With the relegation threatened sides picking up points in the first two games of the four game Christmas season, Newcastle are now just 3 points above the relegation zone.
Andy Carroll - one yellow card away from a one game suspension
But our first two games that we lost, against Manchester City at home and Tottenham away, were not really expected to get us many points, although the lads could have got something out of the Manchester City game, but gave away two Christmas presents in the first five minutes of that game, before putting in a terrific performance after that.
There’s time for a little concern on Tyneside, that we need to start picking up those points, because since the Arsenal win, when we were 5th in the Premier League, we have just 5 points from the last 8 games, and that’s hardly good enough.
But our next two games, at Wigan and home to West Ham over the next six days, are the games that will shape Newcastle’s season.
We have played well against the good sides this season, and not well against the poorer side, and that just has to change, otherwise we will be in a relegation battle this season.
Newcastle probably have better squads than both Wigan and West Ham, which was not true in the last two games, and if the lads play with the same fortitude and spirit they displayed in those last two games, there’s no reason at all why we cannot get two successive wins under our belts.
Quite honestly we’d be very happy with 4 points from these two upcoming games, but wins is what it’s all about these days, so going for the wins, as we always did when Chris Hughton was manager, is what we want to see from Alan Pardew.
We should have all our good players available on Sunday, but one worry is that Barton, Carroll, Tiote and Smith are all just one yellow card away from a suspension – and Tiote will miss two games if he picks up his 10th yellow card of the season at Wigan.
If that happens, it will show that we just don’t have strength in depth, and if we are weakened too much against an improving West Ham side through suspensions or even injury, that could have some dire consequences.
But as far as our players are concerned, we want to see them fighting in these games for a win, as though their very lives depended on it.
If we can do that we can soon get ourselves up that league table again, and fairly soon too, but the lads must turn up and be ready to go in these next two crucial matches.
The big difference between now and two years ago is that we now have a set of lads who will go through hell and high water for this club, and in the tough games to come they will fight it out with the best of them.
That fighting spirit, guts and passion could get the club those vital points we need to stay up this season, and the last thing we want to see is another relegation – some of us just couldn’t take that for a second time in two years.
Howay The Lads!!