Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Midweek Premier League Madness: Newcastle battles for key point in relegation battle

Newcastle 1-1 Manchester City
Manchester City has seen their Champions League chances receive a boost at the expense of Arsenal's failings. This trip to relegation bound Newcastle was a good time to get another big three points in their pursuit of Europe. They got off to the right start with some controversy and a milestone. Sergio Aguero headed home the opening goal in the 14th minute, which would be his 100th career Premier League goal. However, the Newcastle protests after the goal were valid, Aguero was offside upon receiving he aerial ball.

Rafa Benitez would be able to rally his troops past that injustice, though. The Newcastle fight would not allow them to be down and out, however. They got their equalizer in the 31st minute from Vernun Anita. Anita collected a ball from Moussa Sissoko, cut inside and blasted a shot home beyond a helpless Joe Hart.

In the second half, Newcastle refused to go away quietly. Their determination in their quest to avoid relegation looked to be stronger than the Manchester City fight for a stronger position in Europe. They had several chances, but were foiled by a sense of individualism and lack of teamwork. Every break they had seemed to be overcome with one player ignoring his teammates and trying to get the entire task done on his own. It probably cost them a legitimate chance to win the match, in the end.

City's chances were not much better, though and the two settled for a single point each when the final whistle blew.

The Newcastle fight was quite admirable here. They were heavy underdogs against one of the best the Premier League has to offer tonight, and it appears that after a couple games of turmoil, Rafa Benitez is finally beginning to have an impact on this troubled club. Regardless of the point, Newcastle are still in the drop zone. They are in 19th place, a point behind Sunderland for 18th and two back of Norwich for the first safe spot in the table. They have four matches left to save themselves:

Liverpool (A)
Crystal Palace (H)
Aston Villa (A)
Tottenham (H)

As is the case for any relegation warrior, the road will not be easy. A tough trip to Anfield and the finale against title challenging Spurs at home will be the tougher two matches. Wins at home against Crystal Palace and away to Villa are not difficult to imagine, though. As expected, some help from Norwich and Sunderland will also help their cause.

Manchester City only stretch their lead to one point over fourth place Arsenal and five over fifth place Manchester United. They should still hold onto a Champions League place. Their four remaining league matches are as follows:

Stoke City (H)
Southampton (A)
Arsenal (H)
Swansea City (A)

The Arsenal match at the Etihad Stadium will be the key match here. Wins in the other three probably won't be tough to come back, but with the Gunners holding a match in hand on Thursday, they can jump back in front of City and keep the pace right up until that penultimate game of the season. There is also the need to hold off Manchester United, but with this relatively simple ending to their campaign, it shouldn't be much trouble.

What can cause a little bit of a complication is the need to balance the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid. City will be all in on those two matches, as they should be, but that could cause a few tired legs that could case a draw in a match they should be winning.

Regardless, I expect them to see out the remainder of this season and qualify for the Champions League next season.

No comments:

Post a Comment