On face value, Chris Wood may appear a bog standard signing for The Magpies. However, when you think about it, it’s a shrewd piece of business.
Not only will Wood add goals to our team, the transfer considerably weakens Burnley, a relegation rival. Considering the reported fee is £20m, this appears a fantastic piece of business.
I will assess Wood’s goalscoring record, why the transfer hurts Burnley and how the Kiwi will fit into our playing system to highlight why I think the 30 year old forward will be a fantastic signing.
A ‘proven’ Premier League goalscorer
Wood is one of only six Premier League players that has scored 10 or more Premier League goals in the past four premier league seasons. The company he is in? Try names such as Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy and Heung-Min Son. Although Wood may not be the most graceful footballer, his record in the Premier League is undeniable.
50 goals in 144 Premier League appearances is an extremely good return considering Wood plays in a pragmatic Burnley side which is built on their defensive solidity.
Wood is also extremely dependable, starting 29 or more league games in the past three seasons. This will be imperative for Newcastle in their hunt for a striker who is likely to play every minute of every game for the rest of the season.
Another quality he is renowned for is his aerial prowess. The Kiwi has an aerial duel win percentage of 52% this season. Again, a fantastic statistic. Furthermore, Wood has won the most aerial duels in the Premier League this season with 113 aerial duels won. Surely, Kieran Trippier will be licking his lips at the thought of crosses into Wood to add some more assists to his Premier League record. Granted Chris Wood is not expected to bag 15 goals for the rest of the season, but at least we will have a recognised striker up front to service.
The following trend also bodes well, suggesting he tends to come good over the second half of Premier League seasons…
Double whammy? His signing hurts Burnley as much as it helps us
Chris Wood’s signing for Newcastle United benefits us two fold. Not only does it improve us as a Premier League outfit, it also significantly damages Burnley’s chances of remaining in the Premier League.
Without Wood’s goals (which have clearly saved them over the second half of Premier League seasons) and aerial duel wins (113), are Burnley going to create as many chances? Are Burnley going to have a focal point going forward? There are many questions to be asked about the loss of the Kiwi, but The Magpies visit to Turf Moor on the last day of the Premier League season is sure to be extremely interesting now. Let’s hope it doesn’t go down to the wire.
Sean Dyche’s Burnley is built around the tactic of two physical strikers up front attempting to dominate defenders, winning second balls and getting quality crosses into the box. Surely, if Burnley fail to replace Wood with a striker with similar attributes to the Kiwi forward, they are expected to struggle.
This is made apparent due to the fact Burnley rank lowest and second lowest respectively in the short and medium passes attempted metric (2021/2022 Premier League Season). Making evident the fact that Burnley are a team that focus on direct passing in order to unlock defences. Clearly, Dyche will have to make some adjustments to the way Burnley play their football without Wood, but is this something that can be altered in the months that remain in the Premier League season? That remains to be seen.
The perfect man for Kieran Trippier?
It is expected that a few Newcastle fans may be surprised by the Chris Wood signing and perhaps reluctant to accept Wood’s aggressive and perhaps unorthodox forward play. Wood has been accused in the past of borderline physical play and consistent fouling. Despite this, one thing that all Newcastle fans CAN agree on, is the fact that we’re not particularly bothered how we play for the next few months, as long as we are playing in the Premier League next season. Wood is not expected to enhance our style of play in terms of it being nice on the eye. However one thing Wood will bring – is aerial wins and hopefully in turn, goals.
The quality of crosses should be improved considerably with the signing of England’s Kieran Trippier (see my Trippier scout report for the quality of crosses he will bring to the side). Consequently, The Magpies should now see an improvement in headed shots on target from the likes of Wood winning more headers in the penalty area. The expectation of Wood will be high given the reported £20m price tag, however the Kiwi will have the chance to repay his transfer fee immediately, as the physical striker is expected to start against Watford if and when the touted transfer is completed.
Eddie Howe will be hoping that his Newcastle side can improve their quality crosses into the area and evidently Trippier was signed to improve that. Trippier showed glimpses of real quality against Cambridge and hopefully with another weeks training, the former Atletico man can establish a better standard of delivery into the Hornets area to give Wood the supply he needs to score goals.
If we go down, he could be lethal
If we suffer relegation, many will question whether Wood’s arrival was the right call, as he is clearly being brought in to keep us in the division. However, he is someone who could help us bounce straight back to the Premier League if we do go down.
He has 78 goals in the second tier and bagged 27 league goals for Leeds in his last season in the Championship. This came in the 2016/17 campaign, seeing him finish top scorer the year Rafa Benitez guided us to promotion after outscoring the likes of Dwight Gayle and Tammy Abraham.
Considering he’s got better with age and has gone on to get into double figures in each of his four Premier League seasons since then, I’d feel very confident that a front two of Wood and Wilson would fire us to promotion should the worst happen.
Wood, as a natural centre forward, is expected to add reliability, experience, physicality and an improvement in quality finishing to Eddie Howe’s side. Had he been signed last week, we’d still be in the FA Cup, for example.
He is also a leader, like Trippier, being the captain of his country and another strong character who can add value both off and on the pitch.
Let’s hope the Kiwi man can complete the transfer and save our season, firing us to Premier League safety.