Entrenched up to their necks in relegation sludge, it seems only a miracle will save Newcastle United’s Premier League life as a gooey demise looms.
With a half-dozen games remaining, the Magpies must first close a six-point gap to Norwich City in 17th before they can think about getting out of the bottom three and, if that wasn’t tough enough, they have to do it in the face of a rather unfavourable fixture card.
Having picked up just one point from four games under one of football’s finest coaches, Rafa Benitez, the Magpies need six wins or something mighty close to it if they are to survive, but looking at the games to go, the 16/1 about them losing the lot is not without appeal.
Left to play are Swansea City (h), Manchester City (h), Liverpool (a), Crystal Palace (h), Aston Villa (a) and Tottenham Hotspur (h).
Newcastle have never won a Premier League home game against the in-form Swans in four attempts, while they’ve lost six of seven renewals since the start of 2012/13.
Their prospects of snapping that streak have been dampened by the fact the south Wales side have won four and drawn one in the six outings preceding their trip to Tyneside.
No team in the Premier League has a better record against bottom-half dwellers than Man City, who have won 15 and drawn three of their 18 matches against those lying below the divisional equator. They’ve also scored 11 in their previous two duels with the Toon.
Three draws are all Newcastle have to show from their league trips to Anfield since the 1993/94 campaign so there’s little hope for a good result at Liverpool.
The last time Newcastle played Crystal Palace, the Eagles won 5-1, while Spurs have left St James’ Park with nothing just once this decade.
So, with five defeats accounted for, Aston Villa’s trip to the north east could feasibly be the match where our 16/1 shot comes unstuck.
But the hapless Villans will have been put out of their relegation misery by then and, playing unshackled from pressure, they may cause an upset against a Toon side nervously waiting for the executioner’s axe to fall.