Just 4 games to go now! 6 wins on the spin, 1 short of NUFC’s best ever win run in the Premier League (1996) and Champion’s League football still a strong possibly, albeit reliant on Chelsea’s performance now in the final this year.
Newcastle are looking to end the season in one of the best purple patches the club has been through in the top flight, many crediting the change of formation to a more attacking and player-suiting 4-3-3 for the superb performances of late.
Quite a bold statement to make, as NUFC have never been lower than 7th for the entirety of the season, but it does make one wonder of the impact the change of formation has had, particular when NUFC are yet to drop points using it!
So, a look at some of the numbers was in order…
2 things stand out like a sore thumb here – assists and goals conceded. Newcastle have produced 50% more assists since reverting to 4-3-3 and only conceded 1 goal in 540 minutes of Premier League football using that system.
The graph illustrates the changes in fortune with the aforementioned assists and goal conceded, but also how NUFC’s goal scoring has improved.
In terms of creating chances, the new system hasn’t been more or less effective really; Newcastle have had the ability to score in every fixture this season and is the main reason behind their good season.
Looking at the chances created in the last 6 games where the 4-3-3 has been applied, it can be seen how more ‘free-flowing’ Newcastle’s play has become and that, other than the right dominant Liverpool game, the spread of NUFC’s creativity is far larger than it was earlier in the season.
The right side in particular is far more effective for NUFC now, where at the beginning of the season, they had one of the lowest percentages for attacks and shots from that side. The introduction and consistency of Hatem Ben Arfa has undoubtedly had a positive effect on the teams attack.
A look at the actual goals from the same 6 games shows firstly the impact of Papiss Cisse – 9 goals in 6 games, an incredible return from the Senegalese man in his first season in the English top flight. 2 goals each from Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye make up the 13, the French pair having notched just 3 and 2 times respectively prior to the change in formation.
The graphic highlights the areas in which Cisse in particular does his work and that good service from the likes of Ba, Ben Arfa, and the higher playing Cabaye into the penalty area generally ends up with work for the opposing GK to do or a rippling of the net!
It may be too soon to make much of the numbers in the new system, but most of the Geordie faithful will admit that Newcastle look a far better outfit in this more attacking formation, a system that is getting the best out of the more flair and able players.
It hasn’t all been about the goals though, just 1 goal conceded in the 6 games shows that although NUFC’s attacking options have been bolstered, it isn’t having any detrimental effect on defending. Credit must go to the back 5 and midfield players like Jonas and Tiote for that.
Here’s hoping it continues and Newcastle finish with as many points as possible – the Magpie worshipers wait in hope of the Black & White’s European fate…« Is the Europe League as bad as people make out? | Pardew calls for focus »