As the start of the season draws ever nearer, we take a look at some of the key statistics of Newcastle United last season, and how it could affect the team next season.
Humorist Evan Esar once said “Statistics are the science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures”. While this can be true at times, analysing data from footballing performances has become a cornerstone of the modern age game.
For example, one thing that could worry boss Alan Pardew is that Newcastle averaged 12.9 shots per game last season. This was in fact the 14th highest out of all 20 teams. While the Toon may have some deadly strikers, there’s no changing the fact that more often or not, a team has to have more shots on goal than their opposition to stand a better chance of winning the game.
One thing that could improve this aspect would be to perhaps ditch the apparent reluctance to shoot from range. With players such as Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa, Newcastle definitely have the capabilities of testing opposition goalkeepers from distance, and this may be a new tactic adopted by the gaffer in the new season.
At the other end of the pitch, the team are conceding on average 14.3 shots per game, while teams such as Arsenal and Manchester City are conceding just 10.5. Of course, having key defender Steven Taylor missing for the majority of the season wouldn’t have helped this number, but it is definitely something that Pardew will be looking to improve upon.
It has been no secret that Newcastle are on the hunt to sign a senior defender, and that will only help tighten up at the back. In addition to this, bar Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle committed more fouls than any other team in the Premier League last season.
This is definitely something which Pardew will be looking to address, as nothing is more frustrating than losing a player to suspension when the team is in good form (as we’ve learnt with Cheick Tiote on many occasions…)
Many times over the summer break, we’ve heard from Alan Pardew and John Carver that Newcastle need to become more of a threat from set pieces, and it’s not hard to see why. Apart from Swansea and Aston Villa, Newcastle had the lowest amount of set piece goals out of the 20 teams in the league.
When you consider that this includes both goals scored directly from free kicks and goals resulting from corners and crossed free kicks, 8 goals is just not high enough. To put that in comparison, while Newcastle scored 8 set piece goals, relegated Blackburn Rovers managed to score 19.
With players such as Ryan Taylor and Yohan Cabaye, it’s unquestionable that there are players who can deliver a ball, so there should be no reason why this figure can’t be improved in the coming season.
Once again, another potentially worrying stat for Pardew’s men is that Newcastle had the 3rd lowest amount of crosses in the league last campaign. Even Swansea, a team that prided themselves on playing short quick passes, avoiding the aerial route, managed to not have less crosses than the Toon.
This is an aspect of the game that Newcastle will need to change, because every striker currently at the club is very good in the air, with the likes of Ba, Cisse and Ameobi, who can all cause problems to defenders in aerial duels.Despite what these statistics may or may not mean to you, it cannot be denied that Newcastle United have some absolutely quality players, and a team which finished 5th in the best league in the world, which at the end of the day, is the most important statistic of all.