The boxing day challenge is upon us once again! Newcastle United have lost their last 5 Boxing Day games and not picked up a win since 2001. To make matters worse, it may be troubled Bolton that the Toon are up against, but only 3 points have been picked up at the Reebok Stadium in the last 8 attempts. Sounds ominous eh!
Hardly the news that the black and white fans want to hear after the last 6 games. Only 2 points picked up from 18 and only 1 player scoring now in 7 and a half hours of football! After the flying start to the season, that all too familiar glumness is starting to subside.
However, flip it over, as its Christmas, and Newcastle actually lie 1 place and 5 points better off than this stage last season.
Bolton – Statistical statements:
Bolton have conceded the most goals in the PL with 39, 1 more than Blackburn.
They have only scored 1 goal less than NUFC.
Only Bolton and Swansea are yet to win a single point when losing – once they’re behind, they stay behind!
But, when ahead, they stay ahead. Only Bolton and NUFC are yet to drop a single point when winning, therefore along with NUFC, Bolton have always won when they’ve scored first. (NUFC have done it in 7 games, Bolton in 4).
The opposition have scored the first goal in 13 of Boltons 17 games, the worst record in the Premier League.
When drawing at half time, Bolton are the only team in he entire league to have not picked up any points.
Bolton have the joint worst record in their last 5 at home – just 3 points obtained.
Only Blackburn and QPR have less points from the last 8 games overall.
Bolton concede the most shots per game in the Premier League on average currently (18.6).
They’ve conceded 7 goals from set plays – 4 more than NUFC which is the 7th highest in the PL.
They produce the 2nd least amount of crosses per game on average in the PL.
Bolton don’t get into your box! Only 4% of their shots this season have been from inside the 6yrds box; thats the PL’s lowest.
Bolton – Stats v NUFC:
For once, Newcastle come up against a team completing less passes on average. Compared to the Geordies’ 5221, Bolton have amassed a marginally lower 5208 and NUFC’s pass succession percentage of 72.28 is also just higher than the Trotters’ 71.3%. The two sides have however created exactly same amount of chances in the Premier League thus far with 162.
From those chances, the Toon have racked up 171 shots, Bolton have registered just 146. For NUFC, that equates to a shot every 9 mins on average and 11 mins for Bolton. However, the Lancashire side hit the target every 20 mins on average, bettering Newcastle’s 23 mins, hence Bolton having a better shot accuracy (43% to 55%) and chance conversion rate (14% to 15%).
In Bolton’s armoury, Ivan Klasnic has 7 Premier League goals to his name this season and he and Martin Petrov have 4 assists each. Newcastle’s top players for assisting are Leon Best and Yohan Cabaye with just 2 each. Aerially, Gary Cahill is their main man; he fashions out a win in the air 3.1 times on average per game, coincidentally the same as Leon Best (10th best in the Premier League).
Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote should be the top tacklers in this one. The crunching duo put in 4.3 and 3.1 tackles per game respectively compared to Bolton’s top tackler Fabrice Muamba who manufactures 3 on average. And, when it come to the important passes, Petrov and Cabaye have supplied the most key passes of the two teams this season with 1.9 per game on average.
Mark Davies will be a player NUFC need to control. He is the top dribbler of these sides with 1.6 per game compared to Newcastle’s ‘Argy’ hotshot (or not) Jonas Gutierrez who puts in 1.3 per game. Chris Eagles is another to keep the eye on; he produces the most shots per game for Bolton (2.9 per game), whereas Demba Ba, unsurprisingly, does for Newcastle (3.4 per game).
Cheik Tiote is Newcastle’s ‘string-puller’ it would appear. He consistently completes the most passes for NUFC per game, his average currently 61.3 per game; significantly higher than Bolton’s highest passer Nigel Reo Coker at 47.6. Accuracy-wise, Mark Davies has the best completion rate with 88.4%; Colo is NUFC’s most successful passer out of the regular starters with a rate of 83.4%. However, Davide Santon may challenge that honour with more games under his belt, his passing succession currently stands at 86.7%.
How do we win this one? – The ‘RIGHT’ method:
Firstly, the right personnel with the right attitude will get us a win here. Having the Dreamboat back will be a huge lift and despite Davide Santon doing very well and deservedly keeping his spot, his absence wont be too much of a hit as Ryan Taylor does provide a good thrust on that left, not to mention a hell of a free kick too (although Demba may have something to say about those now!). It’s probably fair to say also that if Ben Arfa were to start instead of Best, a lot of the faithful would be happy and whether Obertan keeps his spot remains to be seen; ‘probable’ is the word!
His position on the right of midfield is going to be key! Check out the chalkboards of Bolton’s worst 6 defeats this season:
Highlighted on each chalkboard are the assists from the opposition of their goals scored against Bolton. Other than the fairly good opposition, a common trait of these assists is their origin. 13 out of 17 of those assists were produced from the right hand side, Bolton’s left. Bolton’s resident left back is 33 year old Paul Robinson (Mikel Alonso played there the last 2 games but is now out for 6 weeks with a suspected broken foot). If Newcastle/Obertan can ‘get’ at Bolton down their left, the rewards are there to be seen! Let’s hope Obertan, if playing, pulls one out of the bag.
In terms of keeping Bolton out, feast your eyes here:
The chalkboards here show Bolton’s assists in the only 4 league games they have won this season; the games they have scored the majority of their goals. 8 of the 11 assists have originated from the right hand side, highlighting Chris Eagles’ contribution to the team and his effectiveness. This means the Ryan Taylor/Davide Santon situation bears huge significance to Newcastle’s performance. While not many would argue of Santon up against Eagles and such, Taylor has been exposed way too many times this season in his unorthodox position and Owen Coyle will undoubtedly be looking for more of the same this time around. If Raylor plays, it is imperative that Colo looks to cover that area as much as possible and once again Jonas will be expected to provide as much support to his left back as he can, probably reducing his effectiveness going forward…again!
The festive optimism does fill your mind on this one and if Newcastle are going to put this ‘Boxing Day’ record to bed, now is as good a time as any. But, the last few games have shown a different side to Newcastle United and with Bolton struggling down at the foot of the table, they’ll be just as thirsty for the points.
NUFC_Stats prediction: 1-1