Newcastle haven’t had it easy thus far—not many sides would want to visit the Reebok and then entertain Aston Villa in the opening two games of the season.
But the club came through with four points, then bounced back from a slightly disappointing draw at Middlesbrough to dominate an on-form Wigan side.
Next up, on the heels of an emphatic drubbing from Liverpool, is Derby County. Derby will be looking to restore some pride and pick up some points at home. Newcastle will be looking to emulate Liverpool and win comfortably.
After the Derby game, Newcastle face a tough stretch that could well separate the teams pushing for automatic European places.
Aston Villa, Everton, Tottenham, and Blackburn are the clubs whom most observers expected to be contesting European berths. Newcastle and a rejuvenated Manchester City have crashed the party to this point—and will both be looking to stay there over the long haul.
Newcastle’s next five games are West Ham, Everton, and Tottenham at home, and Manchester City and Reading away. 10 points from those matchups should be enough to keep Newcastle in or around sixth place...or maybe higher, given the shaky form of some of the big-name teams.
In any event, it's a crucial stretch. If Newcastle performs well, it will bode well for the rest of the campaign. If they fail, it may mean another season of disappointment for the Geordie faithful.