The good folks at StatsBomb have posted their positional tracking data for Saturday's 2-2 draw with Hull City, and there are some incredibly interesting conclusions that we can draw about Newcastle's play. It's well worth heading over to take a look at their observations and check out the GIF, which I'll be referring to going forward.
As pointed out by the StatsBomb staff, it's fascinating to note that Mike Williamson played very wide for virtually the entire match, while Fabricio Coloccini was left to cover the center of the park with help from Cheik Tioté, who played more of a box-to-box role than we've seen from him in the past. The attack was very right-handed, as we noted during the match, but I didn't realize how extreme the disparity was. It's clear that Alan Pardew felt that he could exploit the left side of Hull's defense, but the end result was that lone striker Emmanuel Rivière was stuck on one side of the opponent's box, allowing Michael Dawson and others the freedom to move over and clean up any messes. That neither Paul Dummett or Yoan Gouffran were able to offer any threat deep on the other side of the pitch, even when play was switched, meant that the Toon were essentially playing with no width. It's just that their narrow field of play was contained to one side.
Rémy Cabella started moving toward the other side of the pitch around the hour mark, and when Papiss Cissé was introduced in the 69th minute, he moved across the box freely. The replacement of Tioté with Sammy Ameobi created a dual threat, which stretched the Hull City defense in a way it wasn't for the previous 85 minutes. (That Newcastle were desperately searching for an equalizer certainly played a part as well.)
So what did we learn? It's not new news to Newcastle fans that the lone striker system doesn't work, and the health and form of Cissé is perhaps encouraging for a different formation in the near future - unless of course, he simply becomes a like for like replacement for Rivière. Given Cabella's success on the left in the waning moments, I wouldn't mind seeing the following for the next league match against Stoke City:
Krul | Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Left Back* | Sissoko, Colback, Tioté, Cabella | Rivière, Cissé
*I just don't want to have this fight today. Pick whichever one you like.
What do you think? How should Newcastle handle the newfound availability of Papiss Cissé?