The weekend’s win over Brentford lifted us to 14th in the Premier League table. It looked impossible that we would reach those heights in February just weeks ago, but it has been an incredible run of form.
Although the red card for Brentford helped us, we delivered a dominant display and continued our good recent form.
Below, we pick out and discuss three interesting stats from the game.
Newcastle’s left wing (20 shot creating actions)
It has been an excellent couple of weeks for Ryan Fraser and Matt Targett. Both have had exceptional starts to the calendar year. Due to Allan Saint-Maximin’s absence, they were given a chance to play together down the left flank and there were positive signs of their partnership.
In the game, we had 43 shot creating actions (SCAs). 20 of these were attributed to either Fraser or Targett. The pair caused a lot of problems for Brentford. They were the most influential players on the pitch.
Fraser had 11 SCAs and Targett had 9 SCAs, showing that we relied on them for creativity. Fraser got the assist for the first goal, with an excellent cross for Joelinton. He nearly got another when he put the ball on a plate for Chris Wood, who was only denied by a great save from David Raya.
Targett continued to show his quality in the attacking half, with a number of good crosses. He came close to scoring on two occasions too. If these two continue to perform like this, Saint-Maximin may not walk back into the side on the left.
Chris Wood – 0.6 expected goals (xG)
There has been criticism of Chris Wood’s lack of a goal threat in recent weeks. He had only had one shot on target prior to the weekend. There is no doubting that the striker has had a positive impact on results, but his goal threat was a worry.
On Saturday, Wood delivered his most threatening performance to date, as he accrued an xG of 0.6. This was the highest of any Newcastle player and he will have left the pitch feeling very unfortunate not to score.
His headed attempt was well saved by David Raya when the score was goalless. This was a great chance and one Wood would expect to take, but it was good to see him get into the goal-scoring position.
During the match, he had four shots and two found the target. Eddie Howe will be hoping he can continue to carry this level of threat. If he does, the goals will come.
Emil Krafth – 9 progressive passes
There has been heavy criticism of Emil Krafth in recent weeks. He isn’t as good as Kieran Trippier and he faces an impossible task of replacing the England international.
Many believe that Javier Manquillo will come back into the team, but Krafth delivered a solid performance on Saturday. He didn’t try to do anything fancy on the ball, as he kept things simple.
Against West Ham, he was a liability, but he played his part against Brentford. He made nine progressive passes in the game. Only Ryan Fraser (14) made more for us.
There has been a change in approach from Howe, as the team now prioritises attacks down the left wing. However, Krafth’s performance on Saturday may have bought him more time in the team.