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Opinion

The 6 games that will decide Newcastle United fate

1 year ago
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Newcastle United came away from Selhurst Park with a valuable point.

Could have been three if taking one of the chances to make it 2-0 but equally/even more so, Palace could/should have finished NUFC off once they became the dominant team after the break.

I was interested to see the article on The Mag earlier today featuring the Premier League relegation odds.

Newcastle currently 2/1 and rated the fifth most likely to go down.

I wrote an article that was published on Saturday where I explained why I thought the ‘experts’ such as Owen, Lawrenson and Merson had their predictions wrong.

All three said it would be a comfortable home win and I published some stats explaining why they were wrong and Newcastle had every chance of getting at least a point.

The basis of this was that against the other eight clubs (Huddersfield, West Brom, Swansea, Stoke, Brighton, Palace, West Ham and Southampton) in the bottom nine (still the same bottom nine after the weekend’s results), Newcastle have an astonishing record – stats which I have now updated (the 13 games listed individually at the bottom of the article as well):

This is the astonishing record of Newcastle’s record against the other eight clubs in the bottom nine of the table:

Played 13 Won 6 Drawn 5 Lost 2 (23 points from possible 36)

In contrast, Newcastle’s record against the current top 11 clubs is:

Played 13 Won 0 Drawn 2 Lost 11 (2 points from possible 39)

Newcastle may have been under pressure in the Palace game later on but we could still easily have won, never mind draw. Newcastle had more corners and shots on target than Palace, plus an almost equal share of the possession. This backed up my theory (as opposed to Owen, Merson etc) and a draw was probably fair.

Looking at the rest of this season, Newcastle have 12 games left, six at home and six away.

However, I am more interested in a different six and six split.

I believe that there are six games where Rafa’s players stand next to no chance, with the other six where Newcastle have to get the points if they are to survive.

Next to no chance games:

Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal at home, Liverpool, Spurs and Leicester away.

Matches with possibilities:

West Brom, Southampton and Huddersfield at home, Bournemouth, Watford and Everton away.

As the more observant of you may have noticed, Newcastle have already (sadly) played 13 of their 16 matches against clubs currently in the bottom nine.

The three they have remaining are all at home, that trio of West Brom, Southampton and Huddersfield.

I know Newcastle have only won three of their first 13 at St James Park but to have any chance of survival, Rafa’s players have to win those three games, no question.

The other three with ‘possibilities’ are the away games at Watford, Bournemouth and Everton, all three of these won at St James Park, though Newcastle wasted great chances to beat the latter two and as for the 0-3 against Watford, it was just a shambles.

However, I think Newcastle have to get an absolute minimum of four points from this trio of away matches.

Along with nine from the winnable home ones, that would give another 13 points and take NUFC to 38 points, which just maybe could be a surviving total.

The other six matches I would be amazed and very pleasantly surprised if we get anything. To do so I think you are looking at getting a lot of luck, just as we did in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool (Burnley at home the other point gained against the top 11 in the Premier League).

These teams, including Leicester (and Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal), just have far too much quality and pace, in these games Newcastle will struggle to even put together moves to get into the opposition half much. Especially with Rafa knowing his team are capable of being ripped apart if committing too much forward, as eve Palace threatened to do yesterday.

To compound matters, Kenedy won’t be able to play on the final day against Chelsea, nor Slimani when NUFC face Leicester.

With the front six yesterday, only Kenedy and Gayle are anything but pedestrian. I don’t rate Perez whatsoever and his ‘attempts’ at closing down defenders are embarrassing.

I know he seems to be taking a lot of the blame this season and deserves some of it but I would hope Gayle keeps his place and is paired with Slimani, then get Murphy and Kenedy on the wings and it doesn’t matter as much that Diame (first choice now, who would have thought…) and whoever else (Shelvey, Merino…) are so pedestrian in the middle.

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For me, the easy part is identifying the games where Newcastle could/should get points but of course far more difficult when it comes to Rafa’s job of actually selecting the tactics and players to try and win those points.

As for the six matches I have marked down as having no chance, I am not suggesting that Rafa goes for all out attack but with the tactics so far against better teams only producing damage limitation at best, maybe time to go and try something else and a more attacking formation, as what have we to lose in those matches?

Matches played so far by Newcastle against other clubs in current bottom nine of Premier League:

Huddersfield 1 Newcastle 0 (20 Aug 2017)

Newcastle 3 West Ham 0 (26 Aug 2017)

Swansea 0 Newcastle 1 (10 Sept 2017)

Newcastle 2 Stoke 1 (16 Sept 2017)

Brighton 1 Newcastle 0 (24 Sept 2017)

Southampton 2 Newcastle 2 (15 Oct 2017)

Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0 (21 Oct 2017)

West Brom 2 Newcastle 2 (28 Nov 2017)

West Ham 2 Newcastle 3 (23 Dec 2017)

Newcastle 0 Brighton 0  (30 Dec 2017)

Stoke 0 Newcastle 1 (1 Jan 2018)

Newcastle 1 Swansea 1 (13 Jan 2018)

Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1 (4 February 2018)
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