Why Newcastle should still be concerned over final third inefficiency

Posted on February 12th, 2020 | No Comments |

Joelinton – Only 1 goal in 25 Premier League games
Newcastle United have managed to defy trends this season to keep themselves away from trouble at the bottom of the Premier League. Statistically the Magpies have endured an unremarkable campaign, scoring only 24 goals in their 25 matches. Crystal Palace (23) are the only side in the top flight to have found the net on fewer occasions at the time of writing, which could be a cause for concern for Steve Bruce as his team approach the final stretch of the 2019/20 season.

With or without scoring, just getting shots on target has also been the problem; once again, the Magpies are in the bottom three there as well with only 82, only Burnley (80) and Crystal Palace (79) have fewer.

Despite their lack of clinical edge in front of goal, the Magpies are on course to remain in the Premier League, currently being backed in the football betting odds at 1/10 to stay up. Newcastle’s defence has been a large part of their relative success, conceding a respectable 36 goals over the course of the term, placing them in the middle of the pack in the league.

On the basis of their statistics, Bruce’s men should be in the midst of at least a tense battle against the drop. However, they’re seven points clear of the drop zone at the time of writing and should be able to make plans for the next campaign by grinding out a few more victories, which they are more than capable of achieving without any stress on their fanbase.

The one fear has been their struggles in the final third. The £40 million spent on Joelinton has not yielded positive results in the opening 25 matches of the Brazilian’s career at the club. He replaced Salomon Rondon, who many Newcastle supporters wanted to return after his impressive 2018/19 season. However, the Magpies failed to strike a deal with West Brom, while the Venezuelan opted to link up with former manager Rafa Benitez at Dalian Yifang instead of returning to St James’ Park.

Joelinton has hit the target just once in the Premier League, which came back in August, despite having a plethora of openings. It’s more a mental issue now than a physical one and he has faced criticism from fans and former players alike. The 23-year-old arrived with a solid reputation for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, although there was only one season of production behind him. If Bruce was hopeful of seeing at least 10 goals from the Brazilian, he has proven to be disastrously incorrect. There has not been a great deal of support around him, with Miguel Almiron notching only two goals in the league, while Allan Saint-Maximin has scored once in his debut campaign.

Newcastle’s defenders have eased the burden with a couple of strikes to their names as Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar, Jetro Willems and Florian Lejeune have all contributed. Jonjo Shelvey in midfield has been the most productive player in the final third, finding the net five times. Those goals have been vital, but down the stretch when it matters the most – teams must have an out-and-out goalscorer to take on the mantle and carry their team. It was evident in their draw against Norwich City on home soil, while frustrating draws against lower-league opposition in the FA Cup have also highlighted the issue.

Victories over Chelsea and Manchester United have perhaps masked the issue, although Bruce and his team still deserve huge credit for pulling off the triumphs. However, it will be something the club have to look at and improve over the summer as it shouldn’t matter for the rest of the campaign unless there is a dramatic collapse, which could defy the outstanding discipline and resilience Newcastle have shown this term.

NUFCBlog Author: Frankly Various Frankly Various has written 66 articles on this blog.

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