Veering on one quarter of the 12/13 Premier League season already completed and Newcastle United have had somewhat of an indifferent start to their 19th modern day campaign in England’s top flight.
Lady lucky shone through the murky sleet –threatening skies at St James’ yesterday, as an injury time Sammy Ameobi shot deflected off the back of goal-hunting Papiss Cisse and landed in WBA’s far corner to secure 3 points. That, after a very lacklustre and uncreative performance from the Black & Whites.
This time last season, Newcastle were sat in the dizzy heights of 4th place in the Barclay’s Premier League, claiming 19 points from their opening 9 games – 5 wins, 4 draws and alongside only Man City, yet to lose a game. 12 goals rattled in and just 6 conceded had NUFC fans dreaming of the prospect of European football once more, even at that early stage of the season.
This year, the summary after 9 games is very different. Newcastle are just say rearing their heads in the top half of the league, languishing in 10th place having taken just 13 points from a possible 27. The win against WBA was only NUFC’s 3rd of the season, with 4 draws and 2 defeats also incurred. 11 goals have been notched similarly to last season, but in conceding 13 goals, Newcastle are over double that of this time last season, highlighting where their main weakness obviously lies.
A look at the numbers to dig deeper into those frailties highlights some interesting points. Just half of every ground 50-50 duel and aerial 50-50 duel that NUFC have entered into this season so far has been won which is pretty low for a team with high table aspirations – so too their tackling success at just 71%, an uncharacteristic set of values for a team that took pride on their team spirit and cohesion last campaign.
6 defensive errors already this season is another worrying statistic when you consider that only 13 were made in the whole of last season – following in this vain would see NUFC make 24 errors by the 38th game!
Most NUFC fans will know that Newcastle’s backline have the ability to put these stats right and that the shaky number thus far have a lot to do with the inconsistency of the personnel in them. Newcastle have been ravaged by injuries to defensive players – Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Simpson and Tim Krul all missing games of late due to injury.
Those same fans will also say that although conceding goals has been a problem, Newcastle have not been the most creative and threatening of sides this season. Just 8 chances per game on average have been created by the Toon so far with just 3.7 shots on target per game and average possession of 47.9%.
Looking at the attacking values for the first 9 games last season compared to this and again some interesting numbers come to light. 6 out of the 10 values represented in the table have decreased compared to last season including shots, possession, chances created and attacking 3rd passes. Within the remaining 4