Newcastle disappointed in their 0-0 draw with Fulham this weekend, but back to back clean sheets will give them plenty of confidence for their upcoming fixtures.

The Magpies also shut out Huddersfield in a 1-0 win last week, and it seems Rafa Benitez has been preparing his side for the tough road ahead.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Newcastle’s upcoming fixtures include Liverpool and Man United.

Liverpool are currently undefeated at the top of the table and Man United will be looking to impress under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

But the tough run doesn’t end there, as Newcastle also face Chelsea and Man City in January.

The Toon aren’t expected to pick up many points in the next few weeks, but they’ll be feeling quietly confident after recent displays.

Shutting up Shop

Rafa Benitez has come under fire in recent weeks for his utilisation of a five at the back formation.

Although it initially saw success with an away win against Burnley, it’s frustrated some supporters since.

The defensive approach has seen Newcastle draw with Everton and Fulham, lose to Wolves, and then only narrowly defeat Huddersfield.

Benitez is playing a game of small margins, and so naturally it’s proving divisive with fans.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United)

The gap between winning and losing is very thin, and it doesn’t make for very attractive football.

But their upcoming run of fixtures will allow Benitez to for once correctly utilise this approach.

In the last five match weeks, only three teams have conceded less goals than Newcastle.

Newcastle are always going to be on the backfoot against the top sides, but their ability to shut teams out may see them pick up some surprise points.

Second time lucky?

Newcastle were incredibly unlucky to only pick up two points from their opening ten fixtures this season.

Benitez had unsurprisingly responded to a tough run of opening fixtures by setting his side up not to lose.

However they still lost by a margin of just one goal in matches against Chelsea and Man City.

Despite these negative results, Benitez is likely to repeat the tactic against the same sides in January.

(Photo by Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images)

In their next seven fixtures, Newcastle face six of the top seven in the league table.

They’ve already faced five of those sides this season, managing just one win against Watford.

But Rafa Benitez’s results always come down to small margins and he’ll be hoping things go his way this time.

If Newcastle get the luck that avoided them earlier in the season, Benitez’s negative tactics may soon be hailed as genius.

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