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Newcastle and Man Utd’s top-four hopes dashed by defeats

The curse of Gus Poyet smited Newcastle once more, and this time at St James’ Park, as the man who put six past the Magpies in his playing career kept up a 100% success rate in four games as a manager against them as Sunderland won the Tyne/Wear derby 3-0.

Two wins in a week have seen the Black Cats bound from 19th to 14th in the table and they’re now 3/1 to go down, although both West Brom and Crystal Palace could go above Poyet’s men again with unlikely wins against Liverpool and Arsenal.

Newcastle look set for no-man’s land – they could be 10 points off the top four before the weekend’s out and aren’t given much hope of bridging that gap at 80/1 with Coral, while they’re so assured of a top-ten finish it’s priced up at a low-risk 1/25.

Manchester United, on the other hand, look excellent value at 1/4 to miss out on a Champions League spot after losing in the Premier League at Stoke for the first time.

The soon-to-be defrocked wardens of the title are setting all the wrong records under David Moyes, with clubs such as Newcastle, Everton and Swansea cherishing their rare Old Trafford wins this term and the likes of Stoke and Sunderland enjoying unexpected success when hosting United.

Juan Mata’s acquisition shows United mean business long-term, but it looks increasingly unlikely that Moyes will be able to stir the troops he has enough to erode what could to be a nine-point gap after Liverpool’s trip to West Brom.

There’s money to be made here, although the 8/15 on Liverpool making the top four could be the best bet, as they showed how much better they are than fifth and sixth-placed Tottenham and Everton when beating both by a hatful to nil.

West Ham won at home in the league for just the third time this season thanks to two Kevin Nolan goals against Swansea and they’re all the way out to 9/4 for the drop, but Sam Allardyce will be working his club’s lawyers to the bone to cobble together a decent defence of Andy Carroll’s sending off.

Carroll laid-on both goals before receiving his marching orders for a perceived rogue elbow aimed in Chico Flores’ direction, although a red card for what looked more like carelessness than malice seemed somewhat punitive.

Allardyce spoke of the injustice that would be inflicted on the Hammers should the sending off stand and the Dudley man needs fortune to favour Carroll for all their sakes, with crunch clashes against Aston Villa, Norwich and Southampton coming up in February.

West Ham only took two points from nine available the first time around this season against this trio and had been shut out in four of their last six matches in all competitions previous to Swansea’s visit, scoring just three times during that period, so they need all the help they can get from their fit-again record signing.