Difficult to get away from the feeling that these next two months are going to be pivotal to Newcastle United and their hopes this season.
Between Brighton at home on Saturday (20 October) and Fulham at home (22 December), NUFC have 10 Premier League matches, including those two games.
That list contains almost all of the clubs expected to finish in the bottom half of the table and the toughest games amongst them, at least on paper, are Burnley and Everton away. These two ending last season seventh and eighth in the league respectively.
Last season, Newcastle United climbed out of the relegation zone only two days before Christmas.
NUFC hadn’t won since a fortunate 1-0 victory over Palace on 21 October 2017, a run of only one point from nine matches, yet despite a number of injuries went to West Ham and won 3-2 on 23 December 2017, leaving the Premier League table at Christmas looking like this on 25 December 2017:
At the minute Newcastle have only two points from eight matches, a run very similar to last season’s October to December one, hopefully we are seeing the team just get it out of the way earlier this time…
By Christmas, Newcastle will have only played 18 games but with Liverpool away the next one on Boxing Day, safe to assume little chance of anything there.
So to be outside the bottom three by Christmas Day this time, I think safe to say Newcastle will almost certainly have to have more than 16 points once again.
A reality which means NUFC surely need five victories from these next 10 games below:
Newcastle v Brighton
Southampton v Newcastle
Newcastle v Watford
Newcastle v Bournemouth
Burnley v Newcastle
Newcastle v West Ham
Everton v Newcastle
Newcastle v Wolves
Huddersfield v Newcastle
Newcastle v Fulham
You look at that list and you can see an argument as to why Newcastle could win any/all of them, or at least get a point, but equally, any of these games could go the other way.
This pre-Christmas period becomes even more important when you look at the daunting run of games that then follow.
Starting with that Liverpool away match on Boxing Day, Newcastle play five of the ‘big six’ within the space of seven matches. I struggle to see the team picking up much from Liverpool (A), Man Utd (H), Chelsea (A), Man City (H) and Spurs (A).
I think to have any kind of a comfort zone taking into account that post-Christmas period, Newcastle ideally need to take at least six wins and maybe a couple of draws from these 10 games coming up.
Matches at St James Park are going to be key and with three of the next four matches being home to Brighton, Watford and Bournemouth, the pressure is on, but also a great opportunity.
Beating Brighton is where it has to start for Newcastle United, a must win game already?