With April around the corner, the finishing line is in sight for teams up and down the country. For Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield the prize at the end is a place in the biggest league in the world. However, with there only being two automatic slots, someone will fall.
1) Newcastle 78 points
It’s in Newcastle hands as United approach their final eight games. To be fair to Newcastle, it’s a tough run in littered with banana skins which United have been all too willing to slip on so far. This won’t be easy for Rafa Benitez’s men. The run in begins at home to Wigan. Wigan have been languishing in the relegation places for most of the season.This would be a perfect for United to put behind their woeful home form behind them. However, there will be an element of doubt at St.James. Blackburn, another side who have struggled, managed a double against United. So United will need to be on their guard, however, I would fancy them to win.
The Wigan game is quickly followed by the visit of Burton. This game has warning signs all over it. These games are where experience comes in handy. Benitez has this in abundance, even so, this may be a difficult game for United. With Burton fighting the drop, this could be a defeat in a game in which United will be heavily favoured. Newcastle have fluffed their lines up at home too many time this season to side such as Burton. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen again.
United will then travel to Sheffield Wednesday followed by a Good Friday clash against Leeds at home. Two promotion hopefuls will prove tricky opposition. However, United have only been beaten twice by sides in the top six. I would expect at Hillsborough, United will set up similar to the Huddersfield and Brighton victories. The Leeds game could be difficult however I’d back United on what could be a noisy day at St. James. Victories here could give United the momentum needed.
The Final Four
At the time of writing, Ipswich are just five points off the drop zone. If Ipswich’s form upturns, this would make this a far easier trip to Suffolk. However, if McCarthy’s side still continue to struggle, United will find it difficult. Middle table sides with nothing to play for are what top aides want at this stage. However, United have precious few of these type of games. Newcastle will have to get on with it and hope their talent prevails.
Preston at home follows this which sees another side who may be fighting for a play off spot. Preston came close to getting something against United at Deepdale. United will be hoping for a similar result to that of the one in the League Cup earlier. The 6-0 victory one of United’s finest of the season. United follow this up with an away game at middle table Cardiff. You would expect United to win this. United face another mid table side in Barnsley in their final game. Hopefully, this will be followed with a trophy presentation.
The final two games for United are as good as it gets for Newcastle in a tough run in. However, you would still expect United to fulfil their ambition of achieving their goal of promotion.
Feature image credit: Martin Le Roy