Isaac Hayden has hinted toward Newcastle United’s Premier League clash with Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday as being a season-defining fixture for the Magpies after the anomaly of facing Liverpool, as quoted by the Chronicle.
The Toon were beaten 3-1 at Anfield over the weekend, but Hayden does not see Newcastle losing to one of the Premier League’s top sides as the sort of result which will decide where the St. James’ Park natives end the campaign.
Newcastle are bidding to secure their fourth successive season in the Premier League following their return to the top-flight as Championship winners in 2017, but currently find themselves in the bottom three after taking four points from the opening five games.
Only Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford have taken fewer points than the North East outfit so far this term, with Wolves and the Hornets the only top-flight clubs yet to chalk a favourable result in the wins column.
Brighton are struggling in the early weeks of the campaign, too, with the Seagulls only hovering above the drop zone by a point after they were held to a draw by Burnley on Saturday, when Jeff Hendrick struck a 91st-minute equaliser at the Amex Stadium.
Errors helped prevent Newcastle from leaving Anfield with anything to show for their efforts on Merseyside at the weekend, where a mistake by Christian Atsu was seized on by Roberto Firmino who set Sadio Mane through to score.
Hayden, though, does not expect losing to Liverpool to define Newcastle’s season, and instead sees the visit of Brighton to St. James’ Park as the sort of game that will determine where the Magpies end the campaign.
“Our season won’t be judged on playing Liverpool away,” the former England youth international claimed. “The games for us that we have to capitalise on are against Brighton. But we will take a lot from Anfield still.
“The lads gave a good effort and we now take that into training and look to do our best against Brighton.
“Last year we lost 4-0 and got a proper hammering at Liverpool. Since then, I have cracked on. I knew I had the performances and confidence inside me to be able to do it [and] I have proved it to myself that I can do it.”
There is certainly no shame in Newcastle losing to teams like Liverpool given the two outfit’s current outlook, with one vying for the title and the other slumped at the wrong end of the table.
That easily adjusts the focus onto matches against clubs such as Brighton, and supports Hayden’s argument that facing the Seagulls better paints a picture of where the Magpies are in relation to the top-flight sides they are competing with.
Like Newcastle, Brighton are bidding to secure their survival in the Premier League for another season, having struggled for results last term – winning just nine of their league games – but surviving the drop by just two points.
Newcastle losing to Brighton this weekend could easily be a result that defines both clubs’ campaigns, and potentially decide who is relegated next May, given how close the league standings are on current form.
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