After 31 games played, Newcastle United have exactly the same stats as they did at the same stage in 2017/2018.

The Toon had won nine, drawn eight and lost 14 this time last year, and sat on an identical 35 points.

However perhaps even more eerily, Newcastle also have the exact same goal difference of -9, with 31 goals scored and 40 conceded.

It’s a bizarre statistic, made even more impressive by how badly the club started the season.

It’s easy to forget that less than six months ago many fans had resigned themselves to relegation.

So bad were Newcastle’s opening few results, that manager Rafa Benitez is on the cusp of achieving an incredible Premier League record.

I he can continue to find results for the Toon, he may well achieve the greatest turnaround in the history of the league.

 (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United)

Benitez’s turnaround

Much was made of Newcastle’s ten match winless run at the start of the season, and it’s astonishing how they have progressed.

Nearly two months into the season and the Toon had just three points in one of the worst starts in Premier League history.

In fact, only two teams had ever been worse at that stage, Sunderland in 2016/17 and Man City in 1995/96, both of whom had just two points.

It’s important to note that both of those teams were relegated at the end of the season.

There has only been 49 occasions in PL history where teams have managed just six points or less after 10 games.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

28 of them went on to be relegated, and the fates of this season’s Fulham, Newcastle and Cardiff remain uncertain.

That’s 58% of those sides, and it will be 60% if Fulham and Cardiff follow suit.

Given those stats, Newcastle would already be in a small minority of those who managed to survive horror starts.

But most remarkable for the Toon, is that it may not even take a great escape for them to beat the drop.

They are currently on 35 points in 14th place, and have seven matches still to play to reach that elusive 40.

Of the 49 teams in PL history to have six points or less after 10 matches, only 12 managed to finish above 17th place.

That means of the teams in history who managed to beat the drop after such a poor run, 68% of them finished just one place above the drop zone.

Benitez should aim for miracle record

No side that has started as badly as Newcastle has ever achieved a 10th place finish or higher.

Crystal Palace have come closest in the last decade, achieving two phenomenal turnarounds.

In 2013/2014, Tony Pulis guided a Palace side to an 11th placed finish despite them having just one win in their opening ten.

And bizarrely, Roy Hodgson repeated the feat in 2017/2018, guiding them to 11th place again despite having just five points after 11 matches.

If Benitez can guide Newcastle to 10th or higher, he will have officially been at the helm of the greatest turnaround in PL history.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

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