Newcastle's destiny is in their own hands

Posted by Marc Duffy

The Premier League is absolutely bonkers.

Newcastle's one and only league away win in the past 12 months came at Villa Park against Aston Villa on January 29. A few months later, Sunderland came to St James' Park sitting behind Newcastle in the league and won, 3-0. A couple of games after that, it was Sunderland's turn to go to Villa Park knowing that a win would as good as secure their Premier League status.

-Pardew: Magpies must stick together

Many Newcastle fans assumed that an apparently rejuvenated Sunderland had turned the corner so began to hope that they would beat Villa. Somehow, Villa, who had managed only 36 goals in 34 games, smashed Sunderland 6-1!

So with three games remaining, Sunderland, Villa and Newcastle are all level on 37 points with Wigan occupying the final relegation slot on 32 points, but with a game in hand.

Having conceded more goals than any other team this season (66), Newcastle have the worst goal difference of the three points-tied teams (Newcastle minus-23, Villa -22, Sunderland -12) and this is a major source of concern for some Newcastle fans. Wigan's goal difference is the same as Newcastle's, but I don't think it will be the decisive factor.

Many will disagree, but I would rather be in Newcastle's position than Wigan's. Wigan might have a game in hand but as Alex Ferguson says, it is the points on the board that count.

Even if Newcastle fail to collect another point this season, Wigan probably need to win two of their remaining four games. Winning two games from the remaining four when all season they've only managed to win eight of 34! Add an FA Cup final into the mix, and I think this is too much for the Latics.

Wigan's remaining league games are against West Brom (A), Swansea (H), Arsenal (A) and Aston Villa (H) -- that last game could be huge.

Even if Wigan do manage to pick up two wins, Newcastle's fate is in their own hands.

Newcastle go to West Ham on Saturday to play against a team who are now home and dry as far as safety is concerned. Despite their secure position, I very much doubt ex-Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce will accept anything less than 100 percent from his side against a club he feels wronged by.

I doubt Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll will want to contribute towards another Newcastle relegation (especially the latter, who might end up back home if the Magpies stay up), but their competitive spirits mean that they won't be holding anything back. (Go on Andy, give Newcastle an own goal!)

It is the QPR game on May 12 that is the key to Newcastle's destiny. If the club can't end their away win drought there against a dispirited, already relegated team who have only won two at home all season, then, quite frankly, they deserve to be relegated.

What Newcastle really don't want is a last-day match against a Champions League-chasing Arsenal. I very much doubt Arsenal would want that either!

Tuesday morning, a couple of national newspapers ran a story about an alleged revolt in the Newcastle dressing room. There wasn't a single quote in the story and the articles seemed to be timed to unsettle things further, but I think the stories will have the opposite effect. The team will be more galvanised.

As small a crumb of comfort as it is, let's not forget Newcastle's performance in the first 45 minutes against West Brom. Newcastle could have had the game sewn up by half-time. Yes, I know they didn't and that the second half was very poor, but they were excellent in that first half.

It's not all doom and gloom.

Newcastle will survive and I am certain there will be big changes in the summer.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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