May sees the curtain fall on the 2017/8 Premier League season and Newcastle have three final games to navigate to confirm their final standing in the table. A top ten finish is likely if we can pick up a win in the last three games; a fantastic achievement considering the squad Benitez has had at his disposal.
Here’s a run-down of the games we face as we chase that top half finish.
On Saturday we make the long trip down south to fellow mid table side Watford. I watched them against Spurs last night and they have some dangerous players but lacked a cutting edge. The likes of Ricarliosn and Denney are a handful at Vicarage Road in particular but the Hornets season is fizzling out. Both sides will say the right things pre kick off but it could be a tight, end of season affair where in reality neither has a lot to play for. Wouldn’t be surprised if it ended in stalemate.
Prediction – 1-1
Danger man: Richarlison – Yedlin never got to grips with him during the 3-0 home defeat earlier in the season.
Tottenham Hotspur (A)
Next up is then our re-scheduled fixture against Spurs and a chance for Newcastle fans to enjoy a trip to Wembley; though Sky moving it to midweek is yet another example of a lack of thought for travelling fans. We historically do ok against Tottenham but they are a different proposition these days. They will want the win to confirm Champions League football next year and with the likes of Eriksen, Son, Kane and Alli, it is a tough ask for Newcastle.
Prediction – 0-2 (Loss)
Danger man: Harry Kane – The Premier League’s second top scorer. He needs know introduction really.
The season then finishes with the visit of Chelsea, in what could be Antonio Conte’s final game in charge of the club. A lot of this game depends on the context of Chelsea. Technically they could still be chasing a top 4 spot by this game but if they don’t beat Liverpool this weekend their hopes would be over and they then may visit SJP with their flip flops on. They have world class players like Hazard but they will also have one eye on staying fit for the World Cup, so I fancy Newcastle to get something and end the season on a high.
Prediction – 1-1
Danger man: – Eden Hazard – One of the most difficult players to mark in the Premier League. He tore us apart during defeats at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season.
So, I’m expecting two more points, which would leave us on a tally of 43 for the season. With Watford, Palace and Bournemouth all on 38 points (and the latter pair each having two winnable fixtures remaining) it would leave us vulnerable to slipping out of the top 10. Win one of our final three and a top 10 finish will almost certainly be ours.
Regardless of the outcome of the games in May, whether we finish 10th or 14th – it has been a fantastic season. Newcastle fans persuaded Rafa to stay two years ago when we hosted Spurs, so let’s do the same when Chelsea come and visit, regardless of the score.
This summer will be massive for the future of the club and keeping Rafa is key to this. As fans we can’t control a potential takeover but we can do our best to keep Rafa here whilst he weighs up signing a new contract.