What a difference a year makes: Newcastle now versus this time last year

Newcastle United fans celebrate

Newcastle United have been in fine form this season and they will be celebrating Christmas at the top of the Championship table.

This season has been one of unbridled success for Newcastle United as they have gone from strength to strength with each passing game. Manager Rafael Benitez has taken a Magpies side that was abject last season and turned them into a team that is taking the Championship by storm.

Dwight Gayle is the Championship's top scorer, Jonjo Shelvey is proving to be the league's most valuable player, while Benitez is proving what a master tactician he really is. Along with these three, the rest of the Newcastle team is finally stepping up to the mark.

They currently find themselves sitting at the top of the league then with 49 points, one clear of Brighton & Hove Albion in second place. With Reading languishing eight points below the Magpies, it is shaping up to be a case of who will finish as the champions between Newcastle and Brighton, considering the chasing pack is so far behind.

Newcastle manager Steve McClaren looks dejected

Their current position is made even more impressive when an eye is cast back to where they were at Christmas time last year. 

The Magpies' current season has seen them claim 16 wins, one draw and five loses, while they have scored 45 times, conceded 17 goals and amassed 49 points.

Last year they found themselves in a far more difficult position. Going into Christmas day, they sat in 17th place having picked up just four wins to go with their five draws and eight loses. They had also found the net just 19 times in their 17 games and conceded 32 times.

Of course, the Premier League is a tougher place to pick up points with the calibre of teams higher than in the Championship, while the Magpies have played five more games this season than they had this time last term.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez

Irrespective of that though, it has been a very impressive turnaround from Newcastle. As previously mentioned, they look very likely to gain an immediate return to the Premier League and the team itself is in a far better place than it was this time last year. 

The emphasis is now on the league leaders to continue this run of good form that has seen them take the Championship by storm. The old cliche 'what a difference a year makes' is one that is often overused, however, in the case of Newcastle, it is very apt.

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