Dem boots are hard to fill

Dem boots are hard to fill

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That moment at a restaurant when you’ve just had the most unbelievable main course, a meal that has cost you a mere smidgen of some of the overpriced fancy rubbish you’ve been catered with in the past. Then, upon the realisation of a small hole still to be filled, the ordering of a dessert with expectations of grandeur based on the quality of the previous dish…

Out comes the most hideous looking pudding the eyes have ever eluded to – a slowly served, dry and uncreative mess! But, on tasting, it does hit the spots!

The description sums up Sunday’s home encounter at QPR where NUFC registered just 1 shot at target compared the sizzling display against the current Premier League champions just 4 days prior.

11 attempts altogether produced by the Magpies, 4 less that their London opposition, and keeper Paddy Kenny not having to make one save!

Without question, Leon Best’s goal was ‘sublime’! The use of both feet, the balance, the vision, the finish! But consistent enough? Probably not. And, those who follow NUFC_Stats on Twitter, may have seen this after the game:

Shola Ameobi: 0 tackles | 0 take ons | 0 successful crosses | 0 chances created | 0 assists | 0 shots | 0 goals

What did the guy actually do? 23 out of 29 passes successful, 17 of which were backwards! 3 out of 7 aerial duels won, so he wasn’t even prolific in the air or looking after the ball high up the pitch.

We all know of Demba Ba and his form this season. The syrup-lover has notched 15 Premier League goals in 17 starts. He has 3.2 shots per game on average, exactly double next placed Ryan Taylor. Carrying on down that shots/game list, comes Cabaye, Vuckic, Gutierrez and it’s not until you get to 6th place that one of our forwards pops up; Leon Best.

Goals-wise, previous to the QPR game, Leon Best was level with Mr. OG after Demba Ba at NUFC with 3 – Best obviously has 4 now but after that there are only 6 other players who have scored in the division, only 2 of which have scored 2 goals.

A look at the numbers from last season and this season of NUFC’s forwards were definitely in order to get a picture on exactly who is going to fill the boots of Demba Ba.

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Leon Best

It’s probably fair to say, and Alan Pardew has done recently, that Best is Newcastle’s best hope (excuse the pun) of scoring goals. He possesses that ability, like we saw on Sunday, to produce something great when the ‘chips are down’ and knows where the goal is. He wins more aerial duels at NUFC than any other player (2.9 pg) and has a very good work ethic.

While he hasn’t been prolific over the last season and a half, his stats show that when he gets chances, he can put them away.  33 shots last season and registering 6 goals – this season, he’s managed 4 goals from 22 shots which, inclusive of the last campaign, mean his shots to goals ratio is 5.5:1.

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Shola Ameobi

The Geordie faithful has been, and always will be, split over Shola but one thing that can never be hidden is his goal record, which every forward is assessed on.  39 goals in 231 games speaks volumes – Shola has never scored more than 9 goals in a season for Newcastle and his goals to shots record in his 11 seasons is a quite pathetic 0.12!!

52 goals last season, 13 this season and just 7 goals to show for it – that means in the last 2 seasons Shola has scored 1 goal per every 9.3 shots on average, a goal every 462 minutes over 2 campaigns.

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Hatem Ben Arfa

Looking to the French maestro for goals is probably a bit harsh seeming as though he is not an ‘out-and-out’ striker like the others and he game is more geared towards supply. But, the No.10 has shown he knows how to net and has real eye for goal when he’s in the right areas. 2 goals from 13 shots is not a bad return at all.

Scoring a goal every 308 minutes on average is a record that, if he can get a run in the team and continue those kind of numbers, there could be a fair share of goals coming from NUFC’s magician.

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Peter Lovenkrands

It’s probably an irrelevant activity looking at Lovenkrands’ data – the Danish speed demon is not high on Alan Pardew’s starting list, with a move back to Rangers touted over recent days . But, with Demba away and Sammy Ameobi on the ‘all too familiar’ long term injury list, it may be that Lovenkrands gets another chance or two to shine.

While he has never been a prolific goal scorer, he has popped up with some impressive and important goals in his time at NUFC. Alongside Best and Shola, Lovenkrands registered 6 goals last season but from less shots than Ameobi and more than best. This season, in his lowly 186 minutes, he’s managed to get just 2 chances at goal, neither of which have even hit the target, never mind chalked a goal.

Lovenkrands has scored 9 goals in his SJP career, not one with his head, and his goals to shots ratio is 0.17. That, alongside the fact that his chances are going to be extremely limited, mean the Dane is way off what Newcastle need in Ba’s absence!

So…

Demba Ba has been a revelation for Newcastle United this season. His goals have been the difference in games at times, especially when considered how many he makes out of nothing. But, it isn’t just the quantity or even quality of goals that have been of most significance – it’s the impact on the game they have and many a time this season they have lifted the entire spirit and performance of the team.

Looking around the NUFC dressing room currently, there aren’t any players that are going to fill Demba’s boots ‘goal-for-goal’. It is going to have to be a collective effort from the black and whites, where each player will have to take their chance when it appears, like Best did on Sunday.

From a statistical point of view, Leon Best looks the one who will get closer to Ba’s tally then any other, although he’s never going to have the cutting edge that the Senegalese star has. Alongside him, Ben Arfa has a good eye for goal but more crucially, he has that creativity and flair that NUFC have lacked for too long. He has the ability to create out of nothing there cant be many doubts that a run in the team will see his ‘chances created’ data shoot through the proverbial roof.

Getting goals is not NUFC’s major attacking problem, they’ve scored the 6th most goals from open play in the Premier League; its creating the chances and assists that need work. Ryan Taylor features at 48th in the Premier League for assists with a minuscule 2 compared to the likes of Silva on 11 and Bale, Nani, Mata, Valencia and Nasri who all have 7.

So, if it means more games like the QPR one, then so be it. But, NUFC will have to lift their performance levels when they come up against better opposition and try and find that cutting edge whilst the big syrup-loving talisman is away!

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