It’s open season as Canaries and Magpies battle for survival

For a long time, Norwich and Newcastle looked doomed to relegation.

But after a change in managers and some spending power by the Magpies, that is no longer a foregone conclusion.

Dean Smith’s arrival has revitalised the Canaries.

At the start of the season, Norwich lost its first six games. It also suffered nine straight defeats in the tail-end of the 2019-2020 season, meaning it had lost 15 consecutive English top-flight matches.

It was an unwanted record for the club and its then manager, Daniel Farke.

The German remained in charge for a further five games. In that time, Norwich only collected five points. Ironically, its only victory came in Farke’s last match.

Since then, Smith has helped Norwich to three more victories, and three draws from 12 matches.

Norwich is still in the relegation zone – 18th with 17 points – but is unbeaten in its last three matches.

It hosts league leader Manchester City on Sunday (1.30am).

When the teams met back in August, City crushed Norwich 5-0. City will be favoured to collect another victory, but Smith hopes to throw a spanner in City’s march to the title.

Newcastle, meanwhile, splashed the cash in last month’s transfer window by signing Bruno Guimaraes (midfielder), Kieran Trippier (rightback), Chris Wood (striker) and Dan Burn (centreback).

It also took Matt Targett on loan from Aston Villa, whom it faces on Sunday (10pm). The leftback is not eligible to play against his parent club.

Newcastle sits 17th in the table, one place above the relegation zone.

Its 3-1 defeat of Everton on Wednesday means it is now unbeaten in four, having collected 13 points from 11 games under Eddie Howe.

Before the former Bournemouth manager arrived, Newcastle was winless, with only five points from 11 matches.

As it stands, Burnley is rock bottom with 14 points, but it has a couple of games in hand, as it had several matches postponed due to Covid-19.

Watford is 19th, a point ahead of Burnley and two behind Norwich, with Newcastle a further point ahead.

Everton is in the relegation dogfight after losing its last four matches. It has 19 points from 21 games.

It is anyone’s guess which club will go down, but the Canaries and Magpies hope they can fly away to safety.

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)

SATURDAY
Manchester United vs Southampton (8.30pm)
Watford vs Brighton (11pm)
Brentford vs Crystal Palace (11pm)
Everton vs Leeds (11pm)

SUNDAY
Norwich vs Manchester City (1.30am)
Tottenham vs Wolves (10pm)
Newcastle vs Aston Villa (10pm)
Burnley vs Liverpool (10pm)

MONDAY
Leicester vs West Ham (12.30am)