Newcastle bolster survival hopes with unbeaten run

Newcastle United's fine form continues to push them up the table

Peter Bath
11th March 2022
Image: @brunoog97
Victories for Newcastle over Southampton and Brighton look to have solidified their Premier League survival hopes.

The Magpies' 2-1 victory away to Southampton last Thursday night made it six wins from their last seven games at time of writing.

Initially, Stuart Armstrong's goal threatened to end Newcastle's winning run, but both Chris Wood and Bruno Guimaraes scored their first goals for the club to come back from behind.

Guimaraes' goal, on the January signing's first start for the club, was a particular highlight. An ingenious backheel flick proved to be the Brazilian flare needed to win at St Mary's. It is now nine games unbeaten in the Premier League for Newcastle, bringing them from the brink of relegation to a mid-table spot.

A 2-1 victory at home to Brighton last Saturday had already eased fears of the drop.

Early goals from Ryan Fraser and Fabian Schär were too much for Graham Potter’s men as Newcastle held out for a fifth win in their last six premier league games. Jacob Murphy undid the Seagulls’ defence on the break, his shot deflecting off the post for Ryan Fraser to tuck in. Two minutes later, Fraser whipped a perfect free kick into the box, which Schär headed in powerfully.

However, Newcastle weren’t as dominant as they have often been of late. After Dunk beat Newcastle keeper Dubravka in the air to head home a corner, the home side were left to cling onto their lead for most of the second half. Cling on they did, and three more vital points have brought them up towards a comfortable-ish mid-table spot.

The arrival of new ownership, Eddie Howe and a slew of January signings have brought a feel-good factor to St James’ park, and this has fed into results on the pitch. The Sports Direct signs which once loomed over the majestic ground are gone. Instead Brazilian flags in celebration of Joelinton and new signing Bruno Guimarães add welcome colour to the black and white sea of flags. Howe acknowledged the fans’ role in the team’s success, telling the BBC “I can’t thank the fans enough. The atmosphere on game days is incredible. The only disappointment is we haven’t got a home game in a while.”

Flags and good will only count for so much in a relegation battle, but Newcastle are now unbeaten in their last eight premier league fixtures, an incredible record. Although the appointment of Eddie Howe and a worrying relegation battle poured cold water on the unbridled excitement of the Toon Army, the former Bournemouth manager has turned things around and is proving himself the right man to steady the ship on the banks of the Tyne.

Magpies fan and Newcastle student Paige Rutter described the feeling: “I don’t think I’ve seen the club more electric than it is right now. The recent run of success has shown the transformation within the team. The credit has to go to Eddie Howe… This season didn’t start well but it has turned into an unforgettable one.”

Injuries to star men Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Kieran Trippier threatened to dampen the party atmosphere on Tyneside over winter, but the team’s momentum has persisted nonetheless.

One figure who has embodied the whole team’s resurgence is Joelinton. Once a laughing stock, he has impressed in a deeper midfield role this season, playing with a confidence and swagger once unimaginable when the £40 million Brazilian scored 2 in 38 league appearances in his first season on Tyneside. After Saturday’s win Howe had praise for him alongside Ryan Fraser, saying that “since I’ve come in he’s been magnificent for me.” Oren Brown, another fan at the university, put these improvements down to Howe: "With a coach who can bring the best out of previous under-performers such as Joelinton and Ryan Fraser, I'm not suprised Newcastle are turning things around."

By the time this goes to print, Newcastle will have faced one of their toughest challenges yet away to a strong Chelsea side on Sunday afternoon. Chelsea have returned to form in their last few games despite off-pitch turmoil, but they come up against a confident Magpies side who have nothing to lose. Whatever the outcome at Stamford Bridge, those results are not going to define Newcastle’s season. For now at least, survival is all that matters for Newcastle, and their recent wins have gone a long way towards that.

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