Fate, or more particularly the next two scheduled fixtures, present Newcastle United with an opportunity to increase the vital gap between us and Huddersfield Town, the team in 3rd place in the Championship.

Our next two games are both at home, and on paper both look winnable – Aston Villa (Monday 20th February) & Bristol City (Saturday 25th February). Neither of these teams are pulling up any trees this season and are there for the taking.

I know, I know – we’ve had some dodgy results at home this season – Wolves & Blackburn to name but two – but I’m sure Rafa Benitez is eyeing up the fixture list and expecting six points from these two games, especially with our goal machine Dwight Gayle back in the squad.

Beating Villa, of course, would be particularly satisfying after the nonsense we were once subject to by some of their so-called fans,and which many of us will never forgive or forget.

Anyroadup – the significance and importance of the next two games is actually reinforced when you look at who Sky Sports darlings Huddersfield Town will be playing – Reading at home (Tuesday 21st February), 3 days after playing Man City in the FA Cup, then a local derby at Barnsley (Saturday 25th February).

So if we can win both of our games, it’s doubtful if Huddersfield will pick up maximum points too, so the current 5 point gap (plus goal difference) would be increased.

This increase in the gap, whilst being very welcome, would also make for a useful confidence booster as the three games after that are the hardest run of games we’ve had this season – Brighton, Huddersfield and Reading, all away from home.

But even then, with our away form and our defensive record, I’m sure we will also be picking up points from those fixtures.

Looking at the other contenders for an automatic promotion place, Brighton’s next two fixtures see them heading away to Barnsley (Saturday 18th February) and then a six pointer at home to Reading (Saturday 25th February). Reading’s other game is away to Huddersfield, as mentioned earlier.

As we approach the business end of our Championship campaign, pressure and nerves can begin to play a significant part and can affect results. Some teams cope better than others.

Taking all of this into account, I’m sure Rafa will be doing his best to impress upon the United squad how important these next two home games will be.

Achieve maximum points from these two games, and it puts pressure on the following pack.

Two wins and all of a sudden the league table could well start to look a lot more comfortable when viewed from Tyneside!

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.

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