When you are in the bottom three after more than four months of the season has passed, most people would agree you are in a relegation battle, but not Isaac Hayden.
Despite picking up only one point from the last ten matches, the midfielder insists that ‘you can’t be talking about relegation battles now’.
You do obviously have to keep a positive attitude but only two topics are occupying the minds of Newcastle fans at the minute – will they at last get rid of Mike Ashley and are the club going to make an instant return to the Championship.
Our poll result yesterday saw 2,402 Newcastle fans respond, with just over 60% believing that relegation is more likely than survival.
With four of the next five matches against other relegation strugglers, there is the chance for a quick upward turn, with West Ham, Swansea, Stoke and Brighton to be faced by 5pm on Saturday 13 January.
However, Isaac Hayden is surely getting a little bit carried away when he claims ‘Apart from the top six it’s anyone’s game really’.
Newcastle’s four wins have all come against clubs currently in the bottom seven. Whilst they have played 12 matches against clubs in the top 13 and have lost 10 and drawn two.
Newcastle supporters all expected a relegation battle was all but certain after there wasn’t proper investment in the squad this summer and when you are 18th with 15 points from 18 matches, you are most definitely in a relegation battle.
The team played ok on Saturday but in reality it was only the very final stages when Gayle and Ritchie came on, that Newcastle seriously threatened, as Arsenal became lax.
With more or less a full squad to choose from now and ‘winnable’ games ahead, it could be make or break for Newcastle in the coming weeks.
“There are 20 games left and you can’t be talking about relegation battles now, there is so much more football to play.
“Apart from the top six it’s anyone’s game really.
“We will try our best to get as high as we can. If we play like we did (on Saturday), we’ll have a lot more opportunities to get points in the future.”
“The game was decided on one bit of world-class quality, a great finish and it ended up deciding the game. We were toe-to-toe with them in the second half, we could have nicked something if we were a bit luckier.
“There’s a lot to be positive about after that performance, especially playing at the Emirates. It’s a tough place to come. They keep the ball really well and make you run and work, I thought we did that really well.
“We closed a lot of the lines and limited them to few clear cut chances. Second half, we matched them. We could have nicked something had we been a bit more clinical.
“When you play against Arsenal away, they’re going to limit you to less chances. You’re running, closing gaps and defending for long periods of time.
“When you do get the ball, you have to use it really well. They press high up the pitch and get the ball back as quickly as possible. We had to be very patient when we did get the ball. I thought we did that quite well, but you want points, and we didn’t get any.
“It was nice to play against them, but I just wanted to try and get some points for the club. It’s a very difficult stage at the moment, and it’s frustrating not to get a point.
“We can only keep working and keep doing what we’ve been doing in training and keep listening to the manager. If we play like that for the rest of the season against the lesser teams, if you call it that, I think we will be OK.”