This might not be the most popular opinion after West Ham 2 Newcastle 0
It finished West Ham 2 Newcastle 0.
Everybody connected to Newcastle United disappointed with the scoreline, after the recent upturn of four wins and only one defeat in the previous six Premier League games.
Going into the game, some Newcastle fans had dared to even be looking up the table.
With defeats already for Bournemouth and Leicester this weekend and a very likely one for Everton against Liverpool later this afternoon. If Newcastle had beaten the Hammers then you would have had Premier League placings 9th to 13th separated by only two points, Everton & West Ham on 36 down to Newcastle in 13th on 34 points. A top half finish very much a possibility, especially with Everton at St James Park next Saturday and away to Bournemouth (in terrible form) the following weekend.
Instead of course, the reality is that Newcastle lost and we are once again looking below us, grateful that Burnley, Huddersfield, Southampton and especially Cardiff, also lost.
Going back to our match at the London Stadium though, was Newcastle’s performance really all that bad?
I see Rafa Benitez has taken a bit of stick for suggesting Newcastle might have got something out of the game, the Newcastle boss pointing to certain stats…but might he have a point?
These are the stats from Newcastle’s last six games, showing total number of shots, how many were on target, then number of corners for NUFC (stats from BBC Sport):
West Ham 2 Newcastle 0 (17 shots, 2 on target, 6 corners)
Newcastle 2 Burnley 0 (13 shots, 3 on target, 4 corners)
Newcastle 2 Huddersfield 0 (29 shots, 12 on target, 12 corners)
Wolves 1 Newcastle 1 (9 shots, 3 on target, 1 corner)
Tottenham 1 Newcastle 0 (8 shots, 2 on target, 3 corners)
Newcastle 2 Man City 1 (7 shots, 2 on target, 1 corner)
If you ignore the Huddersfield match (really poor opposition who had to play almost entire match with 10 men), I think you see surprisingly little difference between the other five matches.
I certainly don’t see the stats from West Ham 2 Newcastle 0 being in any way worse than the other four.
Leaving aside that Huddersfield match, in all of their last five games, Newcastle have had only two or three shots on target.
Rafa’s team had more shots against the Hammers, indeed twice as many as in the Spurs, Man City and Wolves matches, as well as four more than the Wolves game.
As for corners it is the same story, the six yesterday are more than these other four games.
I haven’t bothered with possession stats because as a counter-attacking team the amount of possession doesn’t always tell you a lot, as it depends what you actually do with it. However, these stats are surely the relevant ones, number of corners and shots (whether on target or not) indicative of how much time you spend threatening the opposition.
In fact, maybe the story of West Ham 2 Newcastle 0 was more a case of them doing ‘a Newcastle’ on Rafa’s team, an excellent defensive display that gave the visitors few clear chances and then took their (West Ham’s) chances when they came along (West Ham only had one corner and four shots on target).
As usual yesterday, Rafa Benitez would have been depending on a strong resolute defence. However, that normally very good defensive line gave away two very bad goals at set-pieces.
It was almost a reverse of say our win over Burnley the other night, Newcastle scored twice and only had three shots on target, one goal of course a thunderbolt out of the blue from Schar.
I don’t think Newcastle have been playing as well recently as some people have been making out and I don’t think they played as badly on Saturday as some (same people?) are making out.
The same same plan of try and make sure of a clean sheet and hope to sneak one at the other end.
Down at Wolves the story ended up being all about that late controversial equaliser but that covered up the fact that Newcastle only had one corner and three shots on target, the goal we did get was thanks to the Wolves keeper making a far worse error on Hayden’s very average shot, than anything Dubravka might have done wrong.
Against Man City, Newcastle got a 2-1 win despite only one corner and two shots on target, the reality being that the defence were mainly responsible for that result.
Rafa Benitez often talks about small margins and of course goals changing games. gifting one like yesterday’s after a few minutes away from home effectively made the game ten times more difficult for the Magpies.
I think I agree with what the stats are telling us, Newcastle are still some way off being a team who can go out and really take the game to the opposition.
Rondon is a good target man and striker but not a very good goalscorer in my opinion and whilst Almiron is a promising signing, reality is that anything we can from him this season is a bonus, as he needs time to settle in.
Newcastle still need far more creativity and goals added to this team and more quality in the wide areas.
A dose of reality above but West Ham 2 Newcastle 0 wasn’t any kind of a major drop in performance. Yes it wasn’t great but considering the gift of those two goals, I would say the team put in a fairly regular display, just without any luck going their way.
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