Feature

Are Newcastle back in the race for Champions League spot?

17 Apr 2024
Newcastle celebration

See how Magpies' fixtures compare with those of their rivals

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With four wins in six matches, and 15 goals scored over that spell, Newcastle United have hit form at the perfect time in the race for Europe.

The Magpies' 4-0 thumping of Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday took them above Manchester United into sixth spot.

Race for Europe

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
4 Aston Villa AVL 38 +15 68
5 Spurs TOT 38 +13 66
6 Chelsea CHE 38 +14 63
7 Newcastle NEW 38 +23 60
8 Man Utd MUN 38 -1 60
9 West Ham WHU 38 -14 52
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It leaves the Mapgies just one place away from fifth, which could be enough for UEFA Champions League qualification.

This season, two leagues in Europe will be rewarded with an extra place in the revamped 2024/25 UEFA Champions League (UCL) based on the record of their clubs in all of UEFA’s competitions this campaign.

So, could Newcastle be back in the race for the Champions League?

Can they make up the 10-point gap to Spurs or the 13-point gap to Aston Villa, who have played an extra match? We've compared the Magpies' fixtures with those of the two teams above them, and Man Utd, to find out.

Newcastle have easiest run-in

If we look at the average points won this season by each club's remaining opponents, Newcastle have by far the easiest set of matches and Spurs have the hardest, so the gap between them could continue to close.

In fact, both of the clubs who are chasing - Newcastle and Man Utd - have more attractive fixtures than the teams who sit fourth and fifth.

MW Aston Villa Spurs Newcastle Man Utd
34 Bournemouth (H) - Crystal Palace (A) Sheff Utd (H)
35 Chelsea (H) Arsenal (H), Chelsea (A) Sheff Utd (H) Burnley (H)
36 Brighton (A) Liverpool (A) Burnley (A) Crystal Palace (A)
37 Liverpool (H) Burnley (H), Man City (H) Brighton (H)
Man Utd (A)
Arsenal (H), Newcastle (H)
38 Crystal Palace (A) Sheff Utd (A) Brentford (A) Brighton (A)
Ave. points 47.4 49.7 32.5 39.0

Newcastle's remaining opponents have an average of 32.5 points, which is the equivalent of facing Brentford or Crystal Palace in every match for the rest of the season.

By comparison, Spurs' opponents have an average of 49.7 points, the equivalent of taking on Newcastle or Man Utd in every game.

Newcastle and Man Utd both have Sheffield United, Burnley and Palace to play in their next three fixtures, while Villa don’t face anyone currently in the bottom five between now and the final day of the season on Sunday 19 May.

Indeed, four of Newcastle's remaining matches are against teams currently lying in the bottom seven.

Recent history certainly favours the Magpies. They have beaten all four of those opponents in this season's reverse fixtures, scoring a total of 15 goals and conceding none, including their 8-0 win against Sheff Utd

The 17 Premier League goals of Alexander Isak, including seven in his last six appearances, have been a big factor in reigniting Newcastle's season, and the Castrol Golden Boot contender could prove a decisive figure between now and the end of the season.

While four of Newcastle's six remaining Premier League matches are on the road, Man Utd will be hoping to make home advantage count as they have the same number to be played at Old Trafford.

The standout fixture for both clubs will be a pivotal head-to-head on Wednesday 15 May when Man Utd host Newcastle, four days before the end of the season.

Newcastle won December's reverse fixture when Anthony Gordon's strike secured a 1-0 victory at St James' Park, and indeed Eddie Howe's men have won their last three contests with United across all competitions.

Sticky set of matches for Spurs

Spurs have a notable disadvantage in their final half-dozen matches.

Three of their next five are against title contenders ArsenalLiverpool and Manchester City, with a derby at in-form Chelsea in there for good measure.

But Ange Postecoglou's side have an advantage in another way - Spurs have fewer injuries than any of their rivals and are currently having a 15-day break, giving Postecoglou extra time on the training field ahead of the north London derby.

See: Every club's injury list

Villa, currently one place and three points clear of Spurs, have the second-toughest set of fixtures.

Like Man Utd, most of their remaining matches are at home, with three out of five coming at Villa Park. But they must make that advantage count after winning only two of their last six Premier League matches at Villa Park.

One thing is for sure - it is certainly not just a two-horse race in the bid for Champions League qualification.

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