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Newcastle United have had an okayish start to their return season in the Premier League. After an early stutter in the first couple of games, the Magpies, under Rafael Benitez, managed to find a way to get positive results and nailed down a place in the upper half of the table, until two 1-0 defeats in the past couple of weeks against Burnley and Bournemouth saw them slide down to the 11th position in the standings, heading into the international break.
There have been a number of positives for the Tynesiders in the first third of the season – the emergence of Mikel Merino, the continued growth of club captain Jamaal Lascelles, Matt Ritchie’s growing influence. However, the fact that they are behind the other two promoted clubs in the table says that all isn’t going right for the Magpies.
Defensively they have been quite solid, having let in just 10 goals so far this term – only Manchester United (5), Manchester City (7), Tottenham Hotspur (7) and Burnley (9) have conceded fewer goals than Benitez’s side this term. However, the issue has been in the attacking third of the pitch for the Toon, as the goals haven’t been coming all that frequently.
So, let’s delve into the attacking statistics of Newcastle this season and try and figure out what’s going amiss for them.
Newcastle won the EFL Championship title last season to earn promotion back to the Premier League and they had done so by scoring a total of 85 goals in 46 games in the second tier of English football – joint most by any side in the competition, along with Fulham and Norwich City, meaning they had a goal ratio of 1.85 goals every game.
It was always going to be tough in the Premier League, but Newcastle, this term, have just managed 10 goals in 11 league outings – a ratio of 0.91 goals/game, half their goal-scoring rate in the second division last campaign.
There has been no shortage of chances created by the team going forward this season, as statistics from Squawka.com indicate that Newcastle have had a total of 101 clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities created this season – only Southampton have managed to create more chances than the Magpies, apart from the big six of the Premier League. However, only 10 of them have found the back of the net, meaning a chance conversion rate of 9.09%, which is clearly not up to the standards needed.
Furthermore, Newcastle have also had a total of 144 shots at goal this term, highest by any club behind the top six, and their shooting accuracy of 52% is the 5th best in the division as well. But, only 10 goals scored, which means they have an extremely poor shot conversion rate of 0.07%, i.e., Newcastle need 14.4 shots to score a single goal. Once again, that is way off the standard and the level that is needed at this stage.
Looking at the numbers, it is quite clear that the Magpies have no problem in creating opportunities, but is the lack of a clinical edge in front of goal that has been holding them back this season big time.
Last season, in the second division, they had Dwight Gayle scoring for fun – the Englishman had netted 22 goals in 31 games to lead them to the title. However, the 27-year old has been held back by Benitez this campaign, owing to some injury problems. Gayle has made 9 appearances in the Premier League, only 3 of which have been from the start and he hasn’t scored a single goal.
Instead, it has been summer signing Joselu, who has been entrusted with the goal-scoring duties this term by Rafa. But the former Stoke City man has proven to be quite wasteful in front of goal. In his 10 games (9 starts) in the top-flight, the Spaniard has just netted 2 goals, despite having taken 27 shots at goal so far – which is the 7th-highest tally for the number of shots taken in the league this season. That means, Joselu is scoring at an extremely poor rate of one goal per 13.5 shots, which highlights how profligate he has been.
Joselu’s fellow countryman and attacking partner Ayoze Perez too has been far from effective in the attack this term. The former Tenerife man has featured in all the 11 league games for the Magpies (10 starts), but has only one goal to show for. The likes of Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie too haven’t been able to find the back of the net on a regular basis.
The fact that centre-half Jamaal Lascelles is the club’s joint top-scorer along with Joselu (2 goals each) this season tells you the story of how poor Newcastle have been in front of goal.
Going by the numbers, it is quite clear that Newcastle have some serious issues in their attack, more so in their striking department and Benitez will have to find a solution to this conundrum at the earliest, if his team is to compete for a place in the upper half of the table.
There have been reports of a move for Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun in January, and judging by how things have been going at the moment, Newcastle could definitely use the services of the prolific Turkish striker moving forward this season.
Stats Courtesy: Squawka.com