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One from three good, two from three bad…

5 years ago

The relegation fight is hotting up, Aston Villa are well gone but three other clubs are set to fight it out for the other two places.

This is where it gets sticky…Swansea and Palace are nine points ahead of Newcastle and eight points ahead of Norwich and Sunderland, even a handful of points in their remaining matches will surely make them safe.

So it comes down to, almost certainly, just one of Newcastle United, Sunderland and Norwich surviving.

It had been brewing for a while under the hopeless Steve McClaren and whilst others pulled away, Sunderland and Norwich have continued to offer Newcastle a lifeline, cutting themselves adrift with United due to throwing away winning positions – the last minute goal Sunderland conceding at Southampton hopefully proving crucial.

It is time for Newcastle to grab that lifeline with both hands as favours may not be handed our way for much longer…

If McClaren had remained then Newcastle were down, no question.

The arrival of Rafa Benitez has offered hope but with only (realistically) one of three clubs to survive, the odds are very much against us, we really do have to start an win some football matches.

At this moment in time, Norwich have eight games remaining, Newcastle and Sunderland nine each – Newcastle on 24 points and the other two clubs having a point more.

Looking at last season, with nine games to go Leicester were bottom of the Premier League with only 19 points. In those remaining nine matches though, they picked up a remarkable 22 points with seven wins (including a 3-0 victory over Newcastle) and a draw.

Needless to say, if either Norwich or Sunderland pick up seven wins in their remaining games, then even Rafa the magician won’t be able to repair the damage done by Steve McClaren and the hierarchy at Newcastle.

A better guide is probably the kind of form the mackems showed to save themselves last season, they picked up 12 points in their last nine games – three draws and three wins – including the 1-0 derby win at home when Defoe scored.

With relegation battlers tending to pick up more points towards the end, as they desperately fight to stay up, I think there is every chance that either Sunderland or Norwich are likely to pick up somewhere around 12 points – though I’m not trying to predict individual games, just the potential (realistic?) overall outcome.

Here are the fixtures for both below:


Newcastle v Sunderland              

Sunderland v West Brom             

Sunderland v Leicester 

Norwich v Sunderland  

Sunderland v Arsenal    

Stoke v Sunderland        

Sunderland v Chelsea   

Sunderland v Everton

Watford v Sunderland


West Brom v Norwich   

Norwich v Newcastle    

Crystal Palace v Norwich              

Norwich v Sunderland

Norwich v Watford         

Arsenal v Norwich          

Norwich v Man Utd        

Everton v Norwich

Twelve points for either of our rivals would mean Newcastle having to pick up at least thirteen points, or probably fourteen (Sunderland have a seven goal difference advantage and Norwich three, over Newcastle).

Which equals at least four wins Newcastle need to pick up, if one of their rivals achieve the above.

However, over these next few rounds of matches it gets more complicated, as Newcastle, Norwich and Sunderland all play each other.

If any of the three can beat both their rivals and then the other match up ends in a draw – it would mean a five point advantage from those round robin games – a massive advantage if anybody achieves that – also potentially meaning one of the other two relegation candidates is less likely to get close to that 12 points target.

So which are the winnable Newcastle matches…


Newcastle v Sunderland              

Norwich v Newcastle    

Southampton v Newcastle         

Newcastle v Swansea   

Newcastle v Manchester City

Liverpool v Newcastle   

Newcastle v Crystal Palace          

Aston Villa v Newcastle                

Newcastle v Tottenham       

Looking at Newcastle’s remaining matches above, I think it roughly breaks down into a group of five that are more achievable than the other four.

Trips to Southampton and Liverpool look tough, along with home matches against Spurs and Manchester City.

Obviously every game has to be approached with the hope of points and Sunderland’s almost win at Southampton shows what is possible.

However, you can’t help but look at the other five as the ones most likely to decide our fate.

Home against Sunderland, Swansea, Palace, plus aways at Norwich and Villa.

I have a feeling that Newcastle will end up having to win an absolutely minimum of three of these five, though realistically it may have be four.

If two of them are over Norwich and Sunderland then that would be a massive bonus.

No doubt Rafa Benitez will be saying one game/win at a time and I’m sure many of you will be like me, a win on Sunday wouldn’t just represent three points – it would also massively set Newcastle up for the remaining eight games and restore much of the missing belief.

Neutrals will be loving this relegation fight but when you are in the middle of it, enjoyment isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.



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