Having drawn 0-0 with one of the worst teams in the league and been thrashed 4-0 by the best in less than a week, the time has come for Benitez to alter his tactical position.

The games against Fulham and Liverpool highlighted more than ever Newcastle’s failure to exert themselves against opposition, no matter where their position in the league.

Newcastle are now exactly half way through their Premier League season and sit in 15th place.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United)

But just five points separate them from 18th place Burnley.

The Toon currently seem to be relying on the bottom three teams losing to keep themselves up the table.

However, as weak as Newcastle’s squad is, they’ve shown they’re capable of controlling and winning games.

Against Bournemouth and Burnley, they dominated, creating far more chances than their opposition.

But for whatever reason, Benitez continues to be reluctant to set-up his team to attack.

If he continues to play for a point in January, he risks repeating his mistakes from earlier in the season.

Where caution has got Benitez so far

Firstly, Benitez needs to reassess his tactics for playing the top sides.

Against the entire top half of the league, they’ve won just once, against Watford.

They also took a point against Everton giving them just four points from a possible 30 against top sides.

A team looking to stay in the Premier League can’t afford to only beat the worst teams.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Teams like Brighton who are ahead of Newcastle arguably have a much worse squad, many of whom wouldn’t get into Benitez’s team.

Yet Brighton are safely ahead of the drop zone thanks to victories against Man United and West Ham.

Newcastle have shown time and time again this season that trying to shut out a top side and nick a win doesn’t work for them.

A superior goal difference is merely one extra point, and the Liverpool defeat shows how easily Newcastle could lose this advantage.

The Toon’s tactics have seen them lose so much confidence in attack and something needs to change.

Newcastle’s fear in front of goal

This season Newcastle have scored just 14 goals in 19 games.

The only side with a lower total is Huddersfield, who sit bottom of the league due to their efforts.

Newcastle’s attack are certainly weak, but it’s surprising they could be worse than Cardiff and Brighton.

It’s possible Benitez’s tactics have created some sort of anxiety in the players.

The Toon have attempted just 202 shots this season, the third worst total in the league.

The only two worse teams are Burnley and Brighton. Teams known for their reliance on sitting back and soaking up pressure.

One bizarre stat also shows Newcastle are yet to score outside of the box at all this season.

This shows more than anything a reluctance in the side to test goalkeepers.

The most damning stat however is that Newcastle have not scored a single goal from a counter attack.

It makes Benitez’s style even more frustrating, because even if Newcastle are soaking up pressure, they don’t have the quality to hurt teams when they win it back.

The team aren’t expected to pick up many point in January, but if Benitez continues his plan, they may well pick up nothing.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

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