An incredible statistic has been highlighted by NUFC stat-man Chris Holt on Twitter, revealing that only Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea and Man Utd have conceded less goals than Newcastle over the last two Premier League seasons.
This is based on our 38 league games last season and the 13 games we’ve played so far in the 2018/19 season, however this really is proof of how well drilled we now are under Rafa Benitez – with us conceding just 63 goals in 51 games (an average of 1.24 per game).
— Chris Holt (@bigchrisholt) November 27, 2018
There are of course many factors for such a fine defensive record, but most stem from the work of Benitez and it makes you wonder how well he could do if Mike Ashley invested some real funds in attacking players.
Personnel has been important to our defensive solidity, with Rafa picking up superb buys in the likes of Schar, Fernandez, Lejeune and pivotally Dubravka, during the last 12 months. Lascelles has also come on leaps and bounds under the Spaniard and although out the side now, it is important to recognise how well he has played in helping us finish 10th last year. Dummett has improved to the point where he is a real miss when injured and Yedlin may still needs work but he also looks far more solid.
Benitez has the tactical nous to keep things tight, knowing we don’t have the players to often compete toe for toe with the top 6. This approach is criticised in mainstream media but the results speak for themselves, Rafa continues to keep NUFC out of trouble despite a wage bill which is only higher than 3 other sides in the top flight. We still have no quality cover a full back, which Rafa has overcome through formation changes – a key reason we came away with all three points from Turf Moor.
It isn’t pretty to watch but the team all know their roles and defend from the front; Diame has the most tackles of any Premier League player in 2018. While there is no investment in players, a defensive approach is the only way we can be successful and having such a goo defensive record is testament to our manager – a superb defence isn’t something often associated with Newcastle pre-Benitez, that’s for sure!