Guest Post from
@NUFC_Stats . If you would like to submit a guest post to feature on FantasyYIRMA.com simply drop us an email to FantasyYIRMA@hotmail.com
Cast your mind back to December 26th 2013 – the mighty Mags had seen off Mark Hughes’ depleted Stoke City, at home, after a ‘man-of-the-match’ performance for referee Martin Atkinson. A typically uninspired first half that saw Stoke take the lead and completely dominate play before two extremely bizarre sendings off just before half time, which allowed Loic Rémy to firstly miss a penalty, then squeeze in an equaliser, set NUFC up for a pretty devastating 5-1 win in the end.
Those 3 points had Newcastle United sitting 6th in the Premier League at exactly half way through the 13/14 season; just 6 points off leaders Arsenal, 3 behind Champions League-placed Liverpool in 4th and in the midst of a run of 9 games which consisted of 7 wins, one draw and one defeat away to Swansea.
What followed that game can only be described as the ‘polar opposite’! Just one win in the following 9 games, ironically led by our French talisman who would soon depart to PSG, saw the Magpies slip into 9th place and inevitably looking over their shoulders at the on-rushing pack, desperate for Premier League mediocrity and/or survival. The final run of games in the division would see NUFC endure a losing streak of 6 games in a row for the first time EVER in the top flight and finish in 10th, a position many would have taken early doors!
But, oh, how different it could have been!
What was it in particular that let the Toon down so often throughout the season, but particularly in the latter stages? Was it really down to the inept coaching/managing ability of Alan Pardew? Was it the apathy, blatantly running through the veins of each and every player, particularly in those final games once safety was secured? Was it the loss of one of the best centre midfielders to ever grace the black and white shirt? Whatever it was, a change in ethos, philosophy and straight up positivity will be required to change the fortunes of the black and whites for the 14/15 season. That, and a little look at some important statistics which could be key for Newcastle’s progress going forward.
Newcastle managed just 3 goals on the counter attack last season in the top flight?! Compare that to the 9 that Liverpool scored (leaders) and the 4 that Sunderland produced and it goes without saying that an injection of pace and ability to run in behind are paramount to scoring more goals next season. Emmanuel Rivière should certainly give us more arsenal in this area!
Newcastle were awarded the joint second fewest number of penalties (2) in the league last year and produced just 40% of their goal scoring attempts from within the penalty area, the lowest in the entire division?! 54% of NUFC’s attempts at goal came from range, which is more than any other side and just 6% came from inside the 6-yard box, the 3rd lowest. What is this telling us? We just didn’t penetrate teams!! Shots from distance, poor crosses, nothing in the air when the ball did come in and unintelligent use of the ball around the penalty area! Fingers crossed that Siem de Jong and Rémy Cabella can ratify those numbers next season!
Loic Rémy features in the top 20 players in the 13/14 season for both goals and shots per game? You probably did, but I bet you didn’t know you’d have to go to 36 before you came across Papiss Cisse?! Replacing Loic Rémy is absolutely imperative – some say Rivière could be the man to do it, and the signs of his pre season are certainly encouraging. However, he is still relatively unproven, even in Ligue 1!
Moussa Sissoko was surpassed by just 4 Premier League players last season in terms of creating chances, amassing a very impressive 77 chances, more the Yohan Cabaye managed in any of his seasons at NUFC (11/12 | 34 app: 54, 12/13 | 26 app: 52, 13/14 | 19 app: 32). He features 9th in the entire Premier League for chances created ‘per game’ on average – which is highly impressive when you consider that Vurnon Anita is the black and white that proceeds Sissoko….. At 67th! Also, of the players who created more than 75 chances in the top division last season, Moussa Sissoko created the highest percentage than any from open play – 99%!
Love or hate him, centre midfield or ring wing, Sissoko is a top draw player, who still has a lot to learn, but who will go from strength to strength in a Newcastle shirt if utilised correctly and nurtured well.
At the beginning of last season, a 10th-place finish would have pleased even the most hardcore of NUFC fans, especially after the dire state of the season prior, but having played as well as we did for 18 games or so, the season ultimately fizzled out into one, big unpleasant disappointment! The acquisition of 6 new players has done a lot for the confidence of fans, and no doubt the players and staff at Newcastle United, but we must continue to build to ensure we go into the 14/15 season better equipped.
Whether messrs Pardew and Ashley are up to the task; who knows?! That’s whole new article for another time!