On Saturday Newcastle United faced off at St James’ against a Wolves side in reasonable form, on paper, winning 3 of the last 5 against Arsenal, Leeds, and Southampton; with a draw against Leicester and a loss to Crystal Palace.
In the process, they have scored 5, conceded 3, and kept 2 clean sheets putting them 13th in the league so far with 32 points. In comparison Newcastle went into the game after winning 2 of the last 5, losing 3, two of which were back-to-back against Chelsea and Manchester United, scoring 7, conceding 9, and having just the 1 clean sheet from the 2-0 win against Everton.
The stats that came out of the game shows slightly more improvement overall, but with areas for more work and ensuring that the gains over the last month or so are not left at the wayside.
The main stat that jumped out to me from the game was that every Newcastle player, including subs, had at least 1 shot attempt over the 90 min, Joelinton led this stat with 3 total shots with all 3 on target. In comparison, only 5 Wolves players had a shot in the game with Neto having the most with 5, 1 on target, 1 blocked, and 3 off target.
ASM, as expected, was top for passes leading to shots with 4, Shelvey and Fraser came in with a healthy 3 each, although Fraser was only on the pitch for 45mins, he managed to match Shelvey for key in passes and ultimately was the man who created the goal for Lascelles. Willock and Joelinton came in with 2 passes leading to shots and Almiron and Murphy with 1 each also.
Those passes leading to shots stats are encouraging for Newcastle when compared to Wolves who had Traore with 4, Neto with 3, Neves with 2, as well as Jose Moutinho and Jonny with 1 each. The loss of our only real natural finisher in Wilson is blatant and loud for Newcastle, not only is there 16 passes resulting in shots from 7 of our 10 outfield players, the fact that of our total 19 shots, of which 7 were on target we only managed to score the 1 goal, Patricio for Wolves made 5 saves all game, and had to help for a goal-line clearance from a Joelinton effort, resulting in Newcastle having an XG of 1.95, Newcastle need a calm presence in front of goal to turn these chances into actual goals not just expected goals. Dubravka back in goal for Newcastle made a total of 3 saves, facing 4 on target, 7 off target, and 3 that were blocked, a quiet day for the Slovakian, who will be disappointed to concede the goal he did, but with Wolves having an XG of 1.28, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. The two teams were miles apart when it came to (PPDA) passes allowed per defensive action in the opposition half, Newcastle allowing 5.97 and a total of 5 passes completed within 20 yards (estimated) of goal not including crosses (known as DEEP) while Wolves allowed a whopping 12.82 (PPDA), with a total of 6 passes completed within 20 yards (DEEP).
Newcastle came away with some reasonable numbers when it came to the workload of the game, winning 66.7% of their tackles compared to a poor 21.4% for Wolves, Newcastle’s 84% accurate pass completion from a total of 326 accurate passes was again higher than Wolves 80.1% from 339 accurate passes. Where Newcastle seem to still fall flat is when it comes to aerial duels, and against a team not renowned for their aerial ability, Newcastle stacked only 38.2% of won ariel duels compared to Wolves 61.8%.
Finally, that leaves us with the basic numbers of ball possession, since the arrival of Jones to the back-room staff, Newcastle’s possession stats have on-averaged almost doubled and this game was no different. With overall possession of 47% for Newcastle to 53% for Wolves over the 90 mins, the two-half breakdown shows that our second-half performances have a lot to be desired, first half Newcastle had 54% possession, 8 total shots 6 inside the box with 4 total shots on target, 237 total passes with 206 of those accurate passes, 87% completion rate. Second half Newcastle ended with 39% possession, 11 total shots 5 inside the box but only having 3 total shots on target, 151 total passes with 120 of those accurate passes, 79% completion rate.
The numbers definitely point towards a draw being a raw deal for a team that created the chances, had possession, and were one player that could be composed enough in front of goal, from winning this game by more than one. A point is better than none but it could have been so much more and should have been. With Newcastle now without Wilson with 10 goals, 5 assists, and 4 out of 4 on penalty duty, Almiron with 4 goals, 1 assist and 19.7 accurate passes per game (82%), and ASM with 2 goals, 3 assists, and a 3.3 successful dribbles per game (82%), it’s definitely hard to see how we will not only replace the goals but also the assists and the outbound balls from the back as all three offer the pace and power to help the defence go from one end to another in a single Hollywood pass.
Newcastle face second-bottom West Brom at the Hawthorns in a 12pm (GMT) kickoff on Saturday, with West Brom on the back of a hard-fought win against Brighton who had a high XG of 3.12 but lost 1-0, West Brom are 9 points behind Newcastle and may feel a win could draw them back into contention of a relegation fight that from a few weeks ago they had little to no right being mentioned in. Let’s hope for more improvement from a Newcastle team hit with injuries but still improving game after game with the stats they put out, and with a few tweaks and a little more composure, a win shouldn’t be a hard result to achieve.