They'll have to focus more on the Premier League than they perhaps would have liked to as Southampton, West Ham and Wigan all won at the weekend and the teams below are making some ground on Newcastle and Southampton's win over Chelsea took them into 12th. Incredibly, Newcastle are 3 points from 11th and 3 points from 18th. Wigan's 2 successive fortuitous wins have closed the gap and has ignited another nervy end to the season for the teams near the bottom of the table. How is it that when the clocks go forward that Wigan start to play like Barcelona?
A win against Fulham on sunday is vital for Newcastle. If they win they'll be on 36 points and assuming 3 other teams drop points Newcastle will be in a better position than they are currently. As well as this their next game is Sunderland and this will be no easy task especially with the recent introduction of the fiery character, Paulo Di Canio as their head coach. However, Fulham have won their last 2 games and although their away record is infamously diabolical they will fancy their chances against a Newcastle side that has not made St James' Park the fortress it was last year.
Newcastle need to click into top gear immediately and have no excuses. The Europa League is there for the taking and many fans including myself will be horrified if they throw the competition in order to focus on Premier League survival. There's 3 worse teams in the league than Newcastle however I am aware of the Toon's past complacency such as when they were relegated a few years ago. The issue is goals and negative tactics. Papiss Cisse works his socks off up top on his own but cannot bang them in every week without willing runners. The loss of Ba and Ben Arfa are obvious factors for the lack of goals however in the league players such as Yoan Gouffran and Sylvain Marveaux need to start scoring in order to move away from the bottom of the table. When Newcastle are clear of the relegation zone they can focus 100% on the Europa League but if they are knocked out then it may be too late. They need to juggle the competitions for 2 weeks and utilise players such as Gouffran in the Premier League who is ineligible.
If Newcastle can achieve a 0-0 draw in Lisbon/score a vital away goal before win on Sunday then they're in a fantastic position to push on in Europe and the Premier League. As for the derby, north east football fans are aware that form counts for absolutely nothing: whoever wants it, wins it.