After double blow for Newcastle United on Saturday the game at Wolves just might now be most important so far
For Newcastle United, Monday night’s game has just gone up a number of notches in importance.
When asked about the importance of any particular game, managers will often block it with the stock answer of the next one is always the most important.
Well in Newcastle’s case, the match at Wolves may really have developed into the key match that could shape the rest of the season.
With Rafa’s team not playing until Monday, it meant the rest of the relegation candidates would play first.
Whatever else happened Newcastle desperately needed to avoid the damage that would be done if both Cardiff and Burnley won….
These are the weekend’s Premier League matches/results:
Fulham 0 Man Utd 3
Crystal Palace 1 West Ham 1
Huddersfield 1 Arsenal 2
Liverpool 3 Bournemouth 0
Southampton 1 Cardiff 2
Watford 1 Everton 0
Brighton 1 Burnley 3
Tottenham v Leicester (1.30pm)
Man City v Chelsea (4pm)
Wolves v Newcastle United (8pm)
This is how the Premier League table now looks…
Cardiff won against the odds at Southampton, riding a tide of emotion they made it two wins in a row, despite being second best for much of the game the Welsh club took the lead and then after the Saints scored a 91st minuted equaliser, Cardiff came back and won it in the 93rd minute.
As for Burnley, they had a helping and from a referee who should have given Brighton a penalty at two down but instead Burnley went up the other end and made it 3-0, Duffy getting a late consolation goal. Dyche’s team now have four wins and three draws in their last seven games.
Palace coming back to draw at home to West Ham was an additional small blow for Newcastle, moving them three points above the Magpies.
On the positive front you had Fulham and Huddersfield seemingly further confirming their relegations, whilst Southampton were the biggest losers in more ways than one, dropping into the bottom three. Brighton also joined the party, confirming they are a relegation candidate with that latest defeat.
Only three points separate Southampton in 18th with Palace in 13th, six clubs fighting not to be that third relegation club.
We could have hoped Cardiff might have become a third certainty but they have shown great character with everything that was stacked against them.
There is no third soft touch that will give the rest comfort.
Which brings us to Monday at Wolves.
Most Newcastle fans had looked at the fixtures and seen Huddersfield and Burnley at home at the end of February, after what looked a tougher run of games, and have expected them to be a major help towards safety.
Maybe they might still be but I don’t think either game will be the soft touch so many seemed to believe they would be.
This is why I see it as potentially essential that Newcastle get something at Wolves to help ensure the team approach those two games as a club that are not only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Burnley’s form of four wins and three draws in the last seven is self-explanatory but Huddersfield as well is far tougher than it may look.
They are now at the stage where they have nothing to lose and are maybe starting to play with more freedom. No way did they deserve to lose to Arsenal yesterday, they had more possession (55%), more shots (15 v 9), more efforts on target (6 v 4) and more corners (5-0).
It was only luck that they didn’t have more of.
After Huddersfield and Burnley, Newcastle then face West Ham, Everton, Bournemouth and Arsenal. All clubs with better teams than Newcastle’s but all with indifferent/poor form at the minute.
If Newcastle go into those March matches in a good frame of mind then I think there is every chance of last season’s February to April run of form could be repeated. However, I have a feeling this run of form needs to start at Wolves, with at least a draw.
Going into those March games under massive pressure, possibly in the bottom three, doesn’t bear thinking about.
Some Newcastle fans are looking at tomorrow night as a bit of a free go against a team that have done really well after promotion.
I see it as a crucial relegation game that Newcastle can’t really afford to lose.
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