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Dwight Gayle – Why he deserves a proper chance now at Newcastle United

8 months ago

After such a high profile, critical missed chance at the weekend, this may appear a poor time to write an article asking for Dwight Gayle to be given more game time…

However, I’m sure there are a number of you out of there who just want to see a Newcastle team with an attacking presence and someone who can put the ball in the net.

I personally think Dwight Gayle can provide that answer.

The striker problem

What I’m sure everyone can agree on, is that we have a real striker problem.

Over the course of this Premier League season, the total goals our three strikers have scored is three.

The key problem behind this statistic is that our strikers have not been getting into goalscoring positions.

Through the season, Joelinton has been our sole striker and in the main it’s just been the case he hasn’t been getting any chances to take.

Likewise, whilst I think Andy Carroll can look sharp and a handful when fit, he seems to take on a supporting role when playing, having picked up five assists in the league this season, rather than taking up traditional number 9 positions.

Both Joelinton and Carroll are being played out of position, Joelinton working best on the left or behind the main striker, and Carroll’s best position at this stage in his career probably being just behind another forward player.

Below shows chart of attacking players and subtotal of the team excluding Gayle Shots, Big chances missed, and total of Goals plus big chances missed:

The below shows the rate at which attacking players and the team has shots, big chances, and total on goals and big chances missed:

The above stats provide extremely interesting reading.

The key thing I take away is the minutes per stats.

Taking the stat about shots per minute, Dwight Gayle has a shot more frequently than any other Newcastle United player (every 34 mins), with Joelinton taking over 50% more time (51 mins) to take a shot than Dwight Gayle does to pull the trigger, with ASM being the only player to get even close to the frequency of shots that Gayle has.

This becomes even more stark when you look at the minutes per big chance missed category.

Dwight Gayle missing big chances at a rate of almost four times more often than Joelinton does. If Gayle continued at this rate and had played the same number of minutes as Joelinton; he would have missed 30 big chances, which would be the most in the Premier League by a long way. Tammy Abraham, for context, missing 20 big chances as a league high.

Surely then, this goes back to what we saw at the weekend, Dwight Gayle missing big chances, that being a good reason to leave him out of the team…

However, what I see from Dwight Gayle is a natural striker.

When he plays, he naturally gets in the place to have the big chance because he is a goalscorer, sniffing out where the chance will come. Also, to miss big chances at a rate of every 80 minutes in such a negative Newcastle team, I think is quite remarkable.

In fact, whilst writing this, I had a thought that does Gayle have big chances at a rate higher than the remainder of the Newcastle team put together. The total big chances missed from the whole team (excluding Gayle) is 27 in 31 games, a rate of 1 every 103 minutes. Gayle (missing 1 every 80 mins) is missing more big chances himself than the total of all the other players in the team combined, quite incredible.

If you compare the total of goals plus big chances missed (this assumes all goals are big chances which is a flawed logic I admit) the team takes 51 mins to get a big chance, Gayle takes 67 minutes.

Based on the above stats, adding Gayle into the team will almost double the big chances the team has.This still leaves the question, it’s no good getting chances if you always miss them.

This reminds me of something Alan Shearer said on MOTD a number of years ago, about strikers (I can’t remember who it was about but it sticks in my mind); he said that as a striker you should not be worried if you are missing chances, because the fix to missing chances is easy. You should be worried if you are not getting chances as a striker.

To see Dwight Gayle miss chances so frequently is a good sign, he is getting in the right places when he plays, and I think the fix is giving him more game time, get him match sharp and he will score (let’s not forget his 402 mins is equivalent to only four and a half games in the season, with the majority coming from the bench, where it is hard to make an impact). This is a guy who has scored 20+ goals each of the past two most recent seasons he has been in the championship, we are talking about someone who knows how to put the ball in the net if fit and given game time.

How to be most effective with Dwight Gayle

Next time you see a game with Gayle in, I ask you to watch his movement, his positioning. Compare this to Joelinton the next time you watch a game. Gayle loves to sit on the shoulder of the last defender.

For Gayle to work most effectively you need players feeding the ball in behind the defence, spotting his runs, alternatively someone holding the ball up, occupying defenders to open up the space for Gayle to penetrate through.

Personally, I think Steve Bruce has both of these options in his arsenal especially against weaker premier league opposition. Bringing Shelvey into a more advanced central midfield position, rather than the holding role, will allow him to take the role of playmaker. Alternatively, a front two of Carroll and Gayle would give any defence a real headache with Carroll’s strength drawing in attention, allowing space for Gayle to exploit with his pace.

With the game in the week against Bournemouth, this would be the perfect opportunity to play a more attacking line up, with Newcastle having nothing to lose for that game and the remainder of the season.


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