With our paper-thin squad now just crossing the season half-way mark and our two talismen leaving for their respective international duties, NUFC’s starting XI is starting to need a little re-moulding.
Who will be given the mantle up front? Is Danny Guthrie really the man to replace Cheik Tiote? Will Danny Simpson keep his place? Same question for Gabriel Obertan? A total of 23 different players have worn the black & white shirt in the Premier League this season but who will be the names we go forward with?
NUFC_Stats has accumulated and presented all the relevant data to look at exactly ‘who is doing what’ at Newcastle United!
It’s fair to say that this has been our strongest unit thus far; keeping a consistent backline, certainly in the early stages of the season formed the base from which we built upon in games. Steven Taylor had arguably his best start to a Premier League season and alongside Captain Colo, the pair looked as solid as any.
Having said, since Mike Williamson returned to the starting eleven, NUFC have that solid look back. The Englishmen has 7/7 tackles to his name making him the only significant player makking 100% tackles, the others with very low numbers due to their inconsistent appearance. Danny Simpson, a ‘love/hate’ player amongst fans but an ever present this season alongside Tim Krul, has executed 39/45 tackles making his defensive contribution crucial, especially when you consider his 4 goal line clearances too!
However, when it comes to heading, Simpson and some ‘Co.’ are fairly weak. 14/33 aerial wins for Simpson and 23/49 for Colo compared to Steven Taylor, who is by far Newcastle’s best aerial threat defensively with 22/36 despite missing games. Williamson probably needs a few more games to asses him fairly (8/14) while again the other 100% aerial rates are due to low numbers of participation, like Danny Guthrie with just 1/1.
Newcastle United have fared pretty average in terms of controlling games this season; their average possession in games just 47.2%. From the data, Ryan Taylor has had more touches than any other NUFC player in the Prem but with that he loses possession more than any outfield player.
Danny Guthrie and Davide Santon have impressive distribution stats while Danny Simpson, Shola & Sammy Ameobi have produced somewhat disappointing rates! The numbers suggest Colo, Williamson and Tiote are the players you want on the ball, good pass success rates and even from the naked eye the guys are firm and controlled in possession.
A word on Tim Krul – as expected, his pass success is the lowest at the club, but he has also the 3rd worst pass rate of EVERY player who has featured 10+ times for their club in the entire Premier League. Only Paul Robinson (Blackburn) and Simon Mignolet (Sunderland) have worse!
Creating scoring chances and producing ‘magic’ in the attacking 3rd has probably been one of NUFC’s Achilles’ heels this season so far. The resurgence of Ben Arfa is beginning to ignite some of that innovative spark but for best part of the season, Ba and Co. have had been scraping the barrel and creating from very little.
Ryan Taylor, Jonas Gutierez, Yohan Cabaye and Danny Simpson have produced the higher frequency of crosses, although surprisingly Simpson has the best accuracy. For a wide player, Gabriel Obertan has very low numbers, especially when you consider the defensive nature of Jonas’ game compared to his, and his accuracy when producing crosses is terrible! He’s not alone though; despite featuring in short cameos this season, Sammy Ameobi has managed 10 appearances in total (1 start, 9 sub) and in that time produced 14 crosses. Not 1 of those crosses has been accurate.
When it comes to dribbling, Jonas is the man! He has managed 65, the most at NUFC, and Obertan has put together 35 next as expected. But, whilst the pair mean well, those dribbles aren’t the most accurate and possession is lost more than half the time these dribbles are executed.
Cheik Tiote doesn’t mind carrying the ball (21), so too Leon Best (15) and in Ben Arfa’s shows, he’s produced 22 dribbles. His success rate being the same as Demba Ba (27), a measly 41%.
This is all about creating chances though, and no one has done that more for Newcastle this season than Yohan Cabaye, mainly from set plays. Ryan Taylor has similar numbers to Cabaye, although he boasts a higher % of chances created from open play.
Moreover, Leon Best’s numbers prove he should be in the team and Obertan is very surprisingly the highest creator of chances from open play. Sammy Ameobi is yet to create a chance, so too Vuckic and Gosling in their short cameos.
When it comes to the old ‘onion bag’, it’s been a long, long time since NUFC had someone as prolific as Demba Ba! 15 goals in 17 Premier League starts says it all. He has managed no less than 60 shots in those appearances this season, more than double anyone else at the club and with a very impressive 63% accuracy!
Yohan Cabaye is another who knows where the target is, where as Ryan Taylor has had the same amount of efforts at goal, but hasn’t been great at getting them on target. The one we all know about is Gabriel Obertan, who’s ‘shots-to-on target’ ratio is nothing short of embarrassing – 1 shot on target from 19! Another slightly worrying statistic is the share of goals amongst the team; take out Demba Ba and it looks very bleak indeed!
So, here’s hoping for the Best’s, Ben Arfa’s and Ameobi’s etc to step to the plate in Ba’s temporary (hopefully) absence. Here’s hoping to a bit more innovation from those supporting the front players and here’s hoping for a successful transfer window; seeing good, quality in-comings and no displeasing ‘au-revoirs’!