Ryan Fraser’s short Newcastle career hasn’t lived up to expectations as of yet. Only playing 845 minutes of football (257 in the EFL Cup) – with us now being in February – isn’t great.
Riddled with injuries throughout the season, Fraser has struggled to put a run of games together. His sending off away to Sheffield United topped off his rough half a season on Tyneside.
Scoring on his debut against Blackburn in the EFL Cup, I for one was buzzing to see Fraser start more games and play on the opposite wing to ASM.
The appointment of Graeme Jones and the formation change showed us what we had been missing from the tricky Scotsman, away at Everton in the 2-0 win. Fraser played left of the front 3 – with Almiron in a false 9 position and Wilson drifting over the right hand side. During that game, our attacking trio hunted as a pack and feel like that’s especially what we was missing going forward, in our defeat away to Chelsea this week.
According to ‘The Other 14’ Twitter page, in the defeat to Palace, Fraser created 7 chances which was the most of anyone outside the top 6 in that game week. Another reason why I believe Fraser is the right man, is in the 20 minutes he was on the pitch versus Chelsea he created the joint most chances for us (2).
This says a lot about what he adds to the team, with his cross for Willock’s glancing header the first time we got a genuinely good ball into the box on Monday.
One problem we may face is Saint-Maximin predominantly plays from the left hand side cutting in – so where could we fit Fraser? Playing in a 4-3-1-2 formation with Almiron in the false 9 / No 10 position and ASM and Fraser up front sounds like it could cause some problems, with two of the quickest players in the Premier League running at defences.
During his time at Bournemouth in the Premier League, Fraser played on the right hand side 28 times meaning he is no stranger to the position. Coming from a high pressing, quick Bournemouth side under Eddie Howe – managing to assist his team-mates 14 times in the 2018/19 season – is the reason I believe Fraser could make a big impact for the rest of the season.
It’s a huge shame that we haven’t seen enough of Wilson and Fraser together during the season. They (Fraser & Wilson) directly combined to score 12 Premier League goals in 2018/19 – a better partnership than any other that season.
However, make him a regular part of this new formation and give him a consistent run of games and I believe his pace, pressing and creativity can help fill the void Callum Wilson’s injury has created.