It is safe to say that Rafa Benitez and his Newcastle players will be enjoying this two-week break between the huge win over Manchester United and the trip to Bournemouth.

That unexpected victory lifted the Magpies out of the relegation zone and into mid-table, lifting moods on Tyneside as the situation started to look a little desperate.

And another three-points at Bournemouth would now lift Newcastle above the 10th-placed side and onto 31 points with 10 games of the season remaining.

That would represent huge progress for Rafa’s side, with safety surely all but secured at that point, with winnable home games still to come.

But just as victory could set the tone for a comfortable end to the season, defeat on the south coast would plunge Newcastle right back into trouble.

Relegation rivals are picking up results on a weekly basis now and Newcastle have to follow up the trip to Bournemouth with another away game at high-flying Liverpool.

By the time the Magpies return home to face Southampton on March 10, their tally of 28 points could see them back in the thick of the fight at the bottom.

Beating Man United eased a lot of the pressure on Rafa and Newcastle, but it is crucial they do not take their foot off the pedal now, with this weekend’s fixture equally as important.

We should know a lot more about how the coming months will pan out after Saturday…

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