Newcastle United’s game against Southampton at St James’ Park could be the difference between Premier League survival and relegation.
No one expected Rafa Benitez’s side to pick up any points when they headed to Liverpool last time out, but the next challenge at home to Southampton is simply a must-win game for the Magpies.
The need to win slightly lessened after Nemanja Matic’s late winner at Crystal Palace on Monday night, but the game against the Saints presents Newcastle with a real chance to move away from the relegation zone and hinder their rivals on a weekend that will see the teams around them face tough challenges.
Should Newcastle beat Southampton, they will be four points above Mauricio Pellegrino’s side, who are currently in 17th place, one points above the bottom three.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace’s next game is away to struggling Chelsea, while Stoke City host the champions-elect Manchester City, so on paper, it should be a week where Newcastle can put some real distance between themselves and the relegation zone.
If Benitez’s men lose at home, they will drop at least one position, and could potentially end the weekend in the bottom three if Palace and Stoke are also able to pick up points.
Every week is crucial between now and the end of the season, but Saturday provides a real opportunity for Newcastle to give themselves some breathing space, and help ease the pressure on Tyneside.
Anything other than a win, and the relegation battle will rumble on for Newcastle United.