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Fulham’s form over the last few weeks has left Newcastle seriously looking over their shoulder, with the Magpies now just one point clear of the relegation zone, albeit with a game in hand on the Cottagers.
Steve Bruce‘s side, who are also one point ahead of 17th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion, are currently on a four-game winless run in the Premier League, losing to Chelsea and Manchester United, in addition to drawing with Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Brom, since a home success over Southampton.
There is simply no downplaying the importance of Friday’s match as a poor result could see Newcastle end the weekend in the relegation zone, and they also have huge fixtures against Brighton and Burnley to come either side of a home game against Tottenham Hotspur at the start of April.
Bruce’s team have lost 14 of their 27 league matches this season, which is the third-worst record in the division in terms of defeats, while they have dropped points in nine of their 13 fixtures on home soil.
Newcastle have also only won one of their last seven league meetings with Villa and suffered a 2-0 defeat when they travelled to Dean Smith‘s side for the reverse game earlier this season.