Newcastle United can't afford a late wobble as rocky winter patch could still haunt Eddie Howe

Newcastle United were swept aside by Brighton & Hove Albion back in September as Roberto De Zerbi's men made easy work on a warm Saturday night last summer.

Eddie Howe and his team have gone through their fair share of trials and tribulations since but look like a team capable of finishing the campaign strongly. There's even talk of a late push for fifth place, with Tottenham Hotspur wobbling, but Howe accepted that might be too much of an ask so late in the campaign while assuring fans his only focus is adding three more victories on to the board in the Premier League.

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Since that 3-1 win for Brighton at the Amex Stadium, have slid from the top four to outside the top 10 with Europa League demands taking its toll on De Zerbi's side. Nevertheless, Howe wants his team to show they have learned from their experiences.

Howe said: "If you don't get the tactical framework right, you're in for a very difficult afternoon. We didn't quite get that right at Amex Stadium - I think we were off it, physically and tactically so we hope for a better delivery tomorrow."

Newcastle's season genuinely has reached a crossroads with Europa League, Europa Conference League or no place in continental competition at all still potential outcomes at St James' Park. Howe said: "I think it is going to be tough, but I think what we are going to try to do is win every game we have left.

"Brighton are a very good team. Roberto has done an amazing job and Graham Potter was also hugely impressive. Their style is difficult to grab hold of and control. They stick to their method and they have become very strong at it."

Newcastle have recovered from their 2-0 defeat at Crystal Palace in what was their only defeat from the last seven Premier League matches. But even after picking up 16 points from 21 they can't risk a wobble.

That's because of their rocky patch in December in which they were dealt heavy defeats at Tottenham and Everton, plus the 1-0 loss at Luton. Then there are the home stutters against Nottingham Forest, Luton and Bournemouth when just two points from nine were yielded.

A home defeat this weekend would give Chelsea or Man United the chance to snare back a European place over the weekend but both the Blues and the Red Devils face tough encounters away to Nottingham Forest and at home to Arsenal, where the Old Trafford side are remarkably 6/1 for a home victory with some bookies!

Seeing off Brighton though would make life so much easier for Howe and his players, and crank the pressure up on Man United and Chelsea. It's going to right down to the wire.