Newcastle United host Norwich in the Premier League this weekend in the hope that they won’t have to rely on stoppage time to get a result against their opponents.
Stoppage time isn’t anything to be sniffed at or snubbed; it’s been an ally to Newcastle in recent weeks. Their last Premier League outing saw them snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat with two late, late goals from Florian Lejuene.
A French defender who hadn’t scored in any of his previous 44 games for the Toon, Lejeune was as unlikely a goalscorer as anyone could have predicted. To score two goals in a minute was particularly extraordinary given that Newcastle hadn’t had a shot on target until his first. This all seems like a pub quiz collection of anomalies but it may be more than that.
The only team with a superior expected goals record is Liverpool. Newcastle have been scoring from unexpected positions (through unlikely sources) all season and if they weren’t defying these odds, they would be anchoring the table with the league’s lowest points tally.
Instead, Norwich are holding the rest of the league up. Six points from safety, the Canaries can only look with envy at Newcastle’s comparably lofty position of 14th (with a seven-point buffer between them and the dropzone).
While fortune has played a part in the getting Newcastle to their current position in the table, so has set-piece proficiency. No team across Europe’s top five leagues has scored more goals from set-pieces than Newcastle.
Their tally of 12 goals represents half of the goals they’ve scored in the Premier League in total. Both of the aforementioned late goals that they scored against Everton came from moves that started with set-pieces.
The week before they beat Chelsea with another winner at the death, this time through Isaac Hayden. Once again, the move started from a Newcastle corner.
Keeping these patterns of play in mind is handy for anyone betting on Newcastle matches. With the help of Premier League Experts Predictions, it’s easy to keep track of the statistical likelihoods of a game involving the Toon Army. Jonjo Shelvey is Newcastle’s top scorer in the league this season. He’s one of 13 players to score for Newcastle in the Premier League.
Knowing the set-piece threat they pose, Newcastle can have scorers from all areas of the pitch. Backing a defender like Clark or Fernandez to score (as they both have twice already) is an educated risk as they’re both tall targets for set-piece takers.
Norwich have threats of their own, Teemu Pukki being the most pertinent example, and beat Newcastle back in August. That was at Carrow Road, one of only two stadiums Norwich have managed to win in this season. Their record away from home is the worst in the division and we don’t foresee improvement on that record in this match.
Newcastle look the likelier team to pick up three points but the safest bet would be on a relatively low-scoring affair. Both teams have been struggling in front of goal so bet against both teams scoring.