The second international break of the season hands Premier League clubs a handy juncture at which to assess their performances so far.
It has not been an enjoyable campaign for Newcastle so far; off-field animosity has been accompanied by poor on-pitch results from a squad feeling the effect of Mike Ashley’s underinvestment.
Statistics often do not tell the story, but they can be telling. During the slow international break, a Premier League table based on how many touches each team has had has been put together.
We’ve picked out Newcastle’s position and examined what it means; is it a concern for the club or are there justifiable reasons for it?
What does the table say?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the bottom three on this touch table is the exact same as in the actual current standings.
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Cardiff are bottom, Newcastle are 19th, while Huddersfield sit just one place above the Magpies.
Cause for concern?
The key question when looking at these numbers is the same one to ask when assessing Newcastle’s season as a whole.
Does their league position reflect the quality of the team? Or just how difficult their opening run of fixtures has been?
With the exception of the most recent game against Manchester United, Benitez has opted for a counter-punching approach against the host of top six sides Newcastle have faced so far.
That naturally means the Magpies will have less touches; the figures might start to look a bit better after the international break when the fixture list looks slightly kinder.