Reaching 20 points by Christmas is seen as the halfway point to survival in the Premier League, but time is running out for Newcastle, who currently have just 13.
The Toon suffered a blow to their survival hopes at the weekend when they lost 2-1 to Wolves at St James’ Park.
The match had been tied at 1-1 until a stoppage time goal from Matt Doherty meant they lost another vital point.
A large reason for Newcastle’s current position is due to a horrendous start to the campaign in which they faced five of the top six.
But after a 3-2 loss to Manchester United in October, Newcastle fans were looking forward to their more ‘winnable’ fixtures before Christmas.
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It was important to put a good run of results together before then, but Newcastle have had mixed results.
The onslaught of top teams will start again in the New Year and the team must now make sure they are in the best position possible before it begins.
The must-win games before January
The Toon now have four more games left to play this calendar year.
To reach 20 points, the team need to win at least two and draw another.
Newcastle’s next two fixtures are probably the most important, as they face both Huddersfield and Fulham. Both teams are currently in the bottom three, so it’s vital Newcastle beat both to increase the point gap.
Huddersfield are just three points behind in 18th, and Fulham sit bottom of the table with nine points.
Losses against these two teams would likely see Newcastle back in the relegation zone.
On Boxing Day, the Magpies then face Liverpool, who currently are undefeated in the league. It would be fair to say a point would be a phenomenal result.
Their final game of the year is then against Watford. Newcastle previously won their first game of the season against The Hornets, despite them dominating the match.
Depending on results against Huddersfield and Fulham, this could also end up becoming a must-win fixture.
Newcastle’s horrific January schedule
Newcastle’s January fixtures mean that securing points before Christmas is now vital.
The team will once again play three of the top four, all of whom beat the Magpies earlier this season.
New Year fixtures
2nd January – Manchester United (home)
12th January – Chelsea (away)
19th January – Cardiff (home)
29th January – Man City (home)
2nd February – Spurs (away)
Neutrals wont fancy Newcastle for most of these games, so it’s important that the team can afford to take the hit when it comes. They do not want to be in a position where they have to put a run of results together against the top four in the league.
There’s no doubt Benitez could mastermind a result in a few of these matches, but winning their remaining December games is paramount.