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How do the Remaining Fixtures Affect Newcastle’s European Hopes?

After yesterday's FA Cup semi-final result - courtesy of former Toon striker Andy Carroll - European football next season is within arm's length. In fact, now that sixth place guarantees a Europa League qualification place - which wouldn't have been the case had Everton won - Europa League football is pretty much inevitable.


Currently sitting fifth and level on points with Spurs in fourth, though, Newcastle should look to move for something bigger and better – a place in the Champions League.

But just how realistic would this target be for Newcastle?

The points situation clearly says that Champions League football is realistic, and mathematically, third place is even possible, but the remaining schedule for Newcastle and their rivals may disagree.

Let’s take a look a the remaining fixtures for Newcastle, along with those for Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea:

Newcastle United

  • Stoke City (H)
  • Wigan Athletic (A)
  • Chelsea (A)
  • Manchester City (H)
  • Everton (A)
Newcastle’s final three games are probably the toughest of all the teams on this list. With their current form, they certainly have the capability to win one or two of those three, but its certainly not a given that they will. Chelsea and Everton will be looking to fight for a Europa League place when the Toon face them, and Manchester City, besides being a great team, will have the extra motivation of still being in the title hunt to make that fixture almost impossible for us. On the bright side, though you can take no fixtures for granted, Newcastle have two pretty easy games to keep the win-streak going before they enter that tough period.

Arsenal

  • Wigan Athletic (H)
  • Chelsea (H)
  • Stoke City (A)
  • Norwich (H)
  • West Bromwich Albion (A)
Arsenal have a pretty average schedule, facing a bunch of average teams who may surprise them, but, really, shouldn’t give them too much of a scare. Avoiding any major slip-ups, Champions League football is almost a certainty.

Tottenham Hotspur

  • Queens Park Rangers (A)
  • Blackburn Rovers (H)
  • Bolton Wanderers (A)
  • Aston Villa (A)
  • Fulham (H)
Spurs have no particularly great teams to face in their final few fixtures, which could vault them into third at season’s end. What they do face, though, is a number of teams who’ll be in and around the bottom three by the time they face them, and this could potentially cause a slip-up, due to the extra motivation for these teams to win. This is the team that will realistically have to fall out of the top 4 for Newcastle to get in, so we can only hope that the likes of Fulham and Villa do us a big favour.

Chelsea

  • Arsenal (A)
  • QPR (H)
  • Newcastle United (H)
  • Liverpool (A)
  • Blackburn Rovers (H)

Coupled with their two-legged Champions League tie with Barcelona of all teams, Chelsea’s run-in is going to be incredibly hard. As we know, ourselves and Arsenal are very tough opponents, and Liverpool always have the potential to be a tough out at Anfield, especially considering their squad. Beyond that, Blackburn will be fighting for their lives on the last day of the season, making that a tough game, and the only easily-winnable game is the home QPR fixture. Looking at this, I can’t see Chelsea ending up with anything more than a Europa League place, unless they do the unthinkable and fight on to win the Champions League itself.

So, overall, things don’t look that great. We should be able to keep Chelsea at bay to finish fifth, but the Champions League won’t be so easy to get into. Still, though, if you had told any Geordie before the season that we’d finish off fifth, every single one of them would have taken it with open arms. And, hey, with the form we’re in, we could just shock a team like Man City to bolster our chances.

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