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Newcastle United star easily tops these Premier League stats but is it all meaningless now?

2 weeks ago
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Andy Carroll could be in line for a recall this weekend.

With Callum Wilson picking up an injury at Southampton and looking set to miss, then Dwight Gayle still out for the foreseeable, it looks like a straight choice between Andy Carroll or Joelinton to play up front.

Or both of them…

As it happens, a new stats report has been launched ahead of Saturday’s game at St James Park.

Andy Carroll easily topping this new Premier League stats report…but is it all meaningless now?

These stats from The Other 14 (they specialise in stats on the 14 who aren’t the ‘big six’) show the players who have won the most heading duels, over the course of the eight PL rounds of games so far this season:

As you can see, Andy Carroll is way out in front, averaging 13.17 headed duels every 90 minutes.

Two other centre-forwards come next, then the next highest (Tomas Souceck) hasn’t even won half as many per 90 minutes as Andy Carroll, the West Ham midfielder averaging 6.00 headed duels won per 90 minutes.

The thing is, do these stats of the three strikers at the top actually amount to anything positive?

Andy Carroll hasn’t scored a Premier League goal for over 31 months.

Oliver McBurnie hasn’t scored a PL goal since 11 July 2020 and only two in the last 10 months.

Sebastien Haller meanwhile, has managed only one PL goal in the last nine months.

The three of them win a lot of headed duels but very rarely, if ever, score, so are these type of players outdated?

Under Steve Bruce, the ball is repeatedly knocked long whenever Andy Carroll is on the pitch but even if he wins the header, he is usually so isolated the opposition get possession. It was the same when / if Joelinton is playing, long balls that, even if he wins them, usually were / are pointless as the opposition then get the ball quickly regardless. With  Callum Wilson the pattern has been repeated, even though he isn’t a target man, Newcastle hitting it long and Wilson fighting a lonely battle to not only win the initial header but then also somehow keep possession.

Newcastle’s ‘style’ of repeatedly hitting the ball long is outdated and so seemingly are these type of players at the top of the stats, even when they are winning so many headed duels in open play.

It is a very different story when you look further down the list and see Dominic Calvert-Lewin with a decent stat of 4.76 headed duels per 90 minutes. The difference is that he is also a very mobile striker and Everton are now playing decent football with Ancelotti, especially when having their better creative players on the pitch. They have been working the ball up the pitch in a number of games and then the delivery into the box has been decent, allowing the striker to attack the ball and get plenty of success, both on the ground and especially in the air.

We are now increasingly having this wider debate of the damage too much heading of the ball may have on football players, especially linking it with a possible increased risk of dementia.

That is obviously the number one concern, the health of players.

However, maybe there are other reasons as to why cutting down on the number of headers is far more productive for players and their teams overall, strikers (and other players) winning lots of headers in matches in open play may well be largely irrelevant and indeed of little use, if any, in helping affect results positively.

When it comes to who plays up front on Saturday, my money is most definitely on Steve Bruce not changing a thing, Karl Darlow and his defenders under orders to repeatedly hit it long, gifting possession to Chelsea and making the chances of a positive result far more unlikely.

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