Nottingham Forest face what appears an impossible task on Friday night after four games without a win against the likes of Derby, Preston, Wolves and Huddersfield. Boxing Day's 2-1 defeat to the Terriers further increased pressure on Forest boss Philippe Montanier.
How they've fared so far
After another poor defeat to Huddersfield last time out, Forest slipped another place to 18th in the Championship league table as they look to desperately find some form and drag themselves away from the relegation zone.
Any faint hopes Forest fans had of a revival and potential push for the play-offs now look over as they find themselves 14 points off. The defeat at Huddersfield was even more disappointing due to the fact that Forest were leading at half-time. This was something wasn't the case in the previous three games before that. However, Forest still collapsed in the second-half and gifted the Terriers all three points.
Forest still find themselves six points clear of the relegation zone, the same gap as before the Huddersfield defeat. Despite this, due to their poor run of form, they are well in a relegation battle and desperately need to pick up points and quickly.
This is of course easier said than done for Forest manager Philippe Montanier. Forest are having to deal with a whole host of injuries to key players such as Henri Lansbury, Daniel Pinillos, Matty Fryatt, Chris Cohen and more. Britt Assombalonga is still way off full fitness after getting half an hour under his belt at the John Smiths Stadium.
As for Newcastle United, they are flying high at the top of the Championship table. This was expected of them in pre-season as they spent big to bring in the likes of Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and others aswell as maintaining Rafael Benitez as manager.
However, they did suffer a slight blip on Boxing Day after three consecutive victories as they lost 1-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday. Loovens' header was enough to secure the Owls all three points in what was a disappointing performance by Newcastle.
This result and the fact that they have already beaten Newcastle once this season, may give Forest hope that they can get a result on Friday night. However, Benitez will expect a response both to Boxing Day's defeat and the previous meeting with Forest. This could make it a very intimidating trip for the away side.
Last time they met
Forest last played Newcastle in a 2-1 win at The City Ground back at the begining of this month. A late own goal from Jamaal Lascelles secured a third straight victory for Forest in a game which saw the Reds miss two penalties and Jonjo Shelvey and Paul Dummett both sent off for Newcastle.
Remarkably, Forest have failed to win any of their matches since this match in early December. Due to the controversial fashion of the result, Newcastle are bound to want revenge which could be bad news for Forest and manager Philippe Montanier.
Newcastle United will remain without their key midfielder Jonjo Shelvey as he continues to serve out his five match suspension. He was replaced by Jack Colback last time out in the middle of the park.
Benitez is likely to stick with a similar team as he will be looking for a response after what was a very poor performance against Sheffield Wednesday.
This means that Forest are likely to face the usual suspects of Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Gouffran, Diame, Gayle and so on.
As for Forest, Montanier will be hoping Britt Assombalonga may be fit enough to start after getting half an hour under his belt on Boxing Day.
Ben Osborn came off with an injury in the same fixture but it is hoped that he will be fit enough to still play a part at St James' Park.
Montanier is still having to deal with a lenghty injury list including the likes of Chris Cohen, Daniel Pinillos, Matty Fryatt, Armand Traore, Danny Fox, Henri Lansbury and more.