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Newcastle United

Newcastle may have been left disappointed in the FA Cup when unable to beat Oxford last weekend, but at least a replay keeps them in the competition.

In the Premier League, however, they are unbeaten in three outings and a crucial 1-0 success over Chelsea in their last game at St James Park has helped move them seven points away from the drop zone and with it, vital breathing space.

The Toon now host bottom club Norwich and another victory would certainly improve their chances of preserving top-flight status once more. City have enjoyed themselves in the FA Cup, with a 4-2 win at Preston followed up last weekend with a 2-1 victory at Burnley.

Unfortunately for the Canaries, that has rarely been replicated in the PL where they have suffered nine defeats on the road with just a solitary maximum coming at Everton.

The reality seems that the club are facing relegation back to the championship after just one season and a leaky defence that has conceded on 47 occasions has been their achilles heel. Despite Teemu Pukki’s best efforts up front, they have been unable to compete and United can push them nearer to the trapdoor on Saturday.

Arsenal

Arsenal have drawn twelve matches in the Premier League which is seriously derailing their hopes of a top-four finish. It’s difficult to believe they have only tasted victory on six occasions and they are ten points adrift of Chelsea who occupy fourth at present.

Surprisingly, below the top four teams, it’s incredibly tight with just four points now seperating the clubs between fifth and fourteenth inclusive. Arsenal therefore in tenth are still in the hunt to finish much higher than where they find themselves and will need to prove they have the fight to produce the goods away from home when they travel north to Burnley on Sunday.

The Gunners did enjoy a 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Monday in the FA Cup, where a predominantly second-string side showed the fruits of a blossoming youth product the club are developing at the Emirates. Now they must follow up in Lancashire and return with three points which I believe they will.

Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest have been on a tremendous run of form since late December and with 17 points taken from a possible 21, the Tricky Trees now find themselves in third position and just four points adrift of title favourites Leeds.

A Joe Lolley strike was enough to take maximum points from Brentford on Tuesday night and with forward partner Lewis Grabban having bagged sixteen in the league, the club are confident of making a return to the top flight for the first time in twenty years.

Tyler Walker has been in excellent form on loan at Lincoln and has been recalled. He will be a useful player to have coming off the bench during the promotion run-in.

Forest are away again but will make a short journey over to Birmingham City backed by a big following. The Blues are hoping to avoid relegation but are well behind the leading clubs and appear very unlikely to make a playoff push.

They were involved in an incredible recent game at St Andrews where they were beaten 5-4 against Leeds and have shipped in 46 goals in the Championship already.

Provided the visitors can handle the pressure of having the best recent form in the section, they should maintain their winning ways and put pressure on both Leeds and WBA, the two clubs above them.

Fulham

Fulham have slipped to fourth in the championship but still well within striking distance of a top-two finish which would guarantee automatic promotion.

Despite having been absent recently with injury, forward Aleksandar Mitrovic has played a crucial role and his 18 championship goals leave him joint-top of the scoring charts alongside Ollie Watkins at Brentford.

The London club have an important set of fixtures during February and many of their opponents are in the bottom half of the table. They host Huddersfield at Craven Cottage next, which offers a good opportunity to keep pace with the leaders.

Town made a slow start to the season and have been involved in the relegation fight thereafter. They have looked more impressive under new manager Danny Cowley and were 2-1 winners at Hull City midweek. It would be a surprise if they follow up with success again and the Cottagers can prove too strong.

Rotherham United

League One has been very competitive this season with a host of clubs challenging for promotion. Pre-season favourites Portsmouth and Sunderland were slow out of the blocks and although the big two have improved lately, they don’t have much room for error if they wish to secure automation promotion.

Both are expected to finish in the playoffs whilst other big names; Coventry, Ipswich and Peterborough will also anticipate joining them.

However, the current leaders are Rotherham who, after suffering relegation last year, have bounced back impressively this time. They have lost eight times but since Christmas have been the strongest team in the section.

A 4-0 thumping of Peterborough in South Yorkshire and an eye-catching 3-1 victory at Oxford have helped them reach the summit, and they were narrow 1-0 winners over Ipswich on Tuesday.

They now host Burton who remain in the playoff hunt but have lost star striker Liam Boyce to SPL outfit Hearts. The loss of their talisman leaves them short of firepower and a mid-table berth may now be their likely finishing position.

The New York stadium provides a terrific and partisan atmosphere, and the Millers can use this to their advantage once more this weekend and keep themselves as the front runner to lift the divisional crown.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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