Tuesday night, around 9pm, things weren’t looking good for Newcastle United.
Manchester United were leading 2-1 at St James Park with Newcastle struggling to make any impression, as the visitors appeared confident of seeing the game out with their defence back in shape and dangerous on the break.
For the umpteenth time I checked my phone and Bournemouth still led West Ham 1-0, with around 25 minutes to go this was looking ominous (Villa also leading 1-0 v Palace).
The next night (Wednesday), Swansea would host Sunderland and a home win there, plus other results going against us, would have left the Premier League table looking like this below….(points before each team)
How the Premier League would have looked if everything had gone wrong…
26 West Brom
11 Aston Villa
The signings of Saivet and Shelvey are very welcome but with only 17 matches to go, being five points off safety and then seven points off the fifth bottom team…that would be a big ask for Newcastle.
However, next moment the ball comes in and Mitrovic is on the floor a second later, not more histrionics as we’ve seen in previous games…..but no, unbelievably Newcastle get their first penalty in thirteen months (very ironically, that was also against Man Utd – Cisse in a 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford).
Mitrovic himself steps up after Chris Smalling has released him from his grip, 2-2!
I instantly look at my phone and the stars are coming in line, West Ham have also equalised!!
When I later check, both Mitrovic and Payet scored their goals in the 67th minute of each match.
The rest is history, Newcastle end a topsy turvy thrilling game 3-3 and Bournemouth collapse to a 3-3 defeat.
Wednesday night, Sunderland stuff Swansea 4-2 due to a massive slice of luck (if you accept Swansea losing was the better option…), due largely to a dodgy sending off for Kyle Naughton early in the game.
Defeat for Norwich last night and a draw between Chelsea and West Brom have left the Premier League now looking like this instead…
Premier League table 14 January 2016
27 West Brom
11 Aston Villa
The situation is still grim but at least salvation is in Newcastle United’s own hands, rather than how it looked with 66 minutes gone of the Newcastle and Bournemouth games.
Realistically it looks Villa plus any two from Newcastle, Sunderland, Swansea, Bournemouth and Norwich. If there hadn’t been that change in fortunes on Tuesday night then deep down I think we were looking at any two from Newcastle, Sunderland and Swansea – not great odds.
With Bournemouth v Norwich on Saturday, that is a massive game which could/should see one of them taking a big step away from the likelihood of relegation.
Ironically, it is in-form West Ham who come to Tyneside on Saturday, four wins in a row and in fifth place, they might have lost Andy Carroll to injury but the excellent Dimitri Payet is back pulling the strings – the player who was key in the Hammers dominating and beating Newcastle at Upton Park earlier this season.
There undoubtedly will be more twists and turns in the relegation fight but those 60 seconds on Tuesday night could be a real turning point in Newcastle’s season.
Two new signings walking into that scenario of five points off safety could have been a killer but instead they arrive at a time of that spirited fightback against Manchester United and potentially making their debuts in a game that could see Newcastle United lifted out of the relegation zone.
Let’s do it.
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