Alan Pardew will be the happier manager following his side’s 4-2 win on Sunday, but the performances from Newcastle and Southampton indicate that both sides should steer clear of the drop this season.
Those watching the game at St James' Park on Sunday would have been forgiven for thinking that it was a top half of the table clash between two sides chasing a European place, rather than a supposed relegation six pointer.
As it stands, that win took Newcastle to 30 points, six points off the drop zone, whilst Southampton are still only three points clear.
However based on the performances both teams gave on Sunday, they should be looking up the table, rather than at the sides below them.
Newcastle have been reinvigorated by their January transfers, and have key men returning to fitness and form like Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse. With Hatem Ben Arfa's return nearing by the day, they could easily overhaul Stoke in 10th place, with Tony Pulis' side only three points ahead of them at this stage.
Southampton have more to do, but demonstrated against Manchester City that they are good enough to beat anyone at the moment, and if they maintain the form shown against Newcastle for the rest of the season, they will win far more than they lose. Importantly for them they have continued to play well amongst the decidedly odd change of management brought about by their chairman Nicola Cortese.
With Wigan also playing well at the weekend, the other sides involved must be fearing for their chances. Newcastle and Southampton could ease away from trouble in the next few weeks, perhaps dropping Sunderland into the fray at the bottom of the table.
Aston Villa are one side in particular who will not have been delighted by the quality of the match at St James' Park, and will be well aware they are the only side in the league in worse form than bottom placed QPR over the last ten matches.
There always one or two sides who burst into life at this stage of the season to guarantee their survival, one of those sides is always Wigan, who might have started that process with their 3-0 win at Reading.
Southampton and Newcastle look well set to climb the table in the coming weeks as well, leaving the other teams at the bottom trying to finish top of a rapidly diminishing pool
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