When Newcastle announced their starting eleven for the Spurs match and it included both Anita and Gouffran, the game was lost for me before it had begun.
I’m sure that legions of fans felt the same way.
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If asked to describe Anita I’d say mistake-prone and useless going forward. For Gouffran I’d take those descriptors and add anonymous. The fact that the latter is an attacking player makes the description even more biting. But am I being unfair?
To find out I decided to take a look at the matches this season where Anita and Gouffran played at least 45 minutes and compare them to the matches where they didn’t. The results were staggering.
Astonishingly, Newcastle have won seven of eight games when neither Anita nor Gouffran play 45 minutes. They won away at Gillingham, Crystal Palace, and Manchester City in the League Cup; Premier League home games against Liverpool, Chelsea, and Aston Villa; and away at the Hawthorns. The one loss was being just edged by Manchester United last month.
When Anita and/or Gouffran played, results were dramatically different: 5 wins, 17 losses, and eight draws. Relegation form. Next come those results broken down some.
When both played, we collected two wins, six losses, and a draw. When only Anita played we collected a win, four losses, and a draw. When only Gouffran played we collected two wins, seven losses, and six draws.
Even these dismal statistics come with asterisks.
When you look at our two wins when both played, all three of our goals came after Anita was taken off (the wins against Leicester and Spurs). Our only goal in the draw that only Anita played in (against Stoke) came when he was off the pitch. During the draws that only Gouffran played in, four goals were scored by us when he was off the pitch.
For me, the statistics speak for themselves. If I was John Carver I would never feature Anita and Gouffran in a starting eleven again. No matter how thin the squad is, there’s no room for purely negative players.
I’ll close with one other fact I noticed: Gouffran played at least 45 minutes all five times we lost by three goals or more this season (five smashings!).
He lodged a mere 18 minutes the one time we smashed a team. To his credit he did manage to score a deflected goal to make it 0-3 against Hull.