Strange now to think that Jamaal Lascelles didn’t start the season as first choice at centre-back.
His form in the second half of last season was average at best, with the player only revealing after promotion was achieved, that he had played through the pain barrier and actually needed an operation.
Jamaal Lascelles then had injury issues that partly affected the pre-season preparations and with Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark impressing together in the friendlies, there were no real complaints amongst the fans when that pair started and Lascelles found himself on the bench.
However, with only seven minutes gone of that Spurs game, Paul Dummett was injured, Clark going to left-back and the captain going into the centre of defence. An injury to Lejeune then confirmed Lascelles would be back alongside Ciaran Clark for the upcoming matches.
Jamaal Lascelles was in the team when Newcastle picked up all four wins so far this season, in fact he has started all of the games where NUFC have picked up points, apart from the 2-2 draw at West Brom after Newcastle gifted a two goal lead with shocking defending…
These are the games that Jamaal Lascelles has started this season:
Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 0 Everton 1
Newcastle 0 Bournemouth 1
Burnley 1 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0
Southampton 2 Newcastle 2
Newcastle 1 Liverpool 1
Brighton 1 Newcastle 0
Newcastle 2 Stoke 1
Swansea 0 Newcastle 1
Newcastle 3 West Ham 0
Huddersfield 1 Newcastle 0
(Came on as a sub in Newcastle 0 Tottenham 2, the score staying until Shelvey’s red card)
Games where Jamaal Lascelles hasn’t been involved:
Newcastle 2 Leicester 3
Chelsea 3 Newcastle 1
Man Utd 4 Newcastle 1
West Brom 2 Newcastle 2
Newcastle 0 Watford 3
It is very hard to get away from the fact that in the 12 matches Lascelles started, Newcastle conceded 10 goals. Then in the 5 that he missed, NUFC leaked 15 – going from averaging less than one a game to three a game.
Especially striking that in the 12 starts, only Southampton saw more than one conceded and that was only because when Newcastle were leading 2-1 with 15 minutes remaining, Florian Lejeune gave away a totally needless penalty.
Looking at the five games Jamaal Lascelles recently missed.
Yes two of them were away to Man Utd and Chelsea, so the Magpies were always likely to lose. However, Dwight Gayle put Newcastle one up in both matches and would the team have so tamely given up those leads if the captain had been there to organise and cajole them?
I certainly look at the other three games he missed and conceding three at home to both Leicester and Watford, as well as two at West Brom, do you honestly think that would have all still happened if Jamaal Lascelles had been involved?
With Dwight Gayle scoring in three of his last five starts I think there is some room for optimism at both ends of the pitch.
If Newcastle can get back to conceding one or less in games and Gayle’s recent goalscoring form continues, it gives me renewed hope for these next five matches. leaving Man City at home to one side, the games with West Ham, Stoke, Brighton and Swansea are all games Newcastle could win, or at least get a point from.
The stats suggest to me that this is the case and now we just need to see the other nine players in the team contribute alongside Lascelles and Gayle.