Newcastle United’s Premier League survival has been left hanging by a thread as they were humbled 3-0 against Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Saturday night.
In their big relegation 6 pointer, both sides needed a win to widen the gap between themselves and the bottom three. In spite of back-to-back Premier League defeats, Fulham are looking stronger by the week, so victory was imperative for Steve Bruce’s side. In the reverse fixture earlier this season, the Magpies lost 0-3 at St James’ Park. But with Brighton only having one win at home this season, there was always a chance Newcastle could snatch more than just a point against Graham Potter’s Seagulls.
That was the idea until kick-off however. From the get go Brighton dominated the visitors, recording nearly three times as many passes in the first half as Newcastle could manage, and having the majority of the possession too. Some strong saves from Martin Dubravka was the only thing keeping Brighton from taking the lead in the first half, as Newcastle once more relied upon their goalkeeper to keep themselves from being overwhelmed by their far more impressive opposition. 30 minutes gone, zero shots on target for the Toon.
With Newcastle already blighted by injuries to Allan Saint-Maximin, Callum Wilson, and Fabian Schar, another unwelcome addition was made to the injured list, as Isaac Hayden was forced off on a stretcher after a clash with Yves Bissouma. With more minutes subsequently added on, Newcastle’s luck turned from bad to worse, as a sensational strike from Leandro Trossard from outside the box and into the bottom corner gave the hosts a much deserved lead. 45 minutes gone, zero shots on target for the Toon.
Disaster struck even harder in the second half, as Danny Welbeck and Neal Maupay also found themselves on the scoresheet with phenomenal efforts. Three goals and three points for Brighton as they closed out a well-deserved win with relative ease. Newcastle meanwhile were left to hang their heads in shame, as for another time this season (and once again against Brighton) they failed to record a single shot on target in 90 minutes of a Premier League game.
Not even with prime Alan Shearer, not even with Lionel Messi, not even with Robert Lewandowski, not even with the all three of those players in attack could Newcastle muster up a shot on target under Steve Bruce’s management and tactics. For much of this season, Brighton’s style of play and quality of football has been lauded, but their poor presence in front of goal has hindered their progress this season. Tonight’s game showcased exactly how dangerous Brighton could be in the Premier League. If they do survive this season, they’re perhaps one signing away from being a serious threat of breaking into the top half of the table.
Newcastle meanwhile deserve to be relegated off tonight’s performance alone. Miguel Almiron was rushed back from injury in the hopes he could change the game: the Paraguayan, as magic as he may seem on the pitch, could not even begin to complete that challenge. The aforementioned Dubrakva was left to pick the ball out of his own net far too often, despite his all round good performance. Ryan Fraser, Joelinton, and substitute Jeff Hendrick will all be questioned as to why they are still being given hours upon hours of gametime by Steve Bruce ahead of the likes of Andy Carroll (a potentially valuable aerial threat with as many Premier League goals as Joelinton in the 20/21 campaign) or Matty Longstaff.
With 2 wins (against Everton and Southampton) in their last 20 Premier League games, Newcastle have just entered into a very scary scenario. They must now outperform Fulham to survive this season, or be condemned to their 3rd relegation in just over a decade. Many fans have become resigned to a fate they see as inevitable, but others will question why Steve Bruce has not yet been sacked by Mike Ashley?
As we all know, there is a clause in Bruce’s contract that guarantees the ‘Local Lad’ a £4m payout should be sacked before his contract expires at the end of the 21/22 season. This is likely the only thing keeping the 60-year-old in the dugout, but times at Newcastle are becoming more and more reminiscent of the darkest days under Steve McClaren, and even he was eventually dismissed. Yet there is likely no Rafa Benitez to swoop in to at least try and save the Magpies from the Championship, so all Newcastle can do now is pray for more than their own team’s success, but also the decline of Scott Parker’s Fulham. After tonight’s display, it’s surely the only way Premier League football will be played at St James’ Park next season.