The fightback at the Hawthorns could prove to be a crucial point come May in what is clearly becoming a tight battle for survival this season. It stopped the rot of four losses and also meant West Brom, a potential relegation rival, didn’t gain on us either.
With us sliding down the table, a good December, where the games come thick and fast, is pivotal. We have six games in December, so how many points can we realistically aim for?
This Saturday is the visit of a talented but inconsistent Leicester side now under the stewardship of Frenchman Claude Puel. After a shaky start, they have picked up recently and will be aiming a top half finish. They may not be the same side the incredibly won the title a few years ago; but with the likes of Vardy and Mahrez still at the club, they will be a real threat.
If points weren’t so vital we would usually take a point from this one but a win would really help us get back on track. A draw would put pressure on our next game to get back to winning ways and Rafa may feel that would be a decent return.
Danger man: Jamie Vardy
We then have another game at SJP a few days later, with former Toon boss Sam Allardyce coming back to the North East; being a former Newcastle and Sunderland manager of course. Expect a hostile reception for long ball merchant Big Sam but Everton do look on the up. They demolished West Ham 4-0 and Rooney loves scoring against NUFC. It will be a tougher game than the table suggests as Everton have underperformed but as mentioned above, we need to win this or at least collect 4 points from this and the Leicester game.
Danger man: Wayne Rooney
A tricky trip to the Emirates then awaits us, which has been far from a happy hunting ground for us. The gunners are on a good run apart from the set back against Man United and despite constant media frenzy about them, have some world class players in their ranks. A tough afternoon awaits us here.
Danger man: Alexandre Lacazette
WEST HAM (A)
A lot could change by the time we make our first trip to the London Stadium of course but this appears to be a key game. West Ham are struggling badly and remind me a lot of the recent Newcastle sides to go down; some good players on paper but possessing an aparante lack of desire and organisation They have failed to improve under David Moyes and I suspect this will be a nervy encounter with so much on the line for both sides. Former Toon hitman Andy Carroll would also love to score against his hometown club no doubt.
Danger man: Manuel Lanzini
MANCHESTER CITY (H)
Our first game after Christmas is perhaps the toughest home game of the season, as Pep Guardiola travels to SJP with his swashbuckling side who have blown everybody away this season. We have to hope they slip up at some stage and we get some luck that is against us, but the reality is that if we get anything from this game it would be a complete bonus. Hopefully we can offer a battling display for our home crowd to provide some festive cheer.
Danger man: Sergio Aguero (Could be any of 5!)
This is arguably our most important game of the month and by the time we play it, it could be even more crucial. A fellow newly promoted side, you expect the Seagulls to be down with us towards the end of the season and it of course marks a return to SJP for the popular ex- Newcastle Boss Chris Houghton. We have to win games like this to stay up so nothing other than three points will do, especially as we lost at the Amex earlier in the season.
Danger man: Anthony Knockaert
What would be a good points haul?
Newcastle especially tend to pick up points against teams we don’t expect and lose the supposed ‘easier games’ but from my predictions we could pick up 8 points, with two defeats, two wins and two draws in December.
This would put us on 23 points from 21 games and our heads just above water and on track for the magical 40 points needed to stay up. I hope we can get more of course, but it is imperative we don’t lose the games against fellow strugglers West Ham and Brighton.
How many points do you think we will get? And how many do we need?
About Simon Riddlesden
Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.