Feature

Battle for safety: Newcastle United

16 Feb 2019
Miguel Almiron, Newcastle United

In a series on the teams fighting to avoid relegation, we look at the Magpies' fixtures, form and key man

The battle to avoid relegation is intensifying as the season enters its final third, so we look at the prospects of the eight teams with the toughest fight to remain in the Premier League. 

 
Newcastle United

After their worst start to a top-flight campaign in 120 years, it took Newcastle until November and Matchweek 11 to record their first Premier League win of the season.

They have since claimed five more victories, but that has not been enough to pull them away from the bottom three. 

They sit in 16th, only a point above the drop zone, so know they are still very much embroiled in the battle for safety.

But, backed by a miserly defence, no team in the bottom eight have conceded fewer than their 34 goals; their goal difference of -12 is better than the teams below them.

This could prove crucial.

Form

Newcastle have won just two of their last nine league matches, although one victory did come at home to the defending Premier League champions Manchester City as Matt Ritchie secured a 2-1 fightback with an 80th-minute penalty after Sergio Aguero had scored inside the opening 60 seconds.

Their matches have largely been tight affairs, decided by one-goal margins.

After a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on 2 February, the Magpies were denied a precious victory at Molineux nine days later when Wolverhampton Wanderers scored a stoppage-time equaliser.

Fixtures
 

Three of Newcastle's next five fixtures will be played at St James' Park and none features top-six sides, meaning Rafa Benitez's side are well placed to make a move up the table.

The Magpies return to PL action on 23 February when they host bottom side Huddersfield Town, who are without a win in their last 13 league outings.

Newcastle's last away victory came against the Terriers as Salomon Rondon scored the only goal at the John Smith's Stadium.

The Magpies will also be buoyed by the fact that they took seven points from a possible 12 in the reverse fixtures against the four opponents that follow.

After a home tie with Burnley, who sit only two points above, Newcastle travel south to face mid-table West Ham United before they host Everton.

Benitez may look forward to the 700-mile round trip to AFC Bournemouth the following week as Cherries goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was forced to produce a string of fine saves to keep Eddie Howe's team in the reverse contest.

Key man

Newcastle's club-record signing Miguel Almiron was lured from MLS champions Atlanta United on Transfer Deadline Day.

As well as the tenacity he showed on his PL debut at Wolves, Almiron (pictured above) should provide much-needed creativity to the team.

Only two teams have created fewer than the Magpies' 198 chances in the league this season, so the 25-year-old's arrival has brought optimism to Tyneside.

The attacking midfielder provided 13 goals and 11 assists for Atlanta in MLS last season and supporters are hopeful he can produce the chances for Rondon and others to give Newcastle the edge in tight matches.

Also in this series

Part 1: Battle for safety: Crystal Palace
Part 2: Battle for safety: Brighton & Hove Albion
Part 3: Battle for safety: Burnley
Part 5: Battle for safety: Cardiff City
Part 6: Battle for safety: Southampton
Part 7: Battle for safety: Fulham
Part 8: Battle for safety: Huddersfield Town

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