It could get messy for Newcastle United on Saturday
By the time Newcastle United kick off on Sunday afternoon, the Premier League table might not look quite so appealing.
At the moment, being in 14th place with six clubs below you sounds not too bad.
However, it is unbelievably tight.
Only the discipline Rafa Benitez has instilled in his team has kept them these few places higher up the league, a better goal difference than most – thanks to the NUFC side not falling to bits and getting thumped in games.
Only five times in 25 Premier League games have Newcastle lost by more than one goal and only one of those five was there more than two goals in it (4-1 at Man Utd.).
Even better, in the 19 games that Jamaal Lascelles has started, only once have Newcastle lost a match by more than one goal (Man City away 3-1).
Going into this weekend’s matches, this is how it looks for the 12 clubs who realistically could be relegated.
As you can see, if the four clubs below them even get just a draw this afternoon then they would all go above Newcastle, only Huddersfield look very unlikely to do that, though they actually beat Man Utd at home earlier in the season.
After consecutive home wins over Liverpool and Arsenal, you wouldn’t find it impossible to imagine Swansea winning at Leicester either.
On top of that, the games between Brighton v West Ham, Bournemouth v Stoke and West Brom v Southampton, there is no ideal result. (Similar story next weekend when amongst the fixtures are Stoke v Brighton, West Ham v Watford and Huddersfield v Bournemouth).
Whatever happens elsewhere, you have to think Newcastle really have to at least avoid defeat at Crystal Palace. Then with three of the following five matches seeing Newcastle face Man Utd, Liverpool and Tottenham, Newcastle could really do with picking up some unexpected bonus points from the better teams.
As it stands at the minute, only two of Newcastle’s 24 points have come from teams in the current top 11 of the Premier League (home draws with Liverpool and Burnley).
The last three Premier League home matches have seen tame draws against Brighton, Swansea and Burnley, so you have to hope that not picking up more points in these winnable matches will not cost Newcastle longer-term.
A win at Palace would be massive but in reality would only give Newcastle a little bit of breathing space. A defeat and that home match with Manchester United, after most other clubs will have played next weekend, could look especially daunting.
Burnley v Man City (12.30pm)
Bournemouth v Stoke (3pm)
Brighton v West Ham (3pm)
Leicester v Swansea (3pm)
Man Utd v Huddersfield (3pm)
West Brom v Southampton (3pm)
Arsenal v Everton (5.30pm)
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United (2.15pm)
Liverpool v Tottenham (4.30pm)
Watford v Chelsea (8pm)
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