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Michael Owen identifies biggest problem at Newcastle United

2 weeks ago
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Michael Owen has pointed out the major weakness that Newcastle United have.

That is of course, if you forget about Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce…

Michael Owen declaring…’Newcastle are still winless and are conceding too many chances.’

Seven weeks into the season and it is Wolves later today for NUFC, as Steve Bruce tries to recover from a disastrous start, only three points from a possible 18 and a League Cup exit at home to Burnley.

Looking at the stats below, for once you can’t argue with Michael Owen.

Only rock bottom Norwich have conceded more goals (16) than Newcastle United’s 14, whilst only Leeds have faced more shots on target (41) than the 36 Newcastle have faced.

Quite amazing for somebody who was a very good central defender, just what a mess Steve Bruce has made out of Newcastle’s defensive capability. Having conceded only 47 and 48 goals in Rafa’s two Premier League seasons (only six clubs conceding less each time), under Steve Bruce it has been 58 and 62 goals conceded in 2019/20 and 2020/21, this season promising to be even worse unless a decent manager is brought in at St James Park.

Number of efforts on target Premier League teams have faced in first six Premier League games (in brackets, how many of those efforts on target became goals) of 2021/22 season:

41 (14) Leeds

36 (14) Newcastle United

33 (16) Norwich

32 (9) Tottenham

31 (10) Leicester

30 (9) Watford

30 (2) Chelsea

29 (11) Burnley

28 (9) Crystal Palace

26 (10) Arsenal

25 (5) Wolves

23 (8) West Ham

22 (5) Man Utd

22 (7) Everton

20 (7) Southampton

19 (5) Brentford

19 (7) Aston Villa

18 (4) Liverpool

16 (5) Brighton

6 (1) Man City

Michael Owen declares ahead of today’s match at Molineux: ‘I’ve been writing all season that Wolves have been playing well, creating chance after chance, but haven’t been taking them.’

Difficult to argue with that assessment either, as Wolves have had 87 shots in their six Premier League games so far, with only Liverpool, Man Utd, Man City and West Ham having had more.

Having conceded only five goals in six PL matches, it appears obvious that Wolves don’t have major issues there. Whilst after losing their opening three PL games 1-0 without scoring a goal despite their general play not deserving of losses to Leicester, Spurs and Man Utd, these last trio of games have included 2-0 and 1-0 wins over relegation strugglers Watford and Southampton respectively. A major pointer to Wolves starting to find the goals that can win games and still retaining that defensive discipline.

Having scored 30 goals in 73 PL starts in his first two seasons, Raul Jimenez was needed even more last season after the sale of Jota to Liverpool. However, that horrific incident that saw the Mexican striker fracture his skull, meant it was a tough 2020/21 season for Wolves and especially the striker himself.

The talismanic forward is now back fully fit for Wolves and scored his first goal of the season to beat Southampton last time out.

With Newcastle still waiting for their own talismanic striker to return…without Callum Wilson at least until after the international break, you look at the stats and can’t really argue with the Michael Owen prediction of 1-0 to Wolves.

Watford were woeful last week and so wide open that Newcastle were gifted chance after chance, yet could only score thanks to a decent long range Sean Longstaff effort that Ben Foster totally messed up, palming the ball into the top corner instead of over the bar.

Against Watford, Newcastle were allowed a massive (by Bruce’s NUFC standards) 20 shots. However, against Wolves it is impossible to think it will be anything remotely close to that. Last season, Newcastle rarely crossed the halfway line at Molineux and had only five shots to sixteen for Wolves, the home side also dominating with 63% possession. The stats showed Newcastle having one effort on target in the first 88 minutes but I couldn’t remember one, Bruce getting incredibly lucky then when with a minute to go, a shockingly poor set-up wall was punished by Murphy’s clever free-kick to rescue a 1-1 draw.

Jimenez was the man who had put Wolves in front last October and you wouldn’t rule it out happening again this time.

I think for Newcastle to stand a chance of even getting a point today, we need to find a goal from somewhere and somehow NUFC matching the Wolves defensive discipline (only the top three have conceded less goals than Wolves).

Is Steve Bruce capable of producing that? We’ll soon find out…

Michael Owen talking to BetVictor:

“I’ve been writing all season that Wolves have been playing well, creating chance after chance, but haven’t been taking them.

“Last week’s win at Southampton was the opposite, they didn’t create much but took the chance that came their way.

“It was brilliant to see Raul Jimenez back on the scoresheet after so long on the sidelines.

“Newcastle played well in spells away at Watford last week and should have added to their one goal lead when they had it.

“Watford came back to draw the game and could even have won it late on with Josh King’s disallowed goal.

“Newcastle are still winless and are conceding too many chances.

“That was a big win for Wolves last week and I fancy them to build on it here.

“I don’t see there being much between these two but I fancy Wolves to narrowly edge it.

“Prediction is Wolves 1 Newcastle 0.”

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