Newcastle’s survival hopes assessed after winless run brings relegation fears

Newcastle United fans are divided at present following another turbulent season on Tyneside.

An impressive unbeaten run over the festive period eased relegation fears for the Magpies.

But a dip in form leaves Newcastle and Steve Bruce without a Premier League win since January 18.

The Toon sit seven points clear of the drop with 11 games to go this term.

So, will they be facing another season in the Championship come the summer?

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Five reasons they may be relegated

Bottom of stats table

MATCH of the Day pundit Martin Keown summed up the dark mood of many Toon fans when admitting he feared for the Magpies in the wake of their turgid defeat at Crystal Palace.

And he had the stats to back up his sense of pessimism.

Newcastle are the top flight's worst team when it comes to chances created, possession stats and goals scored.

And Martin Dubravka has made more saves than any of his peers.

Can't score goals

Newcastle went into the Palace game with only their hosts having found the net less than themselves this season.

But Roy Hodgson's team looked positively prolific against their shot-shy opponents even if it did take a set-piece to separate the two teams.

As the whole world knows by now, record buy Joelinton has scored just one league goal, back-up strikers Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto are still to open their accounts and Andy Carroll is injured.

During the first half of the campaign, Toon defenders were popping up with the odd goal but this source has dried up in recent weeks.

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Bad form

Brighton may be the only side not to have won a league game in 2020 but Newcastle's only win came with an injury-time winner against Chelsea.

They kicked off the New Year with a 3-0 home defeat against Leicester and conceded four at Arsenal nine days ago.

Against Premier League opposition, their only goal in normal time was at Wolves on January 11.

A leaky defence and and powder puff attack is usually a recipe for disaster.

Luck running out

Steve Bruce's critics claim that while on paper, Newcastle's haul of 31 points isn't too bad, it conceals the worryingtruth that the team is a lot worse than such a tally would suggest

They were outplayed at Everton only to rescue a point with goals in the 94th and 95th minutes.

Home victories against Crystal Palace and Chelsea were earned with injury-time winners.

They were outplayed against Southampton at St James' Park yet won and were passed to death by Brighton yet still emerged with a draw.

Dubravka has been their star man so far this term. That speaks volumes.

Divided fan base

Social media would suggest the Toon Army are desperate to see the back of Bruce.

The cyber world doesn't always paint an accurate picture and invariably accentuates the negative.

But most fans would feel more relaxed if Rafa Benitez was still at the helm, even though, among the fair-minded, there is acceptance that Bruce hasn't been as bad as his biggest critics claim.

And let's not forget that while Mike Ashley's most vocal opponents have been boycotting matches this season, those that are still St James' Park regular are hardly his biggest fans.

The atmosphere has not been great this season – hardly surprising considering the lack of entertainment.

It would not take much, however, for it to turn toxic.

Five reasons they will stay up

Safety cushion

It's that time of year when supporters are looking for crumbs of consolation and Newcastle's relegation rivals are certainly doing their bit.

A seven point gap between themselves and the relegation zone (it could narrow to six points if West Ham get anything at Liverpool tonight) is a cushion most fans would have accepted a few months ago.

And it's not as if those teams below them are winning regularly.

Nigel Pearson's honeymoon at Watford appears over, Bournemouth are having no luck at all while West Ham and Aston Villa seem to be even more self-combustible than the Geordies.

Norwich outplayed Newcastle at SJP earlier this month but looked doomed.

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Home form

Between August 11 when they lost 1-0 to Arsenal and December 28, the Magpies were undefeated on home soil a run of eight games.

That included a win over Manchester United and a deserved draw against Manchester City.

Their campaign ends with Liverpool the visitors but before then, they have some winnable fixtures with the likes of Aston Villa and West Ham still to visit Tyneside.

They would expect to win those while Burnley, Sheffield United and even Tottenham have points potential.

Team spirit

Of course, confidence has been hit in recent games but as they have proved so often this season, Newcastle keep going to the bitter end (well, they did before that second half collapse at Arsenal!).

The players can rarely be accused of not putting in a collective shift and have tended to respond to adversity in positive fashion,

There are no signs of the dressing room being disunited while the players seem to be right behind Bruce.

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Time to gel

The Toon chief brought in three players last month _ Danny Rose, Nabil Bentaleb and Valentino Lazaro.

The new arrivals haven't pulled up any trees so far but were expectations unrealistic?

After all, none of the trio had been playing regularly for their parent clubs – they would not be at Newcastle had they been.

It may take a few weeks for the Magpies to see the best of three individuals who, on paper, should add quality to the squad.

Cup fever

It's not beyond the realms of possibility that in nine days time, Newcastle are sitting pretty on 34 points and through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

No-one needs to remind Bruce or his players how vital it is to take something out of Saturday's home game against Burnley.

But three days later, the Toon head for the Hawthorns and a fifth round tie against West Brom.

A last 16 game is already something new in the Mike Ashley era and excitement is growing.

Imagine if Newcastle win next week and are just 90 minutes away from a Wembley date.

Suddenly, the Geordie nation will be feeling very good about itself.

Positive momentum can only enhance survival prospects.

  • Newcastle United FC
  • FA Cup
  • Premier League
  • Mike Ashley
  • Steve Bruce

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