Were Newcastle lucky in the first half of the season? The popular expected goals statistics suggested that they were. Getting goals from unusual places through unusual sources, the Magpies defied expectations. They defied statistical evidence.
If they were performing so badly then how were they as high as tenth in the table at the halfway mark of the campaign? In a way, you could call their statistical defiance luck.
If it was luck then it has run out in recent weeks. They have failed to win nine of their last ten Premier League matches. They haven’t even managed to score a goal in their last three.
They are the joint-lowest scorers in the division and it was only the heroics of Martin Dubravka that kept Crystal Palace level with Newcastle on 24 goals.
The Slovak goalkeeper made brilliant saves throughout but could do nothing to stop Patrick van Aanholt from finding the back of the net with a brilliant free-kick. It was no less than Palace deserved. Now 14th and only seven points clear of relegation, Newcastle need to get their act together. Burnley visits St James’s Park on Saturday and they are in terrific form.
Only Liverpool and Manchester City have a better record from their previous six games than Burnley.
A loss at Chelsea has been followed by an unbeaten run of five games that consists of four wins and one draw.
Their last two trips in the Premier League have seen them emerge victorious, a certain Manchester United falling victim at Old Trafford. Worst of all for Newcastle, their defence is rock-solid, keeping three clean sheets from their last four matches.
Six points ahead of Newcastle in tenth place, Burnley are a genuine contender for the extra Champions League spot in their current form. Each of their aforementioned four wins has seen them score at least two goals, Matej Vydra bagging in back-to-back fixtures. How Newcastle could do with a striker who can score goals.
In previous years, a lack of investment was blamed – perhaps that is to explain the dearth of quality cover in the squad – yet a club record fee reported to be £40 million was spent on Joelinton in the summer.
He has returned that investment with one goal in 26 Premier League appearances. Now would be a good time for him to prove his worth.
In truth, any hero who can step forward will be accepted. Jonjo Shelvey is the club’s highest scorer by a distance with a measly five goals. He can hardly be expected to score routinely from outside the box. No, things have to change. Steve Bruce said as much after the Palace defeat. A tactical rethink is in order.
It will be interesting to see if there is a reaction to this dire form on Saturday. It says plenty about the current state of the team that the odds will be tempting for anyone considering a bet on the home side.
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