It is remarkable just what an influence the presence of Jamaal Lascelles has had on the Newcastle team.
With 27 matches played, Newcastle are in 13th place in the Premier League with 28 points.
An overwhelming 27 of those points have been gained when the Captain has started games.
Rafa Benitez of course has to take the overall credit for guiding the team to such a decent position after being undermined by Mike Ashley.
However, clearly it is necessary for the United boss to have somebody he relies on to implement his ideas and tactics, keeping the players on focus.
Here are the stats:
Jamaal Lascelles starts – Played 21 Won 7 Drawn 6 Lost 8
Jamaal Lascelles doesn’t start – Played 6 Won 0 Drawn 1 Lost 5
Jamaal Lascelles starts – 27 points from possible 63
Jamaal Lascelles doesn’t start – 1 point from possible 18
However, it is when it comes to goals conceded that you really see Lascelles’ impact:
Jamaal Lascelles starts – 19 goals conceded in 21 games
Jamaal Lascelles doesn’t start – 17 goals conceded in 6 games
In 18 of the 21 matches Jamaal Lascelles started, Newcastle have conceded either one or zero goals.
The exceptions being the 3-2 win at West Ham, 2-2 draw at Southampton and the 3-1 defeat at Man City.
The only point Newcastle have gained without Jamaal Lascelles was a 2-2 draw at bottom club West Brom, after the Magpies had gifted them a 2-0 lead…
You can get stats in a handful of matches that are all but meaningless but once you get to 21 games worth, it has to be taken notice of.
Despite this, week after week you get pundits predicting Newcastle are going to lose by two or three goals, or worse.
He isn’t the finished article yet but I honestly think that nobody else could have had this overall benefit to the Newcastle team this season.
Plus on top of everything else, Lascelles also scored the winners against Stoke and Southampton, as well as the goal that earned a point against Burnley.
I don’t really care whether Gareth Southgate has got his number and if he’s getting on a plane to Russia…I just hope Jamaal Lascelles stays fit in these remaining 11 matches, because I’m very confident that his presence will ensure there is no chance of relegation.