A newly published table of Premier League stats sums up Newcastle’s defence this season.
Organised by Rafa Benitez and marshalled by captain Jamaal Lascelles, the back four has been the rock that Newcastle’s current seventh place has been built on.
With only eight goals conceded in nine matches, it is only the top trio of Spurs and the two Manchester clubs that have leaked fewer goals.
So how has this been achieved?
Whilst obviously number of goals conceded is the stand out guide, maybe you need to go beyond that to find out why some clubs are doing better than others.
The table below shows how many clearances have been made by each Premier League team so far.
Five of the top six when it comes to making the most clearances, are also five of the clubs to have conceded 10 or less goals.
The exception that maybe proves the rule is Everton, they are third top when it comes to making clearances but are also third bottom, having conceded the third highest number of goals (18). With their chaotic/clueless start, they have been left far too open at the back, so simply maybe a case of their defence seeing far too much of the ball.
Under Sean Dyche’s leadership, Burnley are top for clearances with 318, then Newcastle in second with 281.
Fair to say that leaving Everton aside, the five of the top six for clearances, are clubs that at least this season, are having to make it their business to have a solid defence to give them a chance of achieving better than expected, the three promoted clubs and relative minnows, West Brom and Burnley who have found relative success in recent seasons due mainly to a well drilled defence.
The totals for clearances suggest to me to a large degree of players having the desire and heart to get there first and clear the danger, plus having the discipline to go with it.
The presence of Man Utd and Man City in the bottom three of this table can be easily explained by the fact they have usually got the ball up the other end of the pitch. However, Liverpool have the second lowest total of clearances and one of the highest totals of goals conceded (16). Along with Palace (19 goals conceded) and West Ham (17 conceded) who make up the bottom five for clearances made.
Looking back, in Newcastle’s last two Premier League seasons, they ended up only 14th highest for clearances in the (2015/16) relegation season, and 16th the season before. Still relying on central defenders who were still hanging around from the Championship days of 2009/10 proving a disaster.
Premier League clubs total number of clearances this season:
Interesting to see if Rafa Benitez can inspire his players to keep up this level of consistency, desire, and discipline, throughout the season.