After flirting with relegation throughout the majority of last season, Newcastle United once again find themselves in a battle to avoid the drop, just two years after being promoted from the Championship.
Currently 16th in the Premier League and just one point above 18th placed Southampton, the Magpies will be nervously looking over their shoulder, knowing that they will have to fight in order to avoid their third relegation in ten years.
Yet a number of different factors including the knowledge of manager Rafael Benitez, the firepower of Salomon Rondon and a favourable fixture run-in could all play a role in helping the St. James’ Park-based club remain in the Premier League.
Check out the six reasons why Newcastle United will stay up this season below.
1. Rafael Benitez’s Tactical Prowess
It’s safe to say that without Benitez at the helm, the Magpies could easily still be in the Championship, given the quality of their squad.
However, with the Spaniard in charge until the end of the season at the very least, the players will be given the best opportunity to achieve survival by learning from his impeccable tactical knowledge.
Recent performances against Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have highlighted just how much preparation Benitez puts into each and every game as he was more than a match for Pep Guardiola and Nuno Espirito Santo.
2. A Favourable Fixture Run-In
With the Magpies only having to face two of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ sides in Arsenal and Liverpool before the end of the season, they have a favourable run-in that includes fixtures against Huddersfield Town, Burnley, Fulham and Brighton.
In contrast, fellow relegation-threatened side Cardiff City will have to face four of the top six, whilst Burnley – who are currently 15th in the table – will have to play five including Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
If Newcastle can win the games against teams around them then they will almost certainly maintain their status as a top-flight club for next season.
3. Salomon Rondon’s Firepower in Front of Goal
Salomon Rondon’s loan move to Newcastle from West Bromwich Albion was initially greeted with a lukewarm response from the club’s supporters yet his performances this season have been superb in a team who have lacked attacking creativity.
A powerhouse of a centre forward, the Venezuelan has scored a number of important goals during this year’s campaign and has single-handedly won his club eight points in victories over Huddersfield and AFC Bournemouth and draws against Everton and Watford.
With the arrival of midfielder Miguel Almiron in the January transfer window, Rondon will hoping that his fellow South American can provide him with the kind of chances that will allow him to add to his tally of six goals this season.
4. A Well-Organised Defensive Unit
Despite losing 13 games this season, only Liverpool have score more than three goals against Newcastle with Benitez’s side remaining competitive in nearly all of their fixtures in the Premier League.
A key reason for this is the fact that in the form of Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar and Florian Lejeune, the Magpies have developed a solid defensive core in which they can build from and rely upon whilst goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has, with the exception of the last two games, been superb since joining from Sparta Prague last year.
With the best goal difference (albeit at -12) of the bottom six sides, Newcastle will be confident that they go toe-to-toe in all of their remaining fixtures, feeding off the support that they will receive from their fans.
5. Miguel Almiron
Whereas sides such as Fulham and Brighton were given funds to spend throughout the summer transfer window, the Magpies had to wait until January to finally break their transfer record as manager Rafael Benitez brought in Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United for £21m.
The Paraguayan playmaker’s impact in the Premier League may make the all important difference for Benitez’s side in their quest to stay up yet this may depend on just how quickly he can adapt to the English game after playing in the MLS.
If Almiron can replicate even a fifth of the 25 goals that he was involved in for the Atalanta in 2018, it could be vital to Newcastle’s season as they have been in desperate need for a creative midfielder ever since Georginio Wijnaldum left for Anfield in 2016.
6. The Return of Key Players From Injury
In the absence of midfielders Mohamed Diame, Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-Yeung, Newcastle have arguably been a bit too over-reliant on Sean Longstaff, who to his credit has emerged as a promising young player this season.
However, the 21-year-old will undoubtedly benefit from the competition that the returning trio of players will bring whilst with fixtures coming thick and fast towards the end of the season, Benitez will undoubtedly look to rotate his squad in order to keep his players fresh.
In Shelvey, Newcastle have a player who can unlock defences whilst the return of defender Paul Dummett will also be welcomed by the club who have had to play winger Matt Ritchie as a full back in recent weeks.