Steve Bruce's Newcastle United travel to Fulham on the final day of The Premier League season with the chance to finish 12th in The Premier League if The Magpies win to accumulate 45 points for the season and eclipse last season's points total & equal that of 2018/9 under Rafa Benitez - if other Premier League results go The Magpies way.
As The Premier League stands after the last 48 hours of fixtures, Newcastle are 15th in the table with 42 points after beating Sheffield United 1-0 last night at St. James' Park in front of home fans for the first time in 15 months following the Corona Virus pandemic, thanks to this goal from Joe Willock after a terrific through ball by Allan Saint-Maximin to Jacob Murphy for the cross to send 10,000 Geordie fans into raptures:
IF Newcastle manage to beat Fulham by two goals on Sunday AND Wolves, Crystal Palace and Southampton are beaten by Man United, Liverpool and West Ham respectively then Newcastle finish 12th and earn an extra £8M in prize money from The Premier League than they would if they were defeated by Fulham and Brighton and Burnley beat Arsenal and Sheffield United and fell to 17th in the final League table.
With the Covid-19 pandemic contracting every economy in the world including the football world's with top English clubs losing tens of millions of pounds with Newcastle an estimated £40.3M in lost matchday and commercial revenue as per Statista due to fans not being in stadiums, then this merit money could be significant in the summer transfer market with Newcastle chasing the signature of Joe Willock.
So a win is vitally important to give The Magpies a shot at that 12th place finish on 45 points which would mean one point more than last season and exactly the same total as Rafa Benitez accrued in his final season after 4 years at the helm of the club in 2018/9 which is important for local bragging rights by Bruce and Benitez fans.
Coincidentally, that 13th place finish under Benitez was secured with a 4-0 win at Fulham on the final day with JonJo Shelvey scoring a worldie goal to get Newcastle off to a dream start against the already relegated Cottagers and Steve Bruce said in his press conference he wanted to end the season on a similar high to the amazing 4-2 win at third-placed Leicester last time out on their away day travels:
Star striker Callum Wilson received the Newcastle Player of the Year award for his 12-goal contribution to The Magpies cause and intriguingly he was pictured in Friday's Newcastle training session photo gallery which may mean he make a final day appearance in the black and white shirt and make it 13 goals the same as his 13 shirt number at Crave Cottage on Sunday afternoon:
Bruce revealed that Allan Saint-Maximin and Martin Dubravka were both facing late fitness tests in training before the game at Fulham yet both are expected to make it before a summer of rest and recuperation for the Frenchman, who must be on the fringes of the France squad with his exceptional recent displays, and a summer at The Euros for the Slovakian keeper, one of four Magpies likely heading to the tournament:
For Scott Parker and Fulham, it will be another summer of discontent after a second relegation in three years but the popular young manager and ex-Newcastle player who has won many fans with his positivity throughout the campaign even if he has fallen short of keeping his team up, is hoping his team get a good reception from 10,000 of their own fans who are finally allowed back in the stadium on Sunday:
“I don’t know what reaction the players will get from the fans,” Parker admitted.
“I hope that the fans come in and support this team, this team has never let anyone down through lack of effort, through a lack of pride or professionalism."
Parker revealed former Newcastle favourite striker Alexander Mitrovic will miss the match - along with Antonee Robinson and Tom Cairney - having been discarded over long periods of the season by his manager despite his 26 goals propelling the club to The Premier League last season and a failure to get the best out of a striker playing some of the best football of his career scoring 5 goals in his 3 games for his country seems a missed opportunity for the club and Parker:
Newcastle, meanwhile, learned today they will face a fierce battle for the signature of Joe Willock after Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said in his press conference when asked if Willock will be staying or going to Newcastle:
"Sure because he has a contract and he's going to stay here. That's for sure. I'm very happy that things have gone so well because of the potential he has."
While Bruce was intent on Newcastle finishing the season with a final day flourish:
Prediction - Newcastle 5 Fulham 1