That uninspiring, innovation-lacking second half on Saturday at home to Wolves left a string of Newcastle United fans scratching their heads at the team’s ability to punish ‘lesser’ opposition and finish them off.
The further question of, ‘why and how often does this happen’ led NUFC_Stats to take a deeper glance into the current production line at Newcastle United in the Premier League this season.
In case you missed it, yesterday’s Part 1, which looked at who has scored NUFC’s goals, where they’ve come from and who is creating them, can be accessed here. Part 2 will take a closer look into Newcastle United’s creative ability in terms of creating chances, scoring goals and working in the final third.
Last 6 games
A look at the chances created by Newcastle United in the last 6 Premier League games make very interesting reading.
Firstly, you’ll notice a much loftier amount of chances are created from the right hand side compared to the left. Having said, there hasn’t been a single assist in those games from the right hand side, although it hasn’t been a very fruitful 6 games with just 9 goals.
You’ll also notice that about the crossing, there aren’t a great deal coming from the byline. Newcastle United’s wide players are not ‘beating’ the full back often enough and the majority of play from wide positions is coming infield or being crossed too early from deep.
Finally, the play in the most important area of the pitch for goal scoring (Zone 14 – central edge of box) is pretty none existent. Newcastle United do not have that player that is consistently clever and manipulative around the penalty area; just one chance has been created by ‘sliding’ in an attacking from Zone 14 and that turned into an assist (Best v QPR).
Against the others
Starting on the positive, Newcastle have scored the 6th most Premier League goals in this season’s campaign. However, that positive soon fades when looking at the other data. Only 3 teams have had less shots than Newcastle and only 61% (5th lowest) of those 38 goals have been via an assist.
A glance further right, and only 4 teams are creating less chances per game than Newcastle United, although only Blackburn from those teams presently live in the bottom three. Looking at the teams around us and thinking about European qualification of some sort, it’s easy to see why Arsenal & Chelsea got the results they did at the weekend and it’s also clear why Liverpool are where they are.
A quick look at the possession numbers show Newcastle working below average in terms of general ball retention – at 47.3% general possession, Newcastle United don’t have it their way on average in games.
But, a deeper look into the thirds identifies bigger deficiencies. In the final third, only Blackburn and Swansea spend less time on the ball, highlighting yet again that when Newcastle United get the ball there, it doesn’t stay. Furthermore, only 4 teams sit with the ball more than Newcastle in their defensive third.
In the final third
A more significant look into that final third possession shows that only 3 teams make less passes in the final third than Newcastle United and only 2 produce less successive ones.
A look at those teams around us again, and Newcastle have it all to do in the final 12 games of the season to compete and make sure a high place is achieved as they all work the ball well up field and with good success.
More depth about who produces the final third passes at Newcastle identifies Cabaye, Jonas & Taylor as the ones working it most up field, reflecting the earlier chance creation stats.
But accuracy wise, it is Davide Santon and Hatem Ben Arfa who are the coolest in the final third. The figures don’t make good reading for Danny Simpson and Demba Ba in particular.
To wrap this box of numbers up, Newcastle are screaming out for a more creative player to make sure the rest of the season doesn’t fizzle out. The second half against Wolves was simply not good enough for a team with European ambitions, but that was not an isolated incident.
The new-look Newcastle United are as good as they have been for a several years at working the ball into the final third, but when there, very rarely does something seem to happen.
Hatem Ben Arfa has the creativity and invention that Newcastle need but until Alan Pardew is 100% confident in his contribution and finds his best role, his game time and appearances will continue to suffer. As good a signing as Papiss Cisse has been, he plays the game very similar to Demba Ba and is not a forward that likes to work between the opposition’s midfield and defensive units.
Could it be that a different system of play, a one incorporating both Demba’s and Ben Arfa, be employed from now in a bid to change Newcastle United’s fortunes for the good for the final 12 games?