Had my negative cynicism really blinded me to what Steve Bruce was actually doing…?
The morning after the afternoon before [beating Everton 2-1 on Sunday], I took a look at the Premier League table to see this Steve Bruce led Newcastle United exactly where we’ve tended to be during the Mike Ashley era.
Eleventh of twenty teams: played 7, won 3, drawn 2, lost 2, goal difference -1. Not great, not bad, right in the middle.
A second look at the table brought something to my attention, though – we have scored 10. How have we scored 10? We don’t attack, do we? We went three games with only three shots on target! How the hell have Brucey’s Backfoot Mags hit TEN?!
To further emphasise the madness of this, Arsenal, Man City, Man Utd and Wolves all remain with a single-figure goals for column. How Man Utd have managed to achieve this, after scoring 4 against us and being awarded penalties after full-time, I have no idea.
Had I missed something? Had my negative cynicism blinded me to more shots than I had given the team credit for? Well, no. A quick look at the stats shows that only four teams have had fewer shots than Newcastle so far this season:
This won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has watched us regularly this season but meant that we had somehow scored 10 goals from only 60 total shots. This felt very high so I then looked at the percentage of total shots that resulted in a goal and found that only five teams have a better conversion rate than Newcastle:
Finally, I looked at the percentage of shots on target that resulted in a goal and found that Newcastle are comfortably top of this particular league:
Of course, 3 of our 10 goals have been penalties and these skew the conversion statistics in our favour but an amazing 31 penalties have already been awarded this season across the league. Leicester have had 5; Chelsea and Liverpool have also had 3 each; Brighton, Crystal Palace, Man Utd, Sheff Utd and Spurs have each had 2.
Callum Wilson, who has scored all 3 of those penalties, has scored 6 total goals from 7 shots on target. Penalties or no penalties, Newcastle United score a higher percentage of their shots on target than any other team in the Premier league.
Imagine how many goals we could score if we attacked more?
However, given our ongoing struggles with becoming a more attacking team, this clinical finishing has been vital in picking up the points that we have so far.
It remains to be seen whether Newcastle can become the forward-thinking team Steve Bruce has stated he desires but, in the meantime, he will be hoping that his team remains top of this particular table.
If we don’t, it won’t be the only table we begin to slide down.
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