It has been a disastrous season for Newcastle United. They sit 19th in the league, and although they are just one point from safety, both Norwich and Sunderland have a game in hand. However there is hope for the Magpies, who face Crystal Palace and Aston Villa over the next fortnight, two of the division’s most out of form sides. If they are to remain in England’s top flight, they have to win those two games.
This certainly isn’t the season Newcastle fans were hoping for. Under the management of Steve McClaren they spent upwards of £50 million last summer on the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the first time that Mike Ashley had invested heavily on new players for a number of years.
There has been more hope for Newcastle in recent weeks following the appointment of Rafa Benitez. Before his arrival there were too many examples of the players simply downing tools and abandoning their responsibilities, including matches with Bournemouth and Chelsea.
Since the Spaniard came to the club however they have shown much more fight and passion for the cause, coming from behind on a number of occasions to win the club valuable points. Many had written them off at half time against Liverpool trailing 2-0, but an excellent second half showing earned them a point.
Newcastle couldn’t ask for an easier pair of games than ones against two of the Premier League`s most out of form teams. Already relegated Villa are on a run of 10 consecutive defeats and have been the target of fan protests for a number of weeks, while Palace have won just once in the league in 2016.
Newcastle will feel that two wins will certainly take then above Norwich in the league, with the Canaries facing tough challenges against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton in the closing weeks of the season. Sunderland face similarly tough games against Everton and Chelsea in coming weeks, but the Black Cats have a good record against good teams at the business end of the season.
36 points may not be enough to certainly keep them in the Premier League, but it would definitely pile the pressure on Sunderland. However with a tough game to come at home to Tottenham on the final day, the Magpies must pick up wins against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa before then.