More points dropped at home on Wednesday has left the table as tight as ever and NUFC precariously close to the bottom three. This late in the season, every game is a big one, and despite next month being a shorter one in terms of league matches, it could make all the difference come May. Here is who we come up against…
CRYSTAL PALACE (A)
Prediction: Palace 1-1 Newcastle
This Sunday sees us travel to Selhurst Park for a televised afternoon kick off, with Palace just a place above us in the table. After a dreadful start to the season they have turned things round well and look to be heading in the right direction under Roy Hodgson. They are a real threat going forward with the likes of Zaha, Benteke and former toon players Townsend and Cabaye at their disposal. Palace have lots of injuries which may help our cause but avoiding defeat is crucial here.
League position: 13th
Danger man: Wilfried Zaha
Form last six games: 8 points (9th)
MANCHESTER UNITED (H)
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Man Utd
We then return to St James’ to host Manchester United, which although we desperately need the points, in reality will be a bit of a free swing for Rafa and the lads. We can’t expect to pick anything up in this fixture realistically so anything would be a bonus. Lukaku, Sanchez, Martial and Pogba will cause us problems. The glimmer of hope is the atmosphere this fixture is sure to create, which could be helped by the fact it’s Islam Slimani’s likely return date.
League position: 2nd
Danger man: Alexis Sanchez
Form last six games: 10 points (5th)
Prediction: Bournemouth 0-1 Newcastle
Eddie Howe’s men had been in dire straits around the festive period and truly in the relegation mix. They are still currently just five points above the bottom three but in 10th and off the back of a terrific 3-0 win at Chelsea they look like they are finding form at the right time. Depending how other results go and what points we pick up against Palace and Man. Utd, we really could do with a win here but it’s a tough ask. We will be fighting for our lives in this one and I fancy us to do a job on them IF Slimani is able to start and make an immediate impact.
League position: 10th
Danger man: Callum Wilson
Form last six games: 11 points (4th)
If we did pick up four points it would leave us on 28 points from 27 games played. Really, we need to get three points from either the Palace or Bournemouth games as they are some of our ‘easier’ games left this season. If we remain as we are, picking up a point a game, it is dangerously close to the 40 point mark of just under it. It is going to go to the wire this season and winning games, rather than draws will get us out of trouble. Hopefully Slimani can fire us to safety, once fit!