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Are these stats just coincidence or are teams learning how to play Newcastle United?

5 years ago

No sensible person is suggesting that this Newcastle United season is heading for the rocks but there are a number of worthwhile debates regarding maybe some rethinking or retuning being needed.

United remain second top and on course to bounce straight back to the Premier League but where are the areas of concern.

Well, I think these stats may point to what is an area open to improvement.

After the dismal opening defeat against Fulham, Newcastle United played 19 matches (all competitions) and only the 2-0 home defeat to Wolves saw NUFC fail to score.

However, four of the last nine games (incl Hull City 90 minutes normal time) have seen United fail to score a goal.

Is it just bad luck, bad finishing/creating, or are other clubs working Newcastle United out?

Well in these four recent matches where Newcastle failed to score in the 90 minutes, as well as the Sheffield Wednesday match  we had Hull City who have conceded 44 in 20 Premier League games, only Swansea having conceded more.

Whilst Blackburn have managed only three clean sheets in their 25 Championship matches – a goalless draw at home to Ipswich and the two games against Newcastle.

For all Newcastle dominated almost the entire match at Ewood Park and had 25 shots, only five were on target and many were from long range as United failed to break through.

The home game six weeks ago against Rovers was even worse with only two Newcastle efforts on target, whilst against another relegation struggler, Cardiff City, Newcastle only delivered four shots on target.

It was a similar story against Sheffield Wednesday and Burton, with only four attempts on target in both games, whilst at Forest there were only three (although played with nine men half the game).

The rarities are the likes of Wigan and Forest (man sent off) when Newcastle had eight efforts in each on target.

Newcastle are still dominating possession in most matches but the ability to split the opposition defence and/or get attempts on target is a struggle.

It isn’t just a Jonjo Shelvey thing either, as he has missed just the last three games.

The problem that comes with creating so few chances on target is that when the other team score the first goal, Newcastle very rarely, if ever, come back and win. In fact I can only think of the Norwich match when Newcastle have been behind at any time during a match and came back to get anything.

Wolves, Blackburn and Sheffield Wednesday at home all saw defeats with Newcastle failing to score, the same in the games at Fulham and Blackburn. Against Huddersfield at home, Newcastle did level at 1-1 bt went on to lose 2-1.

It remains to be seen whether Rafa Benitez continues his belief in the safety first tactics where Newcastle look to squeeze the opposition and eventually force a goal, rather than a more attacking formation. The tactics have got Newcastle into the top two at this stage but do they need a slight revamp and/or a change of personnel?

Of course it is players and not systems that win games and whilst Dwight Gayle has an outstanding 19 goals, the next highest are Ritchie and Gouffran with four Championship goals each. If anything is missing it appears to be that second supporting goalscorer to get well into double figures.

Back in 2009/10 Newcastle had Carroll and Nolan both scoring 17 each, Lovenkrands with 13 and Shola 10.

Will this second goalscorer be who Rafa Benitez has his eye on most in January, rather than any rethinking of tactics?


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