Newcastle have had a good week on the pitch with wins over Stoke and Luton; even if off the pitch headlines continue to occupy our thoughts. With the takeover dragging on it is becoming clear this is going to be a sticky January for us, with talk of Rafa now even having to sell before he can buy.
We all know we need a striker, so until one arrives, it may be worth persisting with Perez in the striking role up front. He scored the vital winner at Stoke and followed up with a brace against Luton, even if his overall play was quite poor. Here is why he could be the best stopgap we have…
He’s not a number 10..
On paper, Perez should be better suited to playing as a number 10 rather than a lone striker. He isn’t slow, has *some* skill and with good work rate should be a nice link between attack and defence. However, after lots of game time in that role he simply isn’t up to it. Far too often the game passes him by and when he receives the ball from the midfield he too often gives it away or is bullied from opposing players.
Despite his small frame, he is far more effective playing up front. He does make intelligent runs and is in the right areas to get chances. He also needs the play behind him; he struggles to run with the ball. He is an instinct player, like his goal last week, he prefers running on the shoulder of the last defender and his best finishing comes when he doesn’t have time to think about it. If you watch his goals for NUFC, the majority of them are instinct finishes.
Premier League experience
He’s still young at 24 but the Spaniard has the most Premier League experience of all of attacking options. He has not developed as well as we all hoped on Tyneside after showing such initial promise, but he has experience of both successful and unsuccessful seasons of avoiding the drop. He does have an excellent attitude and enables us to put pressure on opposing defences with a great work rate.
He isn’t the deadly attacker we need but that experience could be vital in the crucial fixtures coming up where we need points, like we did at Stoke. The real issue is that at 24 he shouldn’t be the most experienced Premier League we have. This is Joselu’s first season playing regularly in England, Gayle never got a run at Palace from the start and Mitrovic is way out of favour.
Scorer of important goals and on form
Perez has 7 and then 6 goals in his other two full top flight campaigns. Not enough granted but when he scores they tend to be big goals that result in points. I remember winners against Liverpool, West Brom home and away and the one at the Britannia last week was huge. His other goal at Southampton this season also helped us get a point. Another one against Swansea would do nicely indeed.
He got himself in the right areas to score two against Luton and seems to come alive in the box:
Team looks more solid with him in the side?
When he plays up front, whether it is a 4-5-1 or 4-4-2, as a team we look more solid. Gayle and Joselu have played together and we look disjointed and overrun in midfield. There doesn’t appear any relationship at all between the two of them. Perez formed a good partnership with Mitrovic when paired together with some nice link up play between the pair.
But more likely if he is to play up front it will be a 4-5-1 which we used to good effect at the start of the season when we were harder to beat. We returned to this for the win at Stoke and hopefully Rafa persists with it. Perez isn’t an excellent striker but when he plays up there the team looks better.
It is frustrating we have so little, if any, proven attacking options. Until we get new options in, what formation would you play and who makes you team up front?
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About Simon Riddlesden
Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.