Newcastle will face Benfica in Lisbon on Thursday night in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final tie, although we cannot let the Europa league rob us of any points in the Premier League.
Sissoko and Cisse challenge Vincent Kompany yesterday
Since the home defeat by Reading, the low point of our season, Newcastle have played eight league games, and we won three of the first four – but have since lost three of the last four – so we need to start getting more wins on the board.
Yesterday was our worst performance since the Reading game, and we also had seven top players – Krul, Debuchy, Haidara, Santon, Tiote, Coloccini and Ben Arfa – all missing, and only two or three of those will return in the next week.
It seems Tim Krul is fit again – and Davide Santon and Massadio Haidara could be fit to play on Thursday night.
But yesterday’s defeat at Manchester City has left us too close to comfort to the relegation zone, although we were helped today when Aston Villa lost 2-1 at home to Liverpool after being 1-0 up at the half.
We are 3 points ahead of Wigan and Aston Villa, and with a better goal difference – but some of the bottom teams are starting to pick up points, so we must help ourselves by winning games.
The next two home games against Fulham and Sunderland are simply massive – and two wins in those games should see us with some welcome breathing space.
Alan Pardew has talked about the Europa League and Premier League today to Sky Sports:
“We have done well in the Europa League, but it can’t detract from the Premier League.” “We have to make sure we are safe.” “We need two victories at least, and maybe a third or a fourth to get ourselves into a strong position.”
“The Europa League is going to put us under pressure, because we are missing some big players at the moment.” “But we didn’t do ourselves any favors against City because we were not aggressive enough.”
We expect to see Newcastle try to ensure we have a full house next Sunday against Fulham, because that is now such an important game for us – because th London side are only three points above us in the league – although they have two games in hand.
Fulham play QPR tomorrow, and maybe a draw would be the best result for Newcastle.
QPR are not going to reach safety by drawing games – they need wins, and a draw would keep Fulham within Newcastle’s reach, and we could gain three points on them next Sunday afternoon with a win.
And the real truth is we have to play a lot better than we did yesterday at the Etihad Stadium in that first half, where we were simply no match for City.
We have to start helping ourselves in the Premier League, and not have to depend on other sides losing – and also not let the Europa League be any distraction, and that seems to be the way the Newcastle manager is looking at things.
And maybe that’s after some prodding from Derek LLambias, reminding the manager of the £4B TV deal that starts next season for the Premier League, and that PL clubs could see up to a 70% increase in revenue from the league compared to what they get this season.
A relegation this season would be a complete and utter disaster for Newcastle United.
That’s our view – maybe a little negative on the Europa League side of things – what do you think?
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org