Newcastle United’s Premier League safety hopes have already been improving for several months, but they’ve now been handed a huge slice of luck in the relegation fight.
Several postponed Premier League matches have now been rescheduled for the next few weeks, creating some particularly tough double fixture periods for struggling teams.
Newcastle meanwhile have a completely unaffected match schedule, meaning if they can take advantage, safety could be all but certain in the next few weeks.
The FA Cup successes of Premier League teams this year has created a large backlog of matches still to be played.
Several teams now have a lot of fixtures to be played in very little time.
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Two teams to have suffered in particular are Cardiff and Brighton, who currently sit in 18th and 15th place.
Rescheduling has meant Brighton now play six PL matches in the next four weeks, as well as an FA Cup semi-final next weekend.
Cardiff have also been desperately unlucky, as they have had two matches rescheduled due to an opponent playing in a cup competition.
The Welsh side now play four times in the next three weeks.
The fast turnaround of these games means that on two occasions they will get just two days of match preparation.
There’s question marks over whether these teams have the squad depth to survive such gruelling periods.
With Cardiff in particular being a good seven points behind Newcastle, this could be what ends their fight.
Cardiff’s gruelling double fixtures
Not only do Cardiff now face three weeks of fast turnaround fixtures, but they also face very tough teams.
This Sunday Cardiff play Chelsea at home, a game they lost 4-1 in the reverse fixture.
Then just three days later on Wednesday 3rd of April, they play league challengers Man City at the Etihad.
It’s fair to say even a point in either of these fixtures would be a fantastic result.
The Bluebirds are then afforded a week off before facing Burnley and Brighton, again just three days apart on 13th and 16th April.
The Cardiff Burnley game may well prove to be the most important in terms of relegation.
The Clarets currently have just two more points than Cardiff, meaning this match is crucial for Cardiff’s survival.
Cardiff also still have Liverpool and Man United to play after this heavy period, meaning their outlook is pretty grim.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have a very positive upcoming fixture list.
Newcastle upcoming matches
In their remaining seven matches, the Toon will only play two of the top six.
The Magpies face Arsenal this weekend and will play Liverpool on the penultimate game of the season.
But outside of those, the Toon will play four of the bottom six as well as 10th placed Leicester.
Newcastle’s lack of double fixture weeks means they will also be less prone to fitness issues or insufficient match prep.
Football is a strange game and nothing is certain, but Newcastle have been given a huge safety boost here.