Newcastle United up against the Premier League Top Six.
It has been messy this season.
Before Sunday’s game, Newcastle had only picked up one point all season against that established Top Six – Man U, Man City, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Indeed, in 13 games against the current top 11 in the Premier League, Newcastle had only picked up two points from 39, a draw against Burnley as well as the one at home to Liverpool.
Looking back at the (last) relegation season of 2015/16, in the future people may look at the results against that elite Top Six and wonder how NUFC ever went down.
The 12 Newcastle games in 2015/16 against the elite top six, included these results:
Man Utd 0 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 2 Chelsea 2
Newcastle 2 Liverpool 0
Tottenham 1 Newcastle 2
Newcastle 3 Man Utd 3
Newcastle 1 Man City 1
Liverpool 2 Newcastle 2
Newcastle 5 Tottenham 1
Incredibly, Newcastle actually did better in that relegation campaign against the elite top six than against the rest, picking up 14 points in 12 matches against the ‘top six, whilst they picked up only 23 points in 26 matches against the other 13 clubs.
You would almost think that in that relegation season, Newcastle had players who lifted a leg in the big glamour matches, that were usually on live TV, then just went through the motions in your more humdrum games.
If you were really cynical you might even claim they made every effort in the more high profile games to try and impress other clubs to get the best move possible, not even caring if Newcastle ended up relegated.
It has been a totally different story this time, nobody can doubt the team’s character even though when it comes to quality it might be another matter.
Newcastle have performed better than any club against the others fighting relegation, picking up 26 points from a possible 39 in the 13 matches against other clubs currently in the bottom nine.
Every point hard won but sadly a real struggle against those with better players/teams.
In fact, before Sunday, Newcastle had performed dismally against that elite top six. Seven games had been played and it was six defeats and only the point against Liverpool to show.
Before the weekend, Rafa Benitez himself said that with the relegation struggle so tight, Newcastle would probably have to beat at least one of the ‘top six’. With five of the 12 remaining matches being against top six clubs, it was indeed time for Newcastle to get some points from not so obvious places.
The excellent win over Man Utd has indeed followed, absolutely massive in the relegation battle.
Before Sunday, only Brighton of the relegation strugglers had a worse record than Newcastle against top six sides.
Listed below are all the points each relegation battler has got against the top half dozen clubs.
Every other club apart from Brighton had picked up three points or more and indeed for the likes of Swansea, consecutive victories over Liverpool and Arsenal had handed them an unexpected lifeline.
Newcastle’s next two games are away at relegation battlers Bournemouth and top six Liverpool, would be nice to think we can go to both and stand a chance of picking up points from each of them.
Each club listed with current points total and goal difference, then each draw and win they have had against top six clubs:
Bournemouth (31 and -10)
Chelsea 0 Bournemouth 3, Bournemouth 2 Arsenal 1,
Watford (30 and -10)
Watford 4 Chelsea 1, Watford 2 Arsenal 1, Watford 3 Liverpool 3, Watford 1 Tottenham 1
West Ham (30 and -12)
West Ham 1 Chelsea 0, West Ham 0 Arsenal 0, Tottenham 1 West Ham 1
Newcastle United (28 and -11)
Newcastle 1 Man Utd 0, Newcastle 1 Liverpool 1
Brighton (28 and -14)
Palace (27 and -17)
Palace 2 Chelsea 1, Palace 0 Man City 0
Swansea (27 and -17)
Swansea 3 Arsenal 1, Swansea 1 Liverpool 0, Tottenham 0 Swansea 0
Huddersfield (27 and -24)
Huddersfield 2 Man Utd 1
Southampton (26 and -12)
Southampton 1 Arsenal 1, Man Utd 0 Southampton 0, Southampton 1 Tottenham 1
Stoke (25 and -26)
Stoke 1 Arsenal 0, Stoke 2 Man Utd 2
West Brom (20 and -19)
West Brom 1 Arsenal 1, Liverpool 0 West Brom 0, Tottenham 1 West Brom 1