Will Newcastle United avoid relegation?
(Photo by OLI SCARFF via Getty Images)

It’s a new year, but the same old problems remain at Newcastle United. Eddie Howe’s depleted side are languishing in a relegation dogfight and in need of a miracle. 

Due to Covid-19 cases and notable injuries to Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson, The Magpies are down to the bare bones and had no choice but to request their matches against Everton and Southampton over the festive period were postponed. 

Fortunately for Newcastle, the January transfer window has arrived at a perfect time and all eyes will be on the new owners to see how much money they spend and if they can attract the right players to St James' Park, as this could prove to be a pivotal moment in the clubs history whether the black-and-whites can avoid a third relegation in 12 years.

According to data compiled by football analyst Ben Mayhew, who has published his annual combined league table on his website Experimental 3-6-1 looking at points won per game between Premier League and EFL sides in league matches only and not including point deductions, it makes for disturbing reading for Newcastle fans.

Of all the 92 clubs in the top four divisions, The Magpies were the second-worst side in 2021 with a points per game of 0.88 with fellow relegation strugglers Burnley at the bottom with 0.87.   

In contrast in 2020, Newcastle were ranked 71st with a points per game of 1.15 ahead of the likes of Brighton (0.91) and Crystal Palace (1.03), but it further highlights how it's clear that signings are severely needed on Tyneside to give themselves a fighting chance of survival. 

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  • A busy transfer window is expected, but will Newcastle spend their money wisely? 

This is the first transfer window since the Saudi-backed consortium completed their takeover of the club in October 2021 and made The Magpies the richest club in world football. 

Understandably, there is a lot of pressure this month on the hierarchy in getting the correct business done given the clubs current league position. They also need to provide the funds to strengthen the squad with a number of positions needing urgent reinforcements and Howe will be keen on bringing in players who have the experience of playing in the top-flight. 

Despite being second bottom in the table with just one win to their name this season, Newcastle have been linked with everyone in the winter window, but there are targets that are more realistic than others. 

Rumours suggest that Kieran Trippier could arrive from Atletico Madrid as early as next week, which would not only be a statement of intent from the new owners but a stellar first signing.  

Other names to have been heavily linked with a move to the North East include Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, Juventus' Aaron Ramsey, Burnley's James Tarkowski, LOSC Lille's Sven Botman and former Magpie Georginio Wijnaldum, who scored 11 times and provided five assists during his only season at St James' Park in the 2015/16 campaign. 

Though with their top goalscorer Wilson going off injured in the 1-1 draw against The Red Devils and is likely to be out for a few months with a suspected torn calf muscle, it begs the question which striker will The Magpies have lined up as a replacement for a crucial second half of the season. 

Whoever they turn to, it needs to be someone who can hit the ground running, but if Howe's side are to survive at the end of the season, this transfer window might possibly be the deciding factor in how their fate is decided.   

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  • Which teams are in the mix battling for safety and can The Magpies escape the drop?

It looks like the battle to stay up will be contested by five sides, Leeds United, Watford, Burnley, Newcastle and Norwich City. But who will survive? 

Leeds are currently in 16th and are eight points above the relegation zone, but have failed to build on last season's stunning ninth-place finish and it's largely due to key injuries to midfield maestro Kalvin Phillips and talisman Patrick Bamford, who were both instrumental to a successful first season back in the top-flight since 2004, but they've struggled to replicate the form without the duo.  

As one of three newly-promoted sides, Watford probably expected to be in a relegation tussle at the start of the season, though the main concern for Claudio Ranieri's side is they remain the only side yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League and have lost their last six consecutive matches. 

Burnley sit just above Newcastle with a much better goal difference and have two games in hand, but their only win so far was back in October and with their next four games against Leicester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, it's going to be difficult to see The Clarets move out of the bottom three anytime soon. 

Last season's EFL Championship winners Norwich are struggling to adjust to life in the top-flight as they currently rooted to the bottom of the table with 10 points and a -34 goal difference, but despite their precarious position they are only three points from safety, though it will take an extraordinary effort from Dean Smith's side if they are to pull off a great escape. 

As for Newcastle, after a tough run of games over December, The Toon Army weathered the storm and are only two points off safety, with favourable fixtures to come this month against relegation rivals in The Hornets at home followed by a trip to Elland Road, so they will fancy their chances in securing back-to-back wins with the help of potentially some new faces in the squad. 

Now that The Magpies have made it to the halfway point of the season and they are not cut adrift, it's got to be seen as a sign that survival can be achieved with the right mindset. 

With another 19 matches remaining, there's still plenty of twists and turns to follow and in the Premier League, anything can happen.  

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