Newcastle United facing up to a Premier League relegation fight with one key difference on last season
The Premier League relegation race is hotting up.
With exactly two weeks until Santa calls, it has narrowed down to seven clubs, with 13 apparently all but safe.
From Liverpool at the top on 42 points, down to Brighton in 13th with 21 points, I find it very hard to see any of these now getting into relegation strife.
As for the bottom seven, as you can see below, you have only five points separating Fulham at the very bottom and Cardiff in 14th, Newcastle a point and a place behind the Welsh club in 14th.
The current Premier League table:
As you can see, 12 months ago, Newcastle found themselves in a very similar position after 16 matches, a position lower in the table but with two more points.
Plus, you had additional comfort of the relegation pack going all the way up to 11th, covering half of the division.
Premier League table after 16 matches in 2017/18:
As year ago, taking Newcastle up to the halfway point, they lost 1-0 at home to Everton, were defeated 1-0 at Arsenal, then went to West Ham and won 3-2. The first 19 matches bringing 18 points.
This time, you have Huddersfield (Away), Fulham (Home) and Liverpool (Away) taking Newcastle to the halfway point. I wouldn’t write any game off completely but Liverpool away looks tough, meaning realistically Newcastle need to beat Fulham and Huddersfield to beat last season’s halfway points total, whilst a win and a draw would give 17 points, one less than after 19 games last season.
The big difference compared to last season is what follows the 19 match point.
In 2017/18, after the halfway point Newcastle faced Man City (H), Brighton (H), Stoke (A), Swansea (H), Man City (A), Burnley (H) and Palace (A).
In 2018/19, NUFC have Watford (A), Man U (H), Chelsea (A), Cardiff (H), Man City (H), Spurs (A) and Wolves (A).
When I look at that set of games facing us this time, I can’t help but think that Rafa’s players have to beat Fulham and Huddersfield in these next two games.
In those post-halfway seven matches last season, Newcastle weren’t exactly in sparkling form but they picked up a point per game and prevented any of their relegations rivals getting a win. Defeats home and away to Man City, a win at Stoke, then draws against Brighton, Swansea, Burnley and Palace.
Not exciting but it did get Newcastle to 25 points from 26 games and a platform to help them eventually comfortably stay up.
I hate to say it but Rafa’s team are really up against it this time. These seven games after Liverpool on Boxing Day are very tough, obviously you have to hope that Newcastle beat Cardiff at home but the next easiest games apart from that one appear to be Wolves and Watford away.
Whilst Newcastle are playing teams at or near the top, no doubt there will be plenty of relegation threatened clubs playing each other, meaning at least somebody has to pick up points down there.
This run of easier games is coming to a close and after yet more home disappointment against West Ham and Wolves, Newcastle desperately need to win at Huddersfield and then home to Mitro’s Fulham.
I can’t see that Mike Ashley going public eight days ago with (supposedly) selling the club has exactly helped the situation and instead has just been another extra weight on Rafa’s shoulders.
If results had been different in these last two home matches then you could have looked at it very differently, but as it stands now, you are definitely a fool if you don’t believe Newcastle are in a very serious Premier League relegation struggle now.
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