Newcastle’s win against Burnley on Tuesday night was another crucial step to Premier League safety.
The Magpies have now won four home games on the bounce, three of which were against relegation rivals.
Rafa Benitez’s side have now opened a game between themselves and the bottom three. We are by no means safe, but now we can start to play with some freedom.
On course to survive comfortably again
For most of the season, we’ve been under pressure and always looking up the table rather than down. Notably in the early weeks, we were locked in the bottom three, hoping a gap didn’t open up.
We entered the relegation zone of September 1st, and didn’t get out of the bottom three until November 3rd.
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Now the roles are reversed, and we are the ones trying to open the gap. The win against Burnley lifted us to 13th place, six points clear of Cardiff in 18th.
Last season, we won a crucial double header against Southampton and Huddersfield in March. Both sides were fighting to survive, but as always Benitez found a way to beat the teams around us.
That win didn’t mathematically confirm safety, but it relieved the pressure, and that’s exactly what the win against Burnley did.
We can now go into games with a bit more self-belief. We don’t need to defend for our lives and scrap for a point, we can actually go at teams and see how many points we can get.
Last time we played West Ham, we came crashing back down to earth after three successive wins. But back then, the pressure was still on.
It will be interesting to see how the players approach this clash with the Hammers. They have nothing to fear, and should believe they can take three points from the capital.