Toon Look For Third Double Over Relegation Candidates

Last updated : 10 January 2018 By Footy Mad - Editor

Image result for Newcastle United v Swansea

Newcastle United and Swansea City face a huge relegation clash at St James’ Park this weekend - but so too do the majority of the teams in the bottom half of the Premier League table.

After a weekend hiatus for the FA Cup third round, the Premier League returns with a round of fixtures which could prove crucial to helping determine the final survival battle.

Just five points separate nine teams placed between 10th and 18th, while the bottom two sides need to ensure they are not cut further adrift from safety.

Benitez is looking to continue the Magpies’ excellent form against their relegation rivals - with Newcastle currently leading the ‘bottom-half table’.

United have already done the double over both Stoke City and West Ham United this season, and they can also defeat the Swans for the second time this term.

Bottom-of-the-table Swansea have recently appointed Carlos Carvalhal and risk being cut adrift of safety is they do not secure a win.

It is crucial Newcastle improve upon their recent home form - they have secured just one draw and recorded five defeats in their last six league games on Tyneside - and United need a positive result due to the fact some of their relegation rivals are guaranteed to pick up points themselves.

Crystal Palace vs Burnley (Saturday, 3pm)

The Clarets have been one of the Premier League’s surprise packages this term, but Roy Hodgson and Palace will be confident of claiming another home victory this weekend.

The foundations of the Eagles’ revival has been their form at Selhurst Park, with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend in particular leading their resurgence.

Palace are currently below Newcastle on goal difference alone, but United will likely need to win if they want to remain ahead of the Eagles after this weekend.

Huddersfield Town vs West Ham United (Saturday, 3pm)

The Terriers enjoyed an excellent first half of the season back in the top flight, but they now find themselves just four points above the drop zone.

West Ham, meanwhile, are level on points with Newcastle following their draw with Tottenham Hotspur - though, in general, the east Londoners have struggled away from home.

A draw appears a likely result in this one but, if either side can record a win, they will probably ensure they pull more than three points clear of the bottom three in the process.

West Bromwich Albion vs Brighton and Hove Albion (Saturday, 3pm)

This is a clichéd must-win game for Alan Pardew and West Brom, there is no doubt about that.

The former Magpies manager secured his first win as Baggies boss in the FA Cup over the weekend but, after eight league games into his role at The Hawthorns, he is yet to enjoy a ‘new manager bounce’.

West Brom are already four points adrift of safety - ironically, Pardew’s former club Newcastle can do the Baggies a favour by defeating basement-boys Swansea and ensuring the Baggies do not sink to the bottom - and they must target home matches against their rivals.

Brighton are 12th, one point ahead of Newcastle, and Chris Hughton will head to the West Midlands believing he can record a positive result on the road with the Seagulls. A draw appears likely, particularly given that West Brom has not won a league match since August.

Watford vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)

It seems a long time ago now that Everton were offering huge money for Marco Silva, with Watford - who started the season extremely well - now just five points above the drop zone.

That is still a reasonable buffer but one team tends to plummet into the relegation fight every season, and 10th-placed Watford appear in serious risk of being that side this term.

Southampton, meanwhile, are in turmoil, with a section of their supporters calling for Mauricio Pellegrino to be sacked even though the Saints won their FA Cup third-round tie at the weekend.

Neither side is in any sort of form, so a draw appears a likely prediction, but another defeat for the Saints could yet spell the end for Pellegrino if other results go against Southampton too.

AFC Bournemouth vs Arsenal (Sunday, 1.30pm)

Alongside Newcastle, Bournemouth are the only side in the bottom half who are yet to change their manager this season.

Eddie Howe has taken the Cherries up through the divisions, and Bournemouth appear convinced he remains the man to lead the south-coast club to safety this term - even if his team simply cannot pull clear of the relegation zone.

The 16th-placed Cherries host Arsenal on Sunday and, with the Gunners having struggled on their travels this season, Bournemouth will believe they can record a victory which could turn their campaign around.

Manchester United vs Stoke City (Monday, 8pm)

The post-Mark Hughes era begins this weekend and, as things stands, the Potters have yet to appoint a permanent successor to the Welshman.

Defeats to Newcastle and then to Coventry City in the FA Cup spelled the end for Hughes - but, if Stoke do name a manager this week, then they will face a very difficult first game in charge at Old Trafford.

The Potters have already conceded a league-high 47 goals this season and are third-from-bottom, a position which appears unlikely to change this weekend - unless a new manager can produce one of the shocks of the Premier League season to breathe new life into Stoke’s campaign.