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Roker Report Relegation Run-In Predictions

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How are things going to pan out? We take a stab at trying to predict which of Norwich, Sunderland and Newcastle will be joining Aston Villa in the Championship.

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Norwich City – 24 points currently


Man City (H) WBA (A) NUFC (H) Palace (A) SAFC (H) Watford (H) Arsenal (A) MUFC (H) Everton (A)
@GRokerReport 0 1 1 0 3 1 0 0 0
@SAFCElvis 1 0 1 3 0 3 0 3 0
@DJRoberts22 0 1 3 1 3 3 0 0 0
@RoryFallow 0 0 1 1 0 3 0 1 0
@CalMackay90 0 0 3 1 1 1 0 1 0

@GRokerReport - 30 points:

If Norwich are going to stay up, they need to be safe by the time they play Watford, I feel.

I can’t see them getting anything off Manchester City, so you’d have to think they’ll need to take at least six points from the four proceeding games against West Brom, Newcastle, Palace and us. Are they capable of it?

They do have grafters in their team, which is certainly more than Newcastle have, but I’m not sure they have enough quality to take the required amount of points from the games they have left. For me, they’ll finish nineteenth, just above Aston Villa.

@SAFCElvis - 35 Points:

Norwich are a side full of grafters.  They all seem to give 100% during games but clearly lack the cutting edge quality that you need in the Premier League to win games regularly. I still fancy them to pick up big points from now until the end of the season though and it wouldn’t surprise me if they take a big scalp or two along the way.

I’m looking at you Manchester United. Louis Van Gaal’s men seem just the sort of side that would succumb to a team fighting for their survival.

@DJRoberts22 - 35 Points:

I have both Newcastle and Norwich picking up 35 points, but that's with both picking up the three points against us. Their run completely comes down to what teams turn up on the day.

If Watford are on form, I do doubt they will pick up anything, but this is Norwich and they have that ability to pick up results at home when they need to. I think for certain they'll beat Newcastle when they meet them, but if that was a draw, that would be a huge moment in the relegation battle for us. If they fail to pick up a meaningful points haul before their last three games of the season, they're as good as gone. Arsenal, Man United and Everton should, should being the key word here, pick up wins, but hey, relegation fights bring out the best in teams so who knows.

@RoryFallow - 32 Points:

Given their form, I just can't see where the points are going to come from for Norwich. The Canaries played some decent attacking football early in the season but their 6-2 defeat at Newcastle, in October, prompted Alex Neil to focus on defensive solidity - which has left them not quite knowing what kind of team they are. It's led to Norwich having an awful 2016 and Neil can't seem to come up with an answer to their problems, as their players don't seem to have any inspiration or fight in them.

They've chucked away good results from winning positions as well, such as their home defeat to Liverpool (5-4 after being 3-1 up) and their draw at home to West Ham (going 2-0 up in the second half and being lucky to come away with a 2-2 draw). 30 points, with only one win, is what i'm predicting for them, a total that is nowhere near enough but, sadly for them, matches their dismal play since the turn of the year.

@CalMackay90 - 31 Points:

When I look at these fixtures, it’s tough to see where Norwich’s next win is coming from. Even when they’re 2-0 up, you wouldn’t really back them to see the game out and win. Their defence tends to leaks goals, though their attack boasts some decent options. Naismith is their main goalscoring threat, but they’re still trying to find their best attacking combination.

Home games against Newcastle, Sunderland and Watford will be prioritised. While they can create chances and score goals, I just don’t see them keeping enough clean sheets to win games. The only game I think they’ll win is against Newcastle, mainly due to Newcastle’s appalling away form and inability to score goals, though Benitez’s arrival may remedy this problem too. I can see them getting a few draws and running teams close, with the game against Palace one they could sneak a win in. But I think Norwich will go down.

lkmlk

Newcastle United – 24 points currently


Man City (H) Leicester (A) SAFC (H) Norwich (A) Southampton (H) Swansea (H) Liverpool (A) Palace (H) Villa (A) Spurs (H)
@GRokerReport 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 3 1 0
@SAFCElvis 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 3 1 0
@DJRoberts22 1 0 3 0 0 1 0 3 3 0
@RoryFallow 0 0 1 1 0 3 0 3 3 0
@CalMackay90 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 3 0

@GRokerReport - 32 Points:

The sacking of Steve McClaren and the appointment of Rafael Benitez changes absolutely nothing, for me. It’s still the same squad of players that don’t want to be there, and Benitez will still have a challenging injury list to deal with.

What Newcastle need is a motivator that can grind out results. I’m not sure that Benitez is that man.

I feel they’ll go down with a few games to spare. They have to beat us and Norwich, and I don’t think they’ve got the bottle to do it – touch wood.

@SAFCElvis - 36 Points:

Rafa Benitez is a game changer and no matter which way you look at it, his capture is a coup for them down the road. There is a train of thought, which says he’s an organiser not a motivator. I can understand that view and you also have to appreciate the former Real Madrid coach is more used to dealing with players of the highest calibre rather than those languishing at the bottom of the Premier League. However, what is clear, is that Benitez is a name that will command respect from the Newcastle dressing room.

Steve McClaren descended into something of a joke figure during his time on Tyneside and the Mags will be taken more seriously now Benitez has arrived, I’m sure. He will also give the home crowd a lift, which may in turn garner patience from a disgruntled fanbase. When all is said and done though Benitez has the same players at his disposal as Steve McClaren did and it certainly won’t be an easy task to avoid relegation.

@DJRoberts22 - 35 Points:

I just know they're going to pick up something against Leicester and go in to our game flying. It's so blatantly obvious, it's unreal. One thing that does give me a little hope is their defence is still shite, even without the injuries.

Regardless of the manager change, it can't be fixed until the summer. The attacking options they do have, will they have the metal to dig deep and grind out results? For seasons after seasons, they, the full team, have had no bottle or heart, so they better hope Rafa can instil some fight in the next few games. Their home games against Palace and Swansea are massive, and are certainly the games where I think they'll pick up some points.

But, how good would it be for Pardew to relegate them?

@RoryFallow - 35 Points:

The appointment of Rafael Benitez does make Newcastle a little bit harder to predict. Yes they still have a poor defence and some players severely lacking in commitment but being freed from the wet blanket that was Steve McClaren could be enough for them. We know that kind of effect all to well after Paolo Di Canio and Dick Advocaat's mere fresh approach brought good performances out of poor players.

It'll be very interesting to see how Benitez does in a relegation battle - it's a very unfamiliar situation for a manager most associate with top European clubs. I can see Newcastle's players responding to a manager with a pedigree like his and I think it'll earn them some results.

One of  Newcastle's main issues under McClaren was losing the more "winnable" games, Benitez will grind out results in those in my opinion. It may not work out but Newcastle are no longer a total write off and I predict them to achieve 35 points beating the likes of Swansea, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

@CalMackay90 - 31 Points:

Benitez will have to address Newcastle’s defensive frailties if they have any chance of staying up. They can’t get much worse in this department, but whether he can improve them enough to survive is another matter. Benitez has an excellent reputation, but preparing for and winning games at the bottom of the league is a different kind of pressure to working with elite players near the top of the league. Benitez is said to be standoffish with players and prefers zonal marking, which would be a risky adjustment for a team struggling to defend in a man to man system.

The success of Newcastle’s defensive improvement and ultimately whether they survive will depend on Chancel Mbemba staying fit for the run in. I can see them winning against Palace at home and Villa away, but their away form is so poor I cannot see them beating Leicester, Southampton or Liverpool. Norwich is exactly the kind of high pressure match Newcastle can’t deal with, while there are tough home games against Manchester City and Spurs. They have the quality in midfield and attack to survive, but it depends on whether Benitez can fix the defence and how quickly the players respond to Benitez’s style and ideas, if at all. He has his work cut out.

lkmn

Sunderland – 25 points currently


Everton (H) NUFC (A) WBA (H) Leicester (H) Norwich (A) Arsenal (H) Stoke (A) Chelsea (H) Watford (A)
@GRokerReport 3 3 3 0 0 0 1 0 1
@SAFCElvis 3 1 3 0 3 1 1 0 0
@DJRoberts22 1 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 1
@RoryFallow 3 1 3 0 3 0 0 0 1
@CalMackay90 1 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 1

@GRokerReport - 36 Points:

We don’t know when the Everton game will be played but I really think they are the type of side we might beat at home. I feel our survival hinges on whether or not we beat Newcastle and West Brom.

We never get anything away at Norwich and don’t expect that to change any time soon.

A point at Stoke and Watford would be good results, considering both teams are decent at home.

I’ve seen enough to suggest we’ll pick up points against teams we are perhaps not expected to do so. I feel we’ve got more about us than Newcastle and Norwich, and I think we’ll finish the season on 36 points, just shy of Big Sam’s thirty-eight point target.

@SAFCElvis - 37 Points:

I feel we’re likely to continue to sporadically pick up points from now until the end of the season. However I don’t fee like we’ll go on a run of games in the way we’ve done in past seasons.

Norwich has always been a difficult place for us to visit but I fancy us to nick a win this time around. The game in hand will be huge for us. If we can still be ahead of the pack with that Everton game still to be played it should be a huge psychological boost for us.

Personally, I don’t see us getting ‘7’ in a row given the Benitez bounce but can’t bring myself to say we’ll get beat either. Therefore the derby will a nervous tense affair and might even be decided by a late goal. All in all, a smattering of points that will hopefully see us over the line.

@DJRoberts22 - 31 Points:

I'm not sure if I'm being pessimistic with my choices, or I'm just being sensible because I know what we're like.

I think, for some odd reason, we'd get something against Everton whenever we do play them due to their fatigue. After Benitez joining them, I know they're going to do what we do and pick up the win and find some momentum. We never beat Norwich away too, so, I think that's us losing both six-pointers, leaving us fucked. I think, looking at our remaining games, we need to obviously avoid defeat in both of those games, but also find points against Stoke, West Brom and Watford?

Can we do it? We'll see, but under Allardyce and a inform Defoe, we certainly have a chance. Fingers crossed.

@RoryFallow - 36 Points:

One thing Sunderland have been fairly efficient at since Sam Allardyce's arrival is their ability to take points from games they'd be expected to. I've taken that into consideration with my predictions which gives us wins over Everton and West Brom at home and Norwich away.

Given that we're quite good at scoring goals this season, I can see us just coming out on top in a high scoring game against Everton, whilst playing out a tough 1-0 over WBA. However, the Tyne-Wear derby will be quite cagey affair with neither side wanting to give much away and whilst one side winning by the odd goal wouldn't be too much of a shock, I think a low scoring draw is more likely.

Defeats against Leicester, Stoke, Chelsea and Arsenal are quite predictable but I see us nicking at least a point off Watford on the last day of the season, with the Hornets having nothing to play for. If it plays out like this we'll earn 36 points.

@CalMackay90: 34 Points:

I think we have the best chance of anyone to stay up. We have a good team spirit, we are becoming difficult to beat, our defence is improving, we have a goalscorer, a solid and creative midfield and a manager who knows the bottom of the Premier League. I don’t think we should be shy in saying we have stronger teams than Norwich and Newcastle and we are definitely showing the better form and spirit.

Making us first and foremost tough to beat has been Allardyce’s intention since he arrived and that has been evident in recent weeks. For this reason, I think we can beat Newcastle away. We are mentally strong and positive, with the pressure all on Newcastle. Even if Newcastle take the lead, I can see us staying focused and rallying to win.

A further win at home to West Brom, a few draws and avoiding defeat against Norwich should see us to safety.

Summary

@GRokerReport:

It’s going to be incredibly tight, and the fact that Newcastle have had a change of manager may well be the boost that they need to survive, but I remain unconvinced. Their players are the issue, and as bad as McClaren was, his squad just didn’t look up for a fight.

Can Benitez change that mentality in such a short space? Time will tell. His most difficult/important spell of fixtures are the three that he has coming up, so he has absolutely no time to adjust and needs results immediately.

Norwich are in an incredibly bad spell of form, and with Manchester City next up I just don’t see them having enough to scrape by. They’ll most certainly beat us at Carrow Road because they always do, but that run of games at the end that they have – against Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton – is brutal.

I’m not being biased when I say I think Sunderland will stay up on thirty-six. I look at the size of the task that all three teams face and I feel from what I’ve seen that we have probably the best chance of staving off relegation yet again.

@SAFCElvis:

Rafa Benitez has changed the dynamic of the relegation run in. Under Steve McClaren, Newcastle were frankly going down. They still might of course but by making the change now, with 10 games remaining, Ashley may just have given his club a fighting chance.

It’s possible both Newcastle and Sunderland may secure the same points come May 15th. Unfortunately it might be that close. I also feel that all teams in scope of relegation will pick up points along the way. I can’t see any of the teams mentioned above simply collapsing in Aston Villa fashion. My prediction is that we’ll finish on 37 points.

@DJRoberts22:

It's fair to say my arse has started to twitch, and that started well before McClaren was sent on his merry way. We've ran out luck so much over the last few years and now, when we've got players I actually like, I think we might actually drop. Typical really.

Anyway, in my right-arse stage of worry, I've complete avoided looking at who has who, and what I think they'll get, so this is the first time I've sat down and reviewed the remaining games. Dependent on how we fare against our relegation rivals, we can either find a nice points gap to help our nerves or effectively relegate ourselves by failing to pick up any points in those games.

Looking at the managers, I think Allardyce is probably the best man out of the three to secure survival, so we have that plus going for us, and we have a striker bang in form so we know we're going to score goals which is crucial. If we can settle our nerves, defend better and avoid defeat, I'll have us finishing ahead of both The Mags and Canaries. However, in my gut, I have the horrible feeling that it'll be a case of Sunderland being Sunderland, and come the end of the season, we'll be one of the teams to drop.

Let's hope I'm wrong.

@RoryFallow:

I have us just pipping Newcastle to survival by one point and I really do think it'll be that close between us both. I can't see Norwich coming so close given their fixtures and form so it looks like a two horse race for 17th place.

The most crucial part of the relegation battle is the games Sunderland, Newcastle and Norwich all have against each other. If it does play out like I predicted and Sunderland take four points, Newcastle take two and Norwich take one then we would really only have ourselves to blame if we somehow managed to go down. Whoever takes the most points from that mini league will be the one to stay up.

There's always twists, turns and shock results though, Sunderland know that better than anybody, and there's no doubt that our predictions will look daft in some way when Newcastle turn Spurs over and Sunderland derail Leicester's title challenge. Being as objective as I can be though, I see our current points total being to our advantage as we just about cling on to our place in the Premier League. Again.

@CalMackay90:

The form of Newcastle and Norwich has been so poor in the last ten games, I don’t think we can expect them to be as bad over the next nine or ten games. However, I do not think either will improve sufficiently to stay up.

Any of these three can stay up if they manage to fix their defences, as it is no coincidence that the four worst defences are the bottom four in the league. I cannot see Norwich’s defence improving to provide the platform to win sufficient games. While they have the ability to create and score, they probably need to score three in a game to win which I don’t think they can do.

Benitez’s success has been under significantly different circumstances and it will be interesting to see how he copes. I think Benitez will improve Newcastle slightly, but with injury problems and a lack of defensive quality and depth, not to mention the attitude of some players, it will be tough for them to survive.

I think we have the better team, better spirit, better manager for this situation and we are tough to beat. Also to our advantage, our defence is showing the clear improvement that Norwich and Newcastle are not, though clean sheets have been hard to come by. We have a proven goalscorer, good creativity, Borini is coming in to form and our midfield is gelling nicely. I think we are best placed for survival.

What do you think? Leave your comments below this article.