bruce with Eddie Howe in the dugout was the first move by the new owners, but the apparent richest club in the world are expected to really flex their muscles in the transfer market over the next few years, likely beginning this month.

Head coach Howe has already indicated he intends to dip into the significant amounts of cash available in an attempt to keep the Magpies in the Premier League, and Stats Perform has taken a look at where that money might be best spent.

Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain)

In theory, the smartest thing for Newcastle to do would be to build for the future, so it may seem counter-intuitive to start by suggesting a 35-year-old, but the fact is they need results right now.

When trying to build stability, it almost always starts in goal where you must have a reliable figure to save the day when needed, but most importantly, to build confidence and reassurance through the spine of a team.

With all due respect to Karl Darlow and Martin Dubravka, Newcastle can do better, and with the position of the experienced Navas currently under threat in Paris thanks to the arrival of Gianluigi Donnarumma at the start of the season, this could be an opportunity to bring in a genuinely world-class option right now.

The Costa Rican was a near ever-present at PSG last season, making 45 appearances in all competitions, and boasted the best save percentage in Europe's top five leagues of goalkeepers who played at least 15 games (79.55).

Navas has still played 11 league games this season while Donnarumma is eased in, with his save percentage only slightly declining (77.27), and still comfortably ahead of Darlow (60.53) and Dubravka (58.33).

The former Real Madrid stopper would bring experience of succeeding at the top level, having won three Champions Leagues at the Santiago Bernabeu, and might consider it one last hurrah to be a regular at an ambitious Premier League project rather than staying put to watch from the bench at the Parc des Princes.

If Howe wants someone a bit younger, he could look at Sevilla's Yassine 'Bono' Bounou, who was second to Navas in save percentage last season (76.62) and has improved on that so far this campaign (78.26), with a significantly higher number of catches as well (18 to Navas' two), which suggests he might be more suited to the Premier League where crosses are more prevalent.

However, it is unlikely that Sevilla – who have the best defensive record in LaLiga this season – would countenance a move in January, and Bounou will be on Africa Cup of Nations duty for most of the next month with Morocco anyway, so would probably be one to revisit in the summer.

Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)

Slightly easier to predict this one, as the former Tottenham right-back has been heavily linked with a move to St James' Park in recent weeks.

Trippier is seen as an upgrade on Javier Manquillo, which on the face of it, might not be such an obvious assumption based on this season.

The England international is yet to register a goal or assist in 14 games in all competitions, while Manquillo has one goal and two assists in 12 games, although Trippier has created seven chances to Manquillo's four.

Trippier has a slightly superior pass completion percentage in the opposition half (72.89 to 68.18) but the Spaniard has the edge on duel success percentage (63.73 to 58.16) and dribble success rate (53.33 to 46.15).

Although Trippier may not have excelled in this campaign yet, his prior record in England counts in his favour, particularly his last season at Tottenham.

In 2018-19, he created 49 chances in 27 Premier League games, the third highest for defenders behind only Lucas Digne (71) and Andy Robertson (51), having played eight and nine games fewer than both respectively, and more than Trent Alexander-Arnold (48) having played two games fewer.

If Trippier can rediscover that creativity, he could give Howe an extra dimension, including the possibility to utilise wing-backs, where he has played on occasion for his country.

Sven Botman (Lille)

The Dutch centre-back was being linked with some of Europe's top clubs at the end of last season after winning Ligue 1 with Lille, but ultimately stayed at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

However, he has been a name closely mentioned with Newcastle in recent weeks, with rumours of a £30million price being placed on his head, but how does the 21-year-old compare to the Magpies' current options?

This season, Botman has a better duel success rate (68.49) than each of Jamaal Lascelles (64.13), Federico Fernandez (62.50) and Fabian Schar (45.90), as well as more successful long passes (50) than all three, which could provide the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron with more immediate service.

He has also conceded only five fouls, compared to 11 each from Lascelles and Schar, which should mean fewer dangerous set-pieces around the box to defend.

Botman would be someone who could come in and make an immediate impact given his experience at Lille, but would also be one for the future, and someone that Howe could potentially build his backline around for years to come.

Boubacar Kamara (Marseille)

Like most other players with a pulse, Kamara has been regularly linked with a move to the Premier League, with his current contract at the Stade Velodrome expiring at the end of the season.

Kamara is primarily a defensive midfielder and could be another option for Howe to shore up what is currently a rather jellified spine at Newcastle.

The 22-year-old compares favourably to Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey in most metrics, having scored the same number of goals (one), while creating more open-play chances than both (10), having a better duel success rate (55.56), and making more interceptions (16) and more recoveries (63).

Like Botman, Kamara is a player who could come in and be an immediate improvement, while also being someone for the long term.

Some Newcastle fans might think that a creative midfielder would be a better investment at this stage, in which case you could look at the likes of out-of-favour duo Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona) or Todd Cantwell (Norwich City), or even outside shouts like Ligue 1 pair Benjamin Bourigeaud (Rennes) or Teji Savanier (Montpellier).

Having plenty of steel in the midfield seems more important for Howe when trying to develop teams though, as seen when he spent the vast majority of his budget at Bournemouth on signing Jefferson Lerma from Levante in 2018.

Ben Brereton Diaz (Blackburn Rovers)

Although starting to rebuild Newcastle should definitely start with Howe putting in a strong base, one area he simply has to address in January is up top, especially with Callum Wilson facing a spell on the sidelines with a calf injury.

Only Wilson (six) and Saint-Maximin (four) have scored more than once in the league for Newcastle this season, and Howe needs someone else to call upon who can find the net on a regular basis, which is something Brereton Diaz has been doing, especially after deciding to become Chilean.

The 22-year-old has been in ruthless form for Blackburn this season, bagging 20 goals in 24 Championship games for Tony Mowbray's side, putting him second only to former Newcastle forward Aleksandar Mitrovic (22 goals for Fulham).

It is a remarkable improvement for the Stoke-born striker, who only managed 17 goals in 133 Championship appearances prior to this season but has exploded since becoming a Chile international, even representing the country of his mother's birth at last year's Copa America.

He is a player who looks ready for the next level, while also potentially being in a position where he will be happy to rotate with Wilson once he returns.

Plus, Newcastle have had decent success in buying strikers from Blackburn in the past.

The important thing for Newcastle is to not run before they can walk. There has been a noticeable improvement in performances if not results since Howe arrived, but getting from where they are to where they want to be is certainly not going to happen overnight.

Using their newfound wealth to build slowly and sensibly should ensure that whatever happens down the line, they can at least put the foundations in for sustained success rather than going for the biggest and flashiest names right away.

Staying in the Premier League is the primary goal for the remainder of this season, then at the end of the campaign they can perhaps look to progress to the next level.

Then again, if they can sign Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe then frankly, have at it lads.

After a grand total of one day without Premier League football, the action returned on Saturday and there was a change at the top of the Premier League.

That's right, Chelsea slipped up again and handed the initiative to Manchester City and Liverpool, both of whom were victorious later in the day.

There was also a change at the bottom as Newcastle United left the foot of the table – at least until Sunday – meaning there are three sides all on 10 points in the relegation places.

Without any further ado, let's look at the best of the day's action with a pick of Opta's post-match facts…

West Ham 3-2 Chelsea: Blues dealt Hammer blow

Chelsea are off the Premier League summit as a result of their defeat at London rivals West Ham, who continue to confound doubters under David Moyes.

They found themselves behind at the break but came on stronger in the second half, becoming the first team to beat Chelsea after the Blues had been leading at half-time since Wolves in December 2018 – that was a run of 48 games unbeaten when ahead at the halfway mark of a game.

Further to that, it was only the third time in Thomas Tuchel's 53 games in charge that Chelsea have conceded more than one goal in a game.

One of West Ham's goalscorers surely felt confident – after all, Manuel Lanzini's goal was his 11th in London derbies, or 48 per cent of his Premier League total (23), the highest ratio of any player in the competition's history with at least 20 goals scored.

There was also a first to celebrate. Arthur Masuaku opened his West Ham account in his 96th match, with the left-back's momentous goal also proving to be the winner.

The win moved West Ham to within six points of their visitors, with the Hammers fourth.

Watford 1-3 Manchester City: Hornets are cannon fodder

Even if Pep Guardiola's City did not arrive in fine form, few would have given Watford a chance here – and the match went just as most were expecting.

Watford's record against City was woeful at best already – now they've conceded 41 goals in 13 meetings with them in the Premier League, the most they have let in against any single side in the competition.

Similarly, the 3.2 goals per game they concede on average in this fixture is the most by one side against another among all Premier League fixtures played at least 10 times.

That one-sided nature also reflects on Guardiola, who has won all 10 of his managerial games against Watford in all competitions by an aggregate score of 42-4, his best 100 per cent winning record over any side.

City are now unbeaten across their past 19 meetings with Watford (W17 D2, all competitions), netting 62 goals in this run – they've only ever had a longer unbeaten run once before against a specific team (22 games against Norwich from 1965-1981).

Wolves 0-1 Liverpool: Origi comes up trumps as Reds steal it at the death… again

It wasn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but Liverpool got the job done to move above Chelsea and stay just a point behind new leaders City.

Only just, though.

Divock Origi spared Jurgen Klopp's blushes with a stoppage-time winner, the Belgian continuing his habit of being a decisive and useful option off the bench.

That was his 10th goal as a substitute in the Premier League for the Reds, a club record.

Liverpool have now scored the winning goal after the 90th minute on 39 occasions in the Premier League, at least 13 more than any other team.

There was also good news for Mohamed Salah – he didn't score, but his assist for Origi's winner ensured he's been involved in a goal in each of his last 13 top-flight appearances, a record only Jamie Vardy (15) has ever surpassed.

Newcastle United 1-0 Burnley: Howe's about that?

At long last, every team in this season's Premier League now has at least a one in the wins column – Newcastle defeated Burnley at St James' Park to finally get off the mark.

Newcastle had not won any of their previous 15 matches in all competitions, losing seven and drawing the other eight.

Additionally, it was only their second clean sheet of the season, the other also coincidentally coming against Burnley in the EFL Cup back in August.

Of course it was also Eddie Howe's first win since being appointed by the club, with Callum Wilson – who also played under the manager at Bournemouth – delivering the goods.

It was Wilson's 43rd Premier League goal for Howe, a record only Joshua King (48) has bettered for him.

While it remains to be see if Howe is able to keep Newcastle up, there's no doubt he's got them playing on the front foot more, as they are averaging 15 shots (five on target) each game compared to 11 (three) prior to his arrival in 2021-22.

Southampton 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Saints give it up

Just when Southampton thought they had the points in the bag, Brighton pulled it back.

Brighton were down to 10 men, having had Leandro Trossard taken off injured after using all their substitutes, but Neal Maupay struck deep into stoppage time to seal a draw.

That was Brighton's fourth (of eight) away Premier League goal to have been scored in the 89th minute or later this term, and the third netted by Maupay.

Brighton remain winless in 10 league games, their longest top-flight run since 1983, but they celebrated it like a win – for Southampton, it felt like a defeat.

Saints have now dropped 71 points from winning positions in the league under Ralph Hasenhuttl, 15 more than any other team since his December 2018 appointment.

Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli were on target as Arsenal edged past Newcastle United 2-0 in Saturday's Premier League clash.

Mikel Arteta's side saw their eight-game unbeaten league run end at Liverpool last weekend, while Newcastle, with Eddie Howe in the dugout for the first time, were the only winless team in England's top four tiers after 12 games.

Jonjo Shelvey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both struck the woodwork in the first half at Emirates Stadium before Saka eventually broke the deadlock after 56 minutes.

Substitute Martinelli added a second just 93 seconds after his introduction as Arsenal moved level on points with fourth-placed West Ham, who play Manchester City on Sunday.

Saka poked narrowly wide and Martin Dubravka excellently parried away Martin Odegaard's free-kick as the hosts looked to score first for the 17th consecutive top-flight meeting with Newcastle.

Aaron Ramsdale then pushed Shelvey's long-range attempt onto the crossbar before Aubameyang inexplicably hit the right-hand post from point-blank range following Emile Smith Rowe's saved header.

Saka's low drive was denied by Dubravka after the interval, though there was no stopping the 20-year-old when he drilled into the bottom-right corner after Nuno Tavares' offload.

Martinelli, who replaced Saka, doubled the damage 10 minutes later with a volley past the incoming Dubravka from Takehiro Tomiyasu's chipped pass.

Substitute Jacob Murphy looked to respond but prodded wide as Arsenal continued their 22-game unbeaten run against sides starting the day bottom of the table.

What does it mean? Gunners see off Magpies again

Arsenal attempted the second most first-half shots in the Premier League this term without scoring (12), behind only Manchester United against Aston Villa (15), but were made to wait for their breakthrough.

When that eventually came, it appeared a straightforward task for Arteta's side, who collected their 17th win in 18 top-flight meetings with Newcastle to move level on points with fourth-placed West Ham at least temporarily.

Lovely Lokonga

Albert Sambi Lokonga was the key to keeping Arsenal's creativity through the middle as he proved to dominate the midfield battle against Shelvey and former Gunners midfielder Joe Willock. 

The ex-Anderlecht man was unlucky to not assist Saka in the first half with an incisive deep cross, one of a game-high six key passes – one more than the whole Newcastle team combined.

Nu-no need to shoot

Tavares delivered an underwhelming performance in the 4-0 crushing at Liverpool, but still retained his spot ahead of Kieran Tierney at left-back.

The 21-year-old enjoyed a lot of room down the left flank but was incredibly wasteful, blasting a game-leading six attempts from seemingly any angle with none of those finding the target.

What's next?

Arsenal travel to Manchester United on Thursday, while Newcastle will continue searching for their first win when they host fellow strugglers Norwich City on Tuesday.

Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli were on target as Arsenal edged past Newcastle United 2-0 in Saturday's Premier League clash.

Mikel Arteta's side saw their eight-game unbeaten league run end at Liverpool last weekend, while Newcastle, with Eddie Howe in the dugout for the first time, were the only winless team in England's top four tiers after 12 games.

Jonjo Shelvey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both struck the woodwork in the first half at Emirates Stadium before Saka eventually broke the deadlock after 56 minutes.

Substitute Martinelli added a second just 93 seconds after his introduction as Arsenal moved level on points with fourth-placed West Ham, who play Manchester City on Sunday.

Saka poked narrowly wide and Martin Dubravka excellently parried away Martin Odegaard's free-kick as the hosts looked to score first for the 17th consecutive top-flight meeting with Newcastle.

Aaron Ramsdale then pushed Shelvey's long-range attempt onto the crossbar before Aubameyang inexplicably hit the right-hand post from point-blank range following Emile Smith Rowe's saved header.

Saka's low drive was denied by Dubravka after the interval, though there was no stopping the 20-year-old when he drilled into the bottom-right corner after Nuno Tavares' offload.

Martinelli, who replaced Saka, doubled the damage 10 minutes later with a volley past the incoming Dubravka from Takehiro Tomiyasu's chipped pass.

Substitute Jacob Murphy looked to respond but prodded wide as Arsenal continued their 22-game unbeaten run against sides starting the day bottom of the table.

Eddie Howe is set for his first Newcastle United game in the dugout after returning a negative COVID-19 test before the trip to Arsenal.

Former Bournemouth manager Howe was named Newcastle's new head coach on November 8, the first appointment by the Magpies following the club's Saudi-backed takeover.

However, Howe was forced to isolate after returning a positive coronavirus test, leaving Newcastle without their manager on the sideline for the first Premier League game of his tenure at home to Brentford.

Jason Tindall, Howe's assistant manager, and Graeme Jones, the previous interim coach after Steve Bruce's dismissal, led the team in that 3-3 draw, but Newcastle have confirmed Howe will be on the touchline at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Asked about Howe's return, Tindall told reporters on Friday: "You want your manager here with you. 

"We've missed him as a group of staff and I'm sure the players have missed seeing him at the training ground. We're certainly looking forward to having him back.

"Eddie has seen training back every day. We film it and that will then be sent to him in the afternoon to review it back, as will we as coaches. Then we will feed back what's necessary to the players the following day."

 Newcastle sit bottom of the league as the only side still without a win across England's top four tiers – their current winless run of 12 top-flight games is their longest since a run of 13 between December 2007 and March 2008.

No side have conceded more than Howe's new team in the Premier League this season (27), while the Magpies have lost 16 of their last 17 Premier League meetings with Arsenal.

Eddie Howe will be absent as his Newcastle United tenure begins on Saturday after testing positive for coronavirus.

Former Bournemouth manager Howe was named Newcastle's new head coach at the start of the international break, the first appointment at St James' Park since the club's lucrative Saudi-backed takeover.

After two weeks on the training pitch, attention has turned to the visit of Brentford in the Premier League on Saturday as Newcastle aim to end their club-record 11-game winless start.

But the Magpies will be without Howe in the dugout as he has been forced to isolate having returned a positive COVID-19 test.

Jason Tindall, Howe's assistant and successor at Bournemouth, and Graeme Jones, the interim coach between Steve Bruce's sacking and the new man's arrival, will lead the team against Brentford.

"I'm very disappointed that I won't be there with you all at St James' Park tomorrow," Howe said in a message to fans. "But it is incredibly important that I follow the guidelines and self-isolate.

"I'd like to reassure everyone that I feel fine, and while this is unwelcome news for me, I know it hasn't derailed our preparations for what is an important game.

"I have been, and will be, in constant communication with my coaching team and the players, both tomorrow and during the week, and I know they will be giving everything on and off the pitch."

After two weeks on the training ground, Eddie Howe returns to the Premier League arena as head coach of Newcastle United on Saturday.

Now working for Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the world's richest football club owner, Howe needs results fast with Newcastle second from bottom and five points from safety.

Indeed, the Magpies have endured the worst start to a league season in their history after a 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion prior to the international break extended their winless run to 11 matches.

For all the talk of exciting January moves for Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele or Marc-Andre ter Stegen – Barcelona's expensively assembled squad, reports say, is ripe for picking – there is a job to do first, and that starts at home to Brentford.

Burnley and Norwich City, the previous two teams to break winless starts before Newcastle, got their first victories against Brentford, yet just one of the Magpies' past eight bosses has won his first Premier League match in charge of the club (Alan Pardew versus Liverpool in 2010).

Has Howe, who rescued Bournemouth from relegation out of the Football League and took them all the way to the top flight, already had an impact on Tyneside?

Saturday's encounter at St James' Park should tell us plenty – and these are the key themes to look out for...

Fix the defence

The biggest worry around both Newcastle and Howe relates to their defensive records.

Only Norwich (26) have conceded more goals than Newcastle (24) this season, while the Magpies' opponents have had a league-high 21.6 expected goals. That back line clearly needs attention.

But Howe's Bournemouth conceded at least 61 goals in each of their five seasons in the top flight, making him far from an obvious candidate to address Newcastle's biggest need.

There is a lack of quality options within that defence, but Graeme Jones, the interim coach who has taken a role on Howe's staff, attempted to stem the tide during his short reign as the main man.

At odds with the more aggressive pressing approach Howe is likely to adopt, Jones' side sat deep. Across games against Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Brighton, Newcastle had the highest PPDA (an incredibly passive 22.6 opposition passes per defensive action) and the second-deepest average starting position (just 37.5 metres from their own goal) in the league. The Magpies still conceded five times and earned only two points.

Regardless of what changes Howe makes at the back – and there have to be changes – those in front also require greater co-ordination.

In Sean Longstaff (52.9), Joe Willock (49.9) and Miguel Almiron (49.7), Newcastle have players who rank first, fifth and sixth among central midfielders for pressures per 90 minutes this season. Their haphazard pressing, lacking any clear cohesion, has succeeded only in leaving gaps behind them, however.

Neither Longstaff nor Willock featured at Brighton, while Almiron played on the right flank and was taken off after 74 minutes.

Keep the ball

The pressure on Newcastle's defence would be relieved by an ability to keep the ball for any extended period. Their average possession of 37.3 per cent is comfortably the lowest in the division this season.

But that is nothing new; Newcastle have ranked in the bottom three in this regard in each season since they were promoted in 2017.

"We hopefully have nudged it along a little bit this week," Jones said before the Brighton game, where Newcastle had just 34.1 per cent of the ball. "You can't go from how we played against Chelsea and Crystal Palace to being Barcelona overnight. It's impossible, so it needs to be small steps."

Howe, Newcastle will hope, should be able to help with those steps. Since Bournemouth were first promoted, only Leeds United last season (57.8 per cent) have averaged more possession in their first year in the Premier League than the Cherries in 2015-16 (51.1 per cent).

Although Bournemouth's possession figures then dropped with each campaign until they were relegated with 43.4 per cent of the ball, Howe has the opportunity to make a strong start against a Brentford side who rank 15th in the division for possession (44.9 per cent).

Feed the forwards

Having more possession should fit hand in hand with getting Newcastle's dangerous attacking players on the ball more often. Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin have too often been isolated.

"We have been a lot further from the goal than we'd like to be," Wilson told Chronicle Live this week.

The certainty of a full-time appointment should at least allow Newcastle to settle on a system that suits both players after drastically shifting their approach following each miserable run of Steve Bruce's tenure. Tactical flexibility, as Howe should show, is one thing, having no proven plan to fall back on is another. At Bournemouth, that was some variation on a 4-4-2.

Even with Newcastle struggling, Wilson has managed to score 16 goals since the start of last season. Among the 14 players to net 15 or more in that time, only Mohamed Salah (127), Harry Kane (163) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (164) have averaged fewer minutes per goal than the Magpies' number nine (167).

"A fit Callum Wilson is as good as anybody in the Premier League," Jones said.

Of course, Howe has experience with Wilson and with Ryan Fraser, both of whom he brought to Bournemouth.

Under Howe in 2018-19, Wilson and Fraser combined for 12 Premier League goals – at that time, the second most of any duo in the competition's history in a single season, behind Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton (13 in 1995-96).

Wilson added: "I am exactly the same as the manager coming in – he's got this attacking style of play. As a striker, you are licking your lips knowing you are going to get more opportunities."

If Howe can help the ex-Bournemouth pair reprise that form and build some sort of platform behind them, Newcastle should yet have enough to survive – perhaps boosted by a winning start against Brentford.

Eddie Howe acknowledges the thought of spending Newcastle United's riches in January is "exciting" but his immediate focus is on getting the best out of the club's existing playing squad.

Newcastle were taken over last month by a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which became the richest football club owner in the world.

New director Amanda Staveley has spoken of targeting a Premier League title win in the next five to 10 years, with heavy investment expected to transform the team.

A host of high-profile players have been linked, including Barcelona trio Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

But Newcastle have nine Premier League fixtures to negotiate before the transfer window opens at the start of 2022 and sit five points adrift of safety in 19th place.

Howe was appointed as head coach this week but takes charge of a team winless in 11 this term, Newcastle's worst start to a league season in their history.

The four most recent examples of teams going 11 or more without a win in the Premier League ended in relegation, meaning Howe cannot afford to wait for new signings.

"That is exciting, but it's potentially far away for us," Howe told Sky Sports.

"January windows? I'm not sure, they're very unpredictable. Even to plan now is sometimes foolish, because things change at other clubs very, very quickly; players that may be available suddenly aren't available.

"We can't put our eggs in that basket, for me. If we don't get the players who are currently at this football club performing as well as they can do, it's not going to work.

"At the moment, I'm not looking at the January transfer window. All the speculation regarding players, which I've seen, is not relevant to us at this time.

"I can assure everybody my focus has been on the players we do have and will remain on the players we do have, because they're the ones that will ultimately be trying to get results for us between then and now."

One of the current Newcastle players of immediate interest to Howe is Allan Saint-Maximin, the team's talismanic winger who enjoyed a close relationship with previous coach Steve Bruce.

After two goals and three assists in his first six league games this season, Saint-Maximin is without a goal involvement in five matches – including four since the takeover was completed and three since Bruce was sacked.

Howe knows all about the player's ability, though. As Bournemouth manager, he provided the opposition for the only game in Saint-Maximin's career in which he has supplied three assists, back in July 2020 in a 4-1 Newcastle win.

"I'm really, really pleased to be working with Maxi," Howe said. "I think he's a very, very unique talent. He's a game-winner, a real difference-maker for us.

"First of all, we have to find a way to function as a team to get the best out of him. But he has to also contribute to the team – the two things go hand in hand.

"I'm really excited to try to figure out ways to play to his best levels, and his response in the two days [of training] has been excellent."

New Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe insisted joining the club was "a football decision" as he faced questions over the human rights record of Saudi Arabia.

A consortium that included Saudi Arabia's public wealth fund took control of Newcastle in a reported £305million deal, which was approved by the Premier League last month.

The takeover has been met with criticism from some supporters due to Saudi Arabia's human rights record, but new Magpies manager Howe was reluctant to debate the topic.

Ex-Bournemouth boss Howe maintained that he was only focused on football and the stature of the Tyneside club when he decided to take the job.

"Naturally, this is a football decision," Howe said at his official unveiling. "I'm absolutely delighted to be the manager of Newcastle. 

"My focus is football. Running the team, managing the players. That's all I'm going to talk about and that's all I'm going to think about.

"Everything just felt right. The pull of the club is huge, the size of the club, the history of the club. Obviously the new, ambitious plans, the new owners, knowing some of the players, the squad.

"I just thought it was a perfect fit for me. Yes, I've had lots of other options, but I wanted to take my time and really be utilising my time away from the game. I feel refreshed, energised and ready to start work."

Newcastle are 19th in the Premier League after 11 games and are the only team in the division still yet to win a match, managing just five points so far.

The club are five points from safety and, despite the grand ambitions of long-term success, Howe insists that avoiding the drop this season is both his, and the owners', primary focus.

"[The owners and I have] had some really good conversations," Howe continued. 

"I've been very, very impressed by their vision of the club but, to be honest, I haven't delved into that too much because it's all about the short term.

"Obviously the position of the team, we need to try and address that very quickly, move up the league and the aim is to stay in the league, to avoid relegation.

"That's what I'll be working towards and that's really my main focus at the moment, everything else can wait for another day."

Despite the club's precarious position in the table, Howe remained positive about Newcastle's chances of survival under his guidance - but stopped short of making any guarantees.

"I'm absolutely confident that we can [avoid relegation], but I make no promises on that," Howe added. "All I can do is lead the club to the best of my abilities.

"I'll give everything to the job, I'll commit 100 per cent every single day to try and bring success to Newcastle for everybody connected with the club.

"I believe we have the ability within the squad, with the players, to achieve that aim, but it's going to take a lot of hard work.

"It's going to take a lot of sacrifice, suffering, in terms of the players giving everything that they have to try and commit to the objective that we need."

Liverpool have confirmed sporting director Michael Edwards will leave his role after the expiration of his contract.

A club statement said Edwards had given notice to Liverpool's ownership that he wished to take up a new challenge after his deal ends, which is at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Julian Ward, who is the assistant sporting director, will be promoted following Edwards' departure.

Edwards, 42, joined Liverpool in 2011 as head of analytics, and was then promoted to director of technical performance.

Another promotion, to technical director, followed, before he took up the role of sporting director in November 2016.

While in the role, Edwards has overseen a hugely successful spell for the Reds, with Jurgen Klopp's side winning the 2018-19 Champions League and 2019-20 Premier League, as well as the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

"To be part of this club during this period has been a privilege due to the people I have been fortunate enough to work with and the success we have enjoyed," Edwards said.

"I had always planned to cap my time at the club to a max of 10 years. I've loved working here, but I am a big believer in change. I think it's good for the individual and, in a work setting, good for the employer, too."

In his presentation as Newcastle United's head coach on Tuesday, Eddie Howe was asked if he knew anything of Edwards possibly joining the Magpies.

Newcastle are looking for a sporting or football director following their Saudi-backed takeover. Michael Emenalo, the former sporting director of Chelsea and Monaco, has also been linked.

"As far as I know, absolutely not, no. I know nothing about Michael Edwards' future," Howe said.

"He's someone that I hugely respect in the game and in what he does and what he's done for Liverpool. My main focus since coming to Newcastle has been on the players that are in the team, not focused on January, not focused on anything outside of what influences the team."

Newcastle United have ended their search for a new head coach by appointing Eddie Howe on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Graeme Jones had been in temporary charge of the Magpies since Steve Bruce departed by mutual consent following a takeover that saw Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund take an 80 per cent share in the club, becoming the richest owner in world football.

Brendan Rodgers, Paulo Fonseca, Lucien Favre and Roberto Martinez were linked with role before Villarreal coach Unai Emery snubbed the Premier League strugglers.

Instead, former Bournemouth manager Howe was on Monday confirmed as Bruce's successor after he watched on from the stands as Newcastle drew 1-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Howe has been out of work since leaving Bournemouth in August 2020 following their relegation to the Championship.

The 43-year-old worked wonders during two spells in charge of the Cherries, masterminding an astonishing rise from League Two to the top flight, and reportedly turned Celtic down before Ange Postecoglou took the hotseat with the Glasgow giants.

Across his time with Bournemouth and a stint in between at Burnley, Howe has overseen 545 career games as a coach, winning 228 of them.

In the Premier League, he won 56 of 190 matches, with his best season seeing Bournemouth earn 46 points and finish ninth in 2016-17.

The excitement around Newcastle United's lucrative takeover has died down, with the world's richest football club now facing a relegation scrap.

Newcastle have endured the worst start to a league season in their history after Saturday's 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion extended their winless run to 11 matches.

Second from bottom and five points from safety, talk of January moves for Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele or Marc-Andre ter Stegen – Barcelona's expensively assembled squad, reports say, is ripe for picking – must wait.

Expectations have also been tempered in the coaching arena. Antonio Conte, Erik ten Hag and Unai Emery were all mooted targets; Emery even held talks with Newcastle's owners. Instead, Eddie Howe is the man in charge.

Howe, whose arrival at St James' Park on a contract until the end of 2023-24 was confirmed on Monday, is a highly respected coach but was last employed by Bournemouth in 2020, at the wheel as they were relegated from the Premier League.

Crucially, though, Howe also knows a thing or two about beating the drop. He kept Bournemouth in the top flight for four seasons before that fateful final campaign and had rescued the club from demotion out of the Football League more than 10 years earlier.

The 43-year-old will expect financial help in the transfer window, but Newcastle first have several areas of concern to address if they are to reach January still in touch.

Fix the defence

The biggest worry around both Newcastle and Howe relates to their defensive records.

Only Norwich City (26) have conceded more goals than Newcastle (24) this season, while the Magpies' opponents have had a league-high 21.6 expected goals. That back line clearly needs attention.

But Howe's Bournemouth conceded at least 61 goals in each of their five seasons in the top flight, making him far from an obvious candidate to address Newcastle's biggest need.

There is a lack of quality options within that defence, but Graeme Jones, the interim coach who has taken a role on Howe's staff, has attempted to stem the tide during his short reign as the main man.

At odds with the more aggressive pressing approach Howe is likely to adopt, Jones' side sat deep. Across games against Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Brighton, Newcastle had the highest PPDA (an incredibly passive 22.6 opposition passes per defensive action) and the second-deepest average starting position (just 37.5 metres from their own goal) in the league. The Magpies still conceded five times and earned only two points.

Regardless of what changes Howe makes at the back – and there have to be changes – those in front also require greater co-ordination.

In Sean Longstaff (52.9), Joe Willock (49.9) and Miguel Almiron (49.7), Newcastle have players who rank first, fifth and sixth among central midfielders for pressures per 90 minutes this season. Their haphazard pressing, lacking any clear cohesion, has succeeded only in leaving gaps behind them, however.

Neither Longstaff nor Willock featured at Brighton, while Almiron played on the right flank and was taken off after 74 minutes.

Keep the ball

The pressure on Newcastle's defence would be relieved by an ability to keep the ball for any extended period. Their average possession of 37.3 per cent is comfortably the lowest in the division this season.

But that is nothing new; Newcastle have ranked in the bottom three in this regard in each season since they were promoted in 2017.

"We hopefully have nudged it along a little bit this week," Jones said before the Brighton game, where Newcastle had just 34.1 per cent of the ball. "You can't go from how we played against Chelsea and Crystal Palace to being Barcelona overnight. It's impossible, so it needs to be small steps."

Howe, Newcastle will hope, should be able to help with those steps. Since Bournemouth were first promoted, only Leeds United last season (57.8 per cent) have averaged more possession in their first year in the Premier League than the Cherries in 2015-16 (51.1 per cent).

Concerningly, though, having held steady into a second season, Bournemouth's possession figures then dropped with each campaign until they were relegated with 43.4 per cent of the ball.

Howe will have to enact serious change and this time maintain those standards over a longer period.

Feed the forwards

Having more possession should fit hand in hand with getting Newcastle's dangerous attacking players on the ball more often. Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin have too often been isolated.

The certainty of a full-time appointment should at least allow Newcastle to settle on a system that suits both players after drastically shifting their approach following each miserable run of Steve Bruce's tenure. Tactical flexibility, as Howe should show, is one thing, having no proven plan to fall back on is another.

Even with Newcastle struggling, Wilson has managed to score 16 goals since the start of last season. Among the 14 players to net 15 or more in that time, only Mohamed Salah (127), Harry Kane (163) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (164) have averaged fewer minutes per goal than the Magpies' number nine (167).

"A fit Callum Wilson is as good as anybody in the Premier League," Jones says.

Of course, Howe has experience with Wilson and with Ryan Fraser, both of whom he brought to Bournemouth.

Under Howe in 2018-19, Wilson and Fraser combined for 12 Premier League goals – at that time, the second-most of any duo in the competition's history in a single season, behind Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton (13 in 1995-96).

If Howe can help the pair reprise that form and build some sort of platform behind them, Newcastle should yet have enough to survive.

Newcastle United have ended their search for a new head coach by appointing Eddie Howe on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Graeme Jones had been in temporary charge of the Magpies since Steve Bruce departed by mutual consent following a takeover that saw Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund take an 80 per cent share in the club, becoming the richest owner in world football.

Brendan Rodgers, Paulo Fonseca, Lucien Favre and Roberto Martinez were linked with role before Villarreal coach Unai Emery snubbed the Premier League strugglers.

Instead, former Bournemouth manager Howe was on Monday confirmed as Bruce's successor after he watched on from the stands as Newcastle drew 1-1 at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Howe has been out of work since leaving Bournemouth in August 2020 following their relegation to the Championship.

The 43-year-old worked wonders during two spells in charge of the Cherries, masterminding an astonishing rise from League Two to the top flight, and reportedly turned Celtic down before Ange Postecoglou took the hotseat with the Glasgow giants.

Across his time with Bournemouth and a stint in between at Burnley, Howe has overseen 545 career games as a coach, winning 228 of them.

In the Premier League, he won 56 of 190 matches, with his best season seeing Bournemouth earn 46 points and finish ninth in 2016-17.

Newcastle United manager-in-waiting Eddie Howe was in the stands to see the Magpies' winless start extended to 11 Premier League matches at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Isaac Hayden rescued a point for Newcastle in a 1-1 draw, enough to lift the visitors off the foot of the table. Norwich City's earlier win over Brentford had seen Newcastle briefly replace them at the bottom of the pile.

Newcastle trailed to a contentious first-half Leandro Trossard penalty but might have taken all three points, as Brighton finished the game with 10 men after goalkeeper Robert Sanchez took down Callum Wilson in front of an open goal.

The failure to make the most of playing against 10 men – with defender Lewis Dunk in goal – made this Newcastle's worst ever start to a league season.

Only twice previously in their history had Newcastle gone 10 without a win at the start of a campaign, winning their 11th matches in both 1898-99 (3-0 versus Liverpool) and 2018-19 (1-0 versus Watford). They avoided relegation on both occasions.

But this club-record sequence of 11 without a win does not bode well for Newcastle, given each of the most recent four Premier League sides to reach that unwanted mark – Norwich (13 games without a win, 2004-05), QPR (16, 2012-13), Watford (11, 2019-20) and Sheffield United (17, 2020-21) – went down.

This is now Newcastle's longest stretch without a league win at any stage in a season since a run of 13 between December 2007 and March 2008. After Norwich's victory, they are the last winless team in this season's top flight.

Former Bournemouth boss Howe, who watched the Brighton game alongside Newcastle director Amanda Staveley, is set to be confirmed as the club's new manager imminently.

His first game, after the international break, will see Newcastle host Brentford at St James' Park on November 20.

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