After being benched last week in our FA Cup clash with West Brom, Dwight Gayle was brought back into Steve Bruce’s starting 11 for Saturday’s crucial trip to St Mary’s.
He’d arguably earned himself another chance after a lively display against Burnley the weekend before last, but the striker had a shocker in front of goal at Southampton, missing several huge chances – both before and after the hosts went down to 10 men.
He hit one six-yard shot straight at McCarthy, failed to convert with his head from point-blank range and dragged another big chance wide after great work from Saint-Maximin, HOWEVER there should be one big silver lining for Newcastle fans and Steve Bruce – he’s getting into good positions.
His failure to score on Saturday is a concern – especially when it’s not the first time he’s missed big chances this season amid fears he just can’t do it at Premier League level – but his movement and ability to get into goalscoring positions is something we’ve not seen nearly enough of late.
Yes the switch to 4-2-3-1 has helped considerably, yet he’s arguably had more chances to score against Burnley and Southampton than Joelinton has had in the whole of 2020.
The Brazilian needs to take a leaf of out Gayle’s book and show better movement in the final third, but we also need to credit Gayle for getting into good positions, knowing he’ll score sooner rather than later if he keeps giving Shelvey and our trio of attackers a lively target in the box.
In a season where we’ve barely created any chances, it bodes well that Gayle is regularly getting into good positions following our switch to 4-2-3-1.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s justified doubts about his ability at Premier League level, however there’s got to be some merit to the fact we’ve found it MUCH easier to create chances when he’s started recently.
He may have almost cost us on Saturday and can’t keep his place if he keeps on missing, but continue to give him good service while he regains match sharpness and he’ll find the net before long.