Last game before we flip the calendar page and reach the month of the Human Rights World Cup. Exciting times ahead!
Do you know what is exciting, too? Newcastle United's current form.
Even with all of the talk about this whole new (and inevitable to arrive at some point) Super League, there is still a wide acknowledged consensus opinion about the Big 5 European leagues: the Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga.
Between all of them, 98 teams are participating in those competitions for the 2022/23 season. To position Newcastle in their proper place among that near-100 field of teams is complicated, but we can give it try just by looking at some simple statistics.
Let’s start with the most basic of all tallies: wins, losses, and draws.
- Newcastle are tied for the 30th-most wins with five in 12 games.
- Newcastle are one of only 13th teams with just one loss entering this weekend.
- Newcastle have the 21st-most points (21) in all Big 5 leagues and the 28th-best points-per-game (1.75) average.
That’s just the start, and we’ve virtually removed two-thirds of all 98 teams when it comes to matching what Newcastle have done through the first third of the season in the first 12 games of the campaign.
Things get even better if you dig a little bit deeper, though!
- Newcastle are 14th in total xG with a 19.3 mark.
- Newcastle are 18th in xG/90 with a 1.6 mark.
- Newcastle are 21st in total xGA with a 12.1 mark.
- Newcastle are 15th in xGA/90 with a 1.0 mark
- Newcastle have the 13th-best total xGD with a 7.2 mark.
- Newcastle have the 14th-best xGD/90 with a 0.6 mark.
Sublime, that is! Newcastle ranks pretty much into the top-15 clubs in the Big 5 with 12 games in the books when properly looking at data.
Now, things can get even better!
- There are 10 teams in the Big 5 averaging 1.5+ xG and fewer than 1.0 xGA per game so far this season.
- Newcastle is averaging 1.61 xG and 1.01 xGA.
- Of those 10+NUFC clubs, Newcastle would rank 10th in points per game with only 1.75.
- Only Inter (Serie A) and Athletic Club (La Liga) are averaging fewer than 2.00 points per game with those xG and xGA averages.
- Newcastle, even though pundits will tell you they are “overperforming”, is actually underperforming compared to the rest of the teams in Europe putting up the Magpies' numbers
So... if everything stays the same in terms of expected goals and expected goals against, and things regress to a more reasonable mean compared to the rest of the European top teams, we can expect Newcastle to finally break the 1.0+ xGD/90 difference sooner rather than later.
In other words and for the uninitiated: Newcastle should be getting positive results, winning games week in and week out, and doing so by more than a one-goal difference with ease considering what the models predict.
First stop: Aston Villa today at St James Park without Unai Emery on the Lions' bench.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Villans are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Isak (thigh), Darlow (ankle), Krafth (knee), Ritchie (calf), Dummett (calf)
- Doubtful: Saint-Maximin (thigh)
- Do you know what I want? All the White Smoke, so give me Nick Pope. Uh, oh.
- Even though Kieran Trippier is only 15 minutes of play behind Pope’s 1,080 on the season, the defender won’t be able to overtake the goalie today. Because they will play 90 minutes each, of course.
- Fourth and fifth in the total minutes played leaderboard: Fabian Schar and Dan Burn. You might think that’s the center-back pairing if you’re a casual reader of CHN, but that’s not the actual case! Schar has manned the center of the line but Burn has been a semi-revelation on the left flank (he already played the position in the past, mind you).
- It won’t happen because Eddie Howe has absolutely forgotten what rotating players mean, but I’m going with Matt Target getting a start after not doing so since Sep. 17 against Bournemouth with Burn sliding to a more-natural CB position. Sven Botman gets the boot today against a Villan side that have scored the fourth-fewest goals through 12 games this season.
- I’m sorry for you if you are one of those lads still dropping the hammer on Sean Longstaff for some reason, which makes no sense at all. Longstaff is having quite a year and will turn 25 (yes, 25!) years old tomorrow. So let him celebrate with another start, another victory, and another game to add to his extraordinary and ongoing run of performances.
- Bruno already celebrated last weekend with his newborn Matteo arriving home! Let’s extend that for another week, please.
- What about Jonjo Shelvey? Can he force Howe into dropping Joelinton, or maybe Longstaff, to the bench now that he’s available and a living legend of Newcastle? We’ll see about that. What we know, though, is that Howe has been quoted saying that “[Jonjo] is going to have a huge role to play [before the World Cup break].” Just in case, the game kicking off later today takes place before the break. I think it’s a bit rushed to throw Jonjo into the XI so soon after he played his first two minutes last weekend, so I don’t rule out an off-the-pine cameo but definitely not a start over Longstaff and Joelinton, my other man-in-the-middle for today’s game.
- Glad Newcastle didn’t sign Jack Grealish and instead underpaid for the acquisition of Miguel Almirón, who happens to be a much better player these days. Uh, oh. For some reason, the market value of the better player is below €20m and the market value of the worse player is above €75m. Almirón broke the algorithm.
- No White Smoke when it comes to Callum Wilson but as it’s been the case since the beginning of history and given the absolute lack of alternatives one has to think Wilson will start this match and all other games ever played going forward until Alex Isak is back after the World Cup.
- I don’t think Howe will make any unnecessary change, and I don’t believe Howe when he says Allan Saint-Maximin might play today—not as a starter, at least. Give me Jacob Murphy on the left wing to start with, and then we’ll go from there.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Burn - Targett
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Joelinton
WNG Almirón - Murphy
An unchanged starting XI. ✊— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 29, 2022
HWTL! ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/9Ox5Q827Uu
Aston Villa XI
- Date: Saturday, October 29th
- Kick-off: 15:00 BST / 10:00 EST / 8:00 PST
- Location: St James’ Park (England)
- Broadcasts: Talksport 2 Radio UK (UK), Peacock (USA), fuboTV (Canada)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.
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Howay the Lads!