Newcastle United are in a key period of the season.
Currently on a run of one point from the last seven matches, Rafa’s team now face six Premier League matches separated by only 19 days.
A combination of the early points on the board and relegation rivals finding all kinds of ways not to win, had given a slightly false sense of security.
However, this is quickly changing and it has become ever clearer that it is only Newcastle United who can save themselves.
A surprise win for West Ham over Chelsea at the weekend, was then followed by a late Swansea winner against West Brom on Saturday.
Going into last weekend you looked at the table and just so long as the Magpies had that six point lead over Swansea and five points over both West Ham and Palace, there was breathing space.
That isn’t the case anymore.
Tuesday night saw three Premier League matches played and there were goals scoring in all three of them in the 89th minute and after, four goals in total.
Chelsea were cruising 3-0 at Huddersfield and the home side’s 92nd minute goal was neither here nor there.
At Selhurst Park, Watford took a third minute lead through Daryl Janmaat and looked to be adding yet another away win to their tally. However, Tom Cleverley got sent off on 87 minutes and it collapsed from there, Crystal Palace scoring in the 89th and 92nd minutes to dramatically win the match.
Elsewhere, Stoke were heading for a point at Burnley and Mark Hughes felt they had deserved all three, only for the home side’s remarkable start to the season continuing. An 89th minute Barnes goal sending Burnley, even if only temporarily, into fourth place! Most importantly for Newcastle though it kept Stoke only one point above the Magpies.
Before the weekend, with that five and six point barrier to the bottom three, I thought three points from Leicester and Everton would almost certainly guarantee Newcastle being above the relegation zone at Christmas, despite tricky away matches at Arsenal and West Ham following.
However, as it looks now, I think we have to beat Everton tonight to stand any chance of not being in the bottom three when Santa calls, especially important when you consider Manchester City (at home) lie in wait on the 27th.
Premier League table before Newcastle v Everton:
As for Crystal Palace, since we carried the luck and beat them 1-0 in October, Newcastle have lost six and drawn one. Meanwhile the Eagles have won two, drawn five and only lost one, plus the game before the match at St James Park saw Palace beat Chelsea. They were seen as a joke and no-hopers when Newcastle beat them and now only one point separates the two teams.
Time for Newcastle’s players to wake up and put together a whole 90 minutes, rather than just bright spells in games and a succession of calamitous mistakes, usually giving up possession and being punished at this level.