Much has been coveted over the past week or so of the arrival of Papiss Demba Cisse, the Senegalese front man being a superb coup for Newcastle United in a stage in their maturation where it didn’t look like signings like that were any longer possible.
And, there is no doubting the guy has the class that could take Newcastle United forward in their bid to turn from a Premier League stance retention side, to a European challenger.
For that to come to fruition, Cisse is going to have to duplicate the performance and goal record of his Senegal colleague Demba Ba at NUFC and the only way that is possible, is if further back in the team supply the lethal front-men with the chances they need.
On Saturday away at Fulham, the opposite was evident. Newcastle produced enough chances (6 in each half) to arguably win 2 games, but they failed to take 10 of them. But, this hasn’t always been the case. Most fans will agree that NUFC have been solid defensively for best part of the season, barring a few performances, and what they have lacked most is that creative cutting edge.
NUFC_Stats looked into the numbers for the chances being created in Premier League games from the team.
The supply at NUFC
There won’t be many surprised to see that Yohan Cabaye is the top creator – with 1.6 chances created per game, he is putting them on a plate the most regular at the club. However, the Frenchman isn’t responsible for the most assists, that title falls to Shola Ameobi and Ryan Taylor. Having said that, an assist does depend on the player given the chance, as only when it is ‘notched’ does the chance created become an assist.
It is also clear of the threat Ryan Taylor poses when he is in the team. The versatile squad man produces more chances from set plays than any other player at NUFC. Probably not a surprise to most, but the emphasis here is that Ba & Cisse will thrive on the kind of service that Taylor produces, and consistently too!
Leon Best is doing what he can in terms of setting up; double the games started compared to Shola and pretty much double the chances – although, when you look at the actual time played of each, Best is doing significantly more for the cause (Best 1074 mins, Ameobi 721 mins).
Fans’ favourite Hatem Ben Arfa looks to be finding his feet again and his performance against Fulham at the weekend showed glimpses of the flair and excitement NUFC can expect when he is back to 100% – he looks like the one that could be Newcastle’s answer to Silva and Co. and there’s no doubt that with him in the team, NUFC look a more exhilarating outfit. 2 goals, 2 assists, most productive dribbler and nearly a chance a game make him imperative for the team on Ba & Cisse’s return.
A word also on Jonas Gutierrez – a lot of fans are becoming a little disillusioned with the Argentine’s contribution to the team. While everyone knows of his hard work and commitment to the team, the arrival of Davide Santon to the first team means he no longer needs to play as deep as he has this year and instead needs to fashion more going forward.
In 21 starts, while he produces the 2nd most dribbles and some times the most excitement at Newcastle, he has created the same number of chances as Obertan, even though the Frenchmen has started 4 less games. Jonas also only has 1 assist and 1 goal to his name in that time, which is not a great return for a player possessing the quality he does.
The Premier League’s best
Compared to Juan Mata, who currently is the most frequent chance provider in the Premier League, NUFC’s leading man, Yohan Cabaye, is producing just half of what the Spanish man is, and only 17 of his 63 created chances have come from a set play.
While no one is arguing that Yohan Cabaye is not the player Juan Mata is, a look further down the table at the like of Murphy, Gower and Baines show just how short NUFC’s play-makers are in the chance creation trumps. 6 of those top 10 Premier League chance creators either do or nearly do double every chance provider at NUFC other than Yohan Cabaye; although Silva, Bale and Mata aren’t far off.
Again, it can’t be expected of Cabaye to provide as they do, as his game is a lot different as a midfielder – Cabaye has a more defensive mind and plays his game in a more combative nature. But, there clearly needs to be more from other players in the team who’s job description includes creativity and creating opportunities for others.
Around the world
A look at the number from players in the top leagues around Europe show just how far away some of NUFC’s ‘creators’ are but also how influential some of the Premier League’s top midfielders can be and the competition the likes of Cabaye face week in, week out.
Only Nene of PSG creates more chance per game than Chelsea’s Juan Mata, in what could be described as a less aggressive and physical league in France. Further to Mata, with Bale, Nasri and Silva there also, England’s top flight have 4 representatives in the top 10 around Europe’s elite for creating chances, which is the best representation. Serie A have 3, Ligue 1 have 2 and 1 for the Bundesliga – quite surprising that you have to get to 13th before you see a representative of La Liga; Joan Verdu of Espanyol, just 2 places ahead of Fulham’s Danny Murphy in chances created per game on average.
Whichever way you look at it, and whatever players you look at it, if Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse are going to continue the good scoring form that has seen NUFC reach the heights they have thus far, they are going to need the service.
While it’s critical that defensive lapses like Saturday cannot become too frequent, the players chosen in the units behind the front two need to move their game on somewhat and ensure enough provision is taking place to provide the front men with ‘ammunition’ they need.
The Cabaye’s, Obertan’s and Jonas’ of this world are not going to turn into the Mata’s or Nene’s of this world overnight, but to sustain a place in Alan Pardew’s targeted Europa Cup, Newcastle United need to produce a little more creativity at times, especially away from home and keep this brilliant season alive.