Seven games into the season and it’s fair to say we’ve enjoyed the majority of what we’ve seen thus far, however there’s one player who continues to get into the side at some fans’ bemusement – and that’s Ayoze Perez.
Some intriguing stats have been uncovered this week however, suggesting just why Rafa Benitez may be continuing to keep faith in the Spanish number 10. Opta stats revealed this week that aside from the industrious Matt Ritchie, no Newcastle United player has covered more ground this season than Ayoze Perez (1st Ritchie: 78.48km / 2nd Perez 73.63km / 3rd Merino: 69.59km).
The Spaniard, who is often guilty of being too lightweight, has ran an impressive 73.63km in 7 games this season – a tally that betters that of fellow hard working midfielders Mike Merino, Isaac Hayden and Christian Atsu.
Several fans have called for him to be dropped after a particularly ineffective display in the 1-0 defeat to Brighton, but perhaps this explains just why Benitez still sees him as a key figure?
Yes we aren’t blessed with options in the number 10 role, so there’s a real lack of alternatives, but as The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas explains here, Perez does appear to follow Benitez’s defensive instructions, with his running helping us defend from the front.
Hear 'Why does Perez keep getting picked?' quite a bit. Well, this pic.twitter.com/hj2DoEt91C
— Mark Douglas (@MsiDouglas) October 2, 2017
One thing I would say is this. Despite all of his running, I do often find Perez lacks real intensity in a lot of what he does. Yes he won’t stop running, but you rarely see him break into a sprint or throw himself into a challenge to win back a potential loose ball? It’s all a bit wishy washy at times, and I think that’s sometimes what bothers so many of us.
My issue is not with his effort however, it’s with his final ball. He’s clearly a confidence player, which doesn’t help at St James’ Park in particular, but far too often he fails to deliver in those areas we really need him to show some attacking quality.
This stat proves he does do a ‘job’ in the team, however I really hope he can regain that flair and confidence that he seemed to have so much of when he first burst onto the scene at Newcastle.