It’s not nice being the pessimist (or is it realist?) all of the time, but lets call a spade a spade – Arsenal deserved to win the game on Monday. If it had have been Newcastle who had 23 attempts compared to 4 and the game ended in a draw, the sticky stuff would have hit the fan!
Newcastle have never learnt their lesson over the years – Theo Walcott loves playing the Toon! He has tortured the black and whites in nigh on every game he has played in recent years, scoring goals, laying on goals and generally wreaking havoc on nearly every left back Newcastle have put out.
Having said all of that, Newcastle United did their damnest against Arsenal, and if a point had have been the outcome, it would have been a very hard fought, if not slightly fortunate one. The effort and desire of the majority of the team cannot be questioned.
However, this article does not originate from the worry regarding lack of effort or passion. More concerning is the way NUFC are shipping in goals of late, particularly away from home.
In their last 8 Premier League away games, the Mags have seeped in 20 goals. In their last 8 Premier League games overall, they’ve leaked in. That’s 2 goals per game, with the division’s average currently 1.4 – NUFC’s overall 41 conceded goals is 2 over the average.
Furthermore, those 16 goals in the last 8 is 10 more than the number of goals conceded in the first 8 games of the season. A time when our defence could do no wrong; a time when, with 3 English players, the country was raving of our superb back line and touting those players as possible England candidates.
The dreaded injury to Steven Taylor did nothing to sustain NUFC’s brilliant defensive record – in the 14 games where the Geordie boy participated, only 13 goals were conceded. That’s a ratio of 0.93 goals conceded per game. In the 14 games since, Newcastle have let in 28 – that 2 goal per game ratio cropping in again.
NUFC_Stats took a glance into the numbers for Newcastle’s defensive players this season and interrogated the whereabouts of the goals conceded in the Premier League.
A lot of the above numbers reflect the playing time which some of the players have had, but the percentage values shine some interesting light on some defensive aspects.
It will probably come to the surprise of some, but Danny Simpson is the one that NUFC probably need more than anyone at the moment. He has the best tackle involvement and tackle win rate out of all of the Newcastle defenders.
Another surprising one, will be the ground duel success of James Perch. He has a better percentage for ground duels won than any defensive player at NUFC this season. He also happens to be Newcastle’ best defender aerially, winning only 6 aerial duels less than the ever-present Simpson, but having the best percentage again.
A simply amazing statistic beams out from the above – the fact that Steven Taylor, despite missing half of the campaign thus far, has made more total and successful headed clearances than anyone at Newcastle United in the Premier League this season.
He’s also made the same amount of successful ‘total clearances’ as Argentinian centre back Fabricio Coloccini, but Danny Simpson is the ‘prevailer’ overall with 71. Mike Williamson has made just 15 fewer headed clearances than Colo from 15 less appearances.
Only the Taylor’s have made an error this season that has led to a shot, but Raylor and Simpson have made errors leading to goals from the opposition. Simpson can be let off for this though, having made 6 goal line clearances – more than any other player in the Premier League.
Where the goals have leaked
Quite definitive from the graphic that the central zone between the penalty spot and the goal has been the problem area this season. However, there aren’t many that have been slid in from the angle, which probably again highlights Tim Krul’s presence this season.
Also, the number of goals conceded from outside the 18 yard box is pleasing, especially when you consider that NUFC have allowed a higher percentage of shots from that area than any other Premier League side (72%) this season.
Further to that, NUFC have conceded the least percentage of shots from the left hand side in the whole division (14%) and the 3rd least from the right (15%).
Although NUFC appear to allow a lot of crosses this season, only 6 goals have been conceded from the ‘wide flank’ area. Moreover, to concede directly from just 1 corner in 28 games so far is also pretty satisfying – on initial reflection of the goals conceded, it was thought that those aerial values would have been a lot higher.
It is that central area that causes Newcastle problems; teams have been getting right through the ‘heart’ of NUFC all season and the graphic shows that once in there, if the goal is not conceded straight by the ball holder, a teammate is usually thereabouts to help.
Finally, a quick look at the goals conceded numbers for the 14 games in which Steven Taylor played shows that the problematic central area is still evident, but the amount of assists occurring in there is completely nullified.
Most fans would agree that the failure to purchase a good, experienced central defender in the January window was a big mistake. While Mike Williamson is a good contender aerially, he lacks mobility and guile on the ground and the quick, agile forwards get their way far too easily around him.
Steven Taylor has been a massive miss in the heart of Newcastle’s defence and the cover the team has at the moment is simply not good enough for a Premier League club challenging for European places.
While Danny Simpson and Davide Santon have their moments, the jury is still out on their Premier League ability, particularly Santon. Most fans seem to have made their minds up on Danny Simpson but you have to consider Man Utd’s lenient stance on his departure in the first place – would they have let a ‘European-class’ defender leave?
There isn’t anything anyone can do from now until the season’s end – here’s just hoping the season doesn’t flutter out into a mediocre placed finishing campaign, when so much hard work and endeavour has gone into getting the club where they are at present.
Norwich next, and Newcastle owe them one, BIG TIME!