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George Burley questions Alexander Isak goal expectations with Newcastle United

1 year ago
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Alexander Isak has had an interesting introduction to life at Newcastle United.

As soon as his work permit went through, the 22 year old going straight into the starting eleven.

Alexander Isak scoring a quality goal at Anfield, then seeing an even better one ruled out due to a questionable VAR offside decision.

Three days later and the Sweden international made his St James’ Park debut, cleverly winning possession on 16 minutes just inside the Crystal Palace half, outpacing the defence and then with just the goalkeeper to beat…made the wrong decision. Attempting to lift the ball over the keeper he didn’t quite get it right and the Palace goalkeeper stayed big, the chance gone.

A whirlwind introduction to life at Newcastle United but what should be the expectations for Alexander Isak in his first Premier League season?

Player turned pundit George Burley has been addressing the question and it was put to him that 12 goals could be the right target, the striker’s season a personal success if scoring more than 12 Premier League goals, with anything less a disappointment.

Craig Burley talking to ESPN about Alexander Isak expectations at Newcastle United:

“If we are having an under or over of 12 (goals) for £70 million or whatever it (Alexander Isak transfer fee) is…a striker they have paid a fortune for, then we have a big problem.

“If you are over or under 12 (as a guide to expectations on Premier League goals, then there is a struggle.

“If you are a midfielder getting 12, then it is a decent season, if you are a striker getting 12 and you have played a lot of games, then it’s not particularly good.

“He is an international footballer and his goal against Liverpool was fantastic…but it turns out that it’s not that difficult to score against them.”

I had a look back and when George Burley was playing, Chelsea were the biggest club he played for.

In his final season there (1996/97), only nine Premier League players scored more than 12 PL goals and none of them were midfielders! Alan Shearer was top with 25 Premier League goals, then Ian Wright (23), Robbie Fowler (18), Solskjaer (18), Yorke (17), Sir Les Ferdinand 16 for Newcastle, Ravanelli (16), Dublin (14) and Le Tissier (13).

So even back then 25 years ago, only nine Premier League strikers scored more than 12 PL goals.

Last (2021/22) season there were ten PL players who scored more than 12 PL goals, 23 – Son and Salah, 18 – Ronaldo, 17 – Kane, 16 Mane, 15 – Vardy, De Bruyne and Jota, 14 – Zaha, 13 – Sterling.

A similar number of goalscorers getting more than 12 goals BUT a very different story back in 1996/97 when it came to which clubs they played for. Newcastle United of course finished runners-up for the second year in a row and had two of these nine goalscorers, but you also had Middlesbrough, Southampton, Villa and Coventry with players scoring more than 12 PL goals.

Fast forward to the present day and last season, eight of the ten scoring more than 12 PL goals all played for the ‘big’ / top six clubs. The only exceptions were Jamie Vardy and Palace’s Zaha – having an outstanding one-off goalscoring for fun season.

So basically, unless you play for one of those six clubs, the indications are that you will be a real stand out if scoring more than the 12 PL goals this season.

Looking back through the Newcastle United seasons in the Premier League, in 2003/04 we had Alan Shearer scoring 22 PL goals.

In the 18 years that followed, how many of those years saw a season where any Newcastle player scored more than 12 Premier League goals? The answer is, only three of those seasons!

In 2013/14 NUFC saw Loic Remy score 14 goals despite only 24 Premier League starts.

In 2012/13 we watched Demba Ba score 13 goals in only 19 PL starts before heading off to Chelsea in January 2013.

Whilst 2011/12 saw TWO different Newcastle players get more than 12 PL goals, Demba Ba with 16 and Papiss Cisse 13 in only 13 PL starts (and one sub appearance).

So, what about Alexander Isak?

Well the signs are very positive, playing for Real Sociedad who aren’t one of the dominant La Liga clubs, a 19 year old Alexander Isak kicked off the 2019/20 season and scored nine league goals from only 14 La Liga starts (plus sub appearances), then as a 20 year he went into the following (2020/21) season and scored 17 league goals from 30 La Liga starts (plus sub appearances).

So while his most recent season (2021/22) saw only six La Liga goals (26 starts plus sub appearances), the overall Alexander Isak profile (32 goals from 70 La Liga starts, plus sub appearances) is very good.

As Newcastle United fans we have already seen his ability in both games, goalscoring and all round talent.

In the past he hasn’t always played as the out and out centre-forward and so the possibility of Alexander Isak playing alongside Callum Wilson, not an either / or.

Personally, I think Alexander Isak will hopefully score somewhere around the 10-15 goals mark in the Premier League this season. Though I do think potentially we have somebody who could score a serious amount of goals this season and beyond, like all strikers though, much of the goal potential will also come down to just how good the service is to him and how well Newcastle United can play.

The prospect of ASM, Wilson and Bruno all coming back into the team and playing in the same side as Alexander Isak, well, it can’t come soon enough for me.

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