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Opinion

Friday night defensive collapses hand Newcastle United perfect Premier League escape route

5 months ago
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The Premier League action really went Newcastle’s way on Friday night.

The two results helping to open a perfect escape route for Rafa Benitez and his players.

Ryan Babel gave Fulham the lead after only three minutes but Hernandez equalised on 29 minutes with an outrageous bit of cheating, diverting in an equaliser with his hand at the back post. A perfect scenario for VAR but sadly for Fulham it will be August before it is introduced and they won’t be in the Premier League to see it.

That equaliser knocked all the stuffing/hope out of Fulham and once Diop put West Ham in the lead on 40 minutes they were well beat. Antonio making it 3-1 in the final seconds but with Fulham’s shocking defender and goalkeeper it could have been far more.

As for Cardiff, like Newcastle they had consecutive home games a few days apart that could have potentially pushed them away from danger.

However, they fell to a crushing 5-1 home defeat to Watford, getting their consolation goal at 4-0 down.

Cardiff have now conceded 52 goals and Fulham 61, the two highest in the Premier League.

As for goal difference, Cardiff are -27 and Fulham -35, whilst Newcastle are only -12, the best in that bottom six.

There are still only five clubs who have conceded less than Newcastle’s 34 goals and those five are all in the top eight.

The ability of Rafa Benitez to organise a solid and disciplined defence is increasingly looking like the central factor that could/should keep Newcastle up.

If Newcastle can now beat Huddersfield and Burnley at home, it would be massive.

Cardiff’s defending was abysmal last night and if Everton have one of their going nights on Tuesday, they could easily win in Wales.

That set of results would see Newcastle a minimum of six points (could be seven if Southampton lost both their games) and a far better goal difference above the relegation zone, with only 10 games to play.

This is how the bottom eight looks now (Cardiff and Fulham have played 27 now, the rest 26) and then the fixtures for this weekend and midweek:

27 Crystal Palace (-7)

27 Brighton (-11)

27 Burnley (-18)

25 Newcastle (-12)

25 Cardiff (-27)

24 Southampton (-16)

17 Fulham (-35)

11 Huddersfield (-34)

Saturday 23 February

Burnley v Tottenham (12.30pm)

Bournemouth v Wolves (3pm)

Newcastle v Huddersfield (3pm)

Leicester v Crystal Palace (5.30pm)

Sunday 24 February

Arsenal v Southampton (2.05pm)

Man United v Liverpool (2.05pm)

Tuesday 26 February

Cardiff v Everton (7.45pm)

Huddersfield v Wolves (7.45pm)

Leicester v Brighton (7.45pm)

Newcastle v Burnley (8pm)

Wednesday 27 February

Arsenal v Bournemouth (7.45pm)

Southampton v Fulham (7.45pm)

Chelsea v Tottenham (8pm)

Crystal Palace v Man United (8pm)

Liverpool v Watford (8pm)

Man City v West Ham United (8pm)

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