Having spent much of the first half of the season flirting with the drop, it's a sunnier outlook on the whole for Newcastle United as they travel to West Ham this weekend in the Premier League.
Rafa Benitez's side looked set to be embroiled in a nail-biting relegation battle - and still may yet be drawn back into it - but four wins in their last six games has seen them open up some daylight between them and the bottom three.
The Magpies are not out of the woods yet however and will be keen to take another three points at the expense of their hosts, particularly after they were handed a 3-0 loss at home earlier this season in the reverse fixture.
Manuel Pellegrini's side know how to make it tough for visiting sides and have arguably underperformed this season - and the Hammers won't roll over for anyone as they look to improve their own hopes of a European spot.
|Game||West Ham vs Newcastle United|
|Date||Saturday, March 2|
|Time||5:30pm GMT / 12:30pm ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|NBCSN||NBC Sports Live|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League. It can be streamed on Sky Go.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League||Sky Go|
Squads & Team News
|Position||West Ham players|
|Defenders||Zabaleta, Cresswell, Diop, Masuaku, Ogbonna, Balbeuna, Fredericks|
|Midfielders||Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Felipe Anderson, Obiang, Powell, Holland, Lanzini, Nasri|
|Forwards||Antonio, Arnautovic, Carroll, Diangana, Perez, Chicharito|
Fabian Balbuena could make a return from knee surgery for the hosts but may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Having pulled up with a fever ahead of the defeat to Manchester City, Marko Arnautovic will likely slot back into the lead striker role.
Potential West Ham starting XI: Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Johnson, Obiang, Rice, Nasri, Antonio, Anderson, Arnautovic.
|Position||Newcastle United players|
|Goalkeepers||Dubravka, Darlow, Woodman, Elliot|
|Defenders||Clark, Dummett, Schar, Lascelles, Fernandez, Manquillo, Lejeune, Yedlin, Barreca|
|Midfielders||Ki, Diame, Ritchie, Hayden, Kenedy, Atsu, Longstaff, Almiron, Shelvey|
|Forwards||Rondon, Muto, Perez, Joselu|
Rafa Benitez looks to have the luxury of a full squad to choose from - but after their 2-0 win over Burnley, is likely to elect to remain with a similar line-up.
That means five at the back with lone striker Salomon Rondon up front, while Miguel Almiron will once again feature out wide on the left flank.
Potential Newcastle United starting XI: Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie; Perez, Hayden, Longstaff, Almiron; Rondon.
Betting & Match Odds
West Ham are the slight favourites to prevail at odds of 23/20 with bet365. Newcastle, meanwhile, are priced at 13/5 while a draw is available at 5/2.
Three months ago, Newcastle United looked set to be embroiled in yet another down-to-the-wire survival battle at the wrong end of the Premier League.
Fast forward to 2019 however and Rafa Benitez looks to have worked his magic once again, with the Magpies in the best form of their season so far.
Four wins from their six previous games – including a huge upset against Manchester City – has helped them put some distance between the bottom three and themselves.
As many can attest to, however, there will be no removal of the foot from the pedal, with even the slightest of slip-ups a potential pitfall for the St James’ Park side.
They travel to West Ham looking to make it three wins on the bounce – but they will be wary of what Manuel Pellegrini’s side can offer in return.
The Hammers may have slipped to defeat against champions City last time out, but only thanks to a Sergio Aguero penalty, having obstinately held their own for the rest of the game.
They’ll hope to go one better and get back to winning ways against a side they handed a 3-0 defeat to in the reverse fixture earlier this campaign.
Benitez has stressed too that he does not feel his side are safe, though he is proud of his squad’s efforts to salvage their season.
“Obviously, winning games gives you more confidence, but we have to have the same idea of one game at a time,” he stated. “We are where we are because we are focusing on each game.
“The job is not done, no chance. We need to approach every game with the same mentality. The players know that, and the fans do, too.
“The players deserve the credit; they were doing really well. They fought for each other in the second half. It was a good win against a good team.”