Take Eight: Newcastle United in position to wrap it up by January 2nd?
Newcastle United have put themselves into a glorious position.
The last 18 games have seen 16 wins and only one draw and a single defeat.
Taking away the three League Cup victories that have put Newcastle into Tuesday’s quarter-final with Hull, it is a Championship story of 13 wins and that single draw and only defeat from the last 15 games.
This has put Newcastle top on 40 points and nine points (10 if you count the massive goal difference) clear of third in the automatic promotion places.
It is now eight Championship wins in a row and everybody is expecting that to surely slip sometime soon but…does that have to be the case.
Looking at the fixtures, the next eight Championship matches sees Newcastle play six games against teams in the bottom seven.
The two exceptions are fifth placed Birmingham and ninth placed Sheffield Wednesday but both those games are at home.
Newcastle won’t win every single one of the remaining 29 games but is there really any convincing argument as to them not being capable of winning any/all of these next eight?
With 17 matches gone, the table surely gives a decent idea of likely challengers near the top and those who will be fighting it out towards the bottom.
With only Rolando Aarons out injured and two teams of players, why can’t Newcastle continue their domination in this five week period which takes us into the new year.
In the promotion season of 2009/10, once they got settled into their stride, Chris Hughton’s team went on to only lose one of the last 33 Championship games of the season.
If Newcastle did win these next eight league games, it would put them on 64 points, with 25 matches gone and 21 remaining, it would mean Newcastle coasting to promotion.
With the season pushing on and fixtures piling up, it is the opposing teams who are going to feel the pressure more and more, as small squads of players are forced to play weekends and midweek, even if they are carrying knocks.
Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez and Newcastle have the luxury of freshening up the team AND the subs bench whenever the Manager chooses to.
These next eight fixtures mainly against Championship strugglers, gives Newcastle a golden opportunity to build on the previous 17 results, which were almost all against teams higher in the table.
To keep this winning form going would obviously mean decision making was so much easier, as Rafa Benitez could already be putting the main emphasis on how to start preparing for the Premier League, with the transfer window open.
This isn’t arrogance, just statement of fact. Remarkably, Newcastle could be putting the promotion issue to bed by the turn of the year if they simply keep doing what they have been doing, winning football matches with ruthless efficiency and controlling most games.
The challenge is there (current league positions in brackets).
26 Nov 2016: Newcastle v Blackburn (22nd)
2 Dec 2016: Nottingham Forest (18th) v Newcastle
10 Dec 2016: Newcastle v Birmingham (5th)
14 Dec 2016: Wigan (23rd) v Newcastle
17 Dec 2016: Burton (20th) v Newcastle
26 Dec 2016: Newcastle v Sheff Wed (9th)
30 Dec 2016: Newcastle v Nottingham Forest (18th)
2 Jan 2017: Blackburn (22nd) v Newcastle
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