The club finally returned to top-flight football last weekend on the opening day of the campaign and it ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Newcastle at St. James’ Park.
Fabian Schar scored a sublime goal from distance before Callum Wilson lifted the ball over Dean Henderson for the second, whilst the Magpies also had another 21 efforts on goal and eight more on target.
Steve Cooper’s men failed to register a single shot on target in the match and only mustered five attempts in total as they struggled at the top end of the pitch.
Given their lack of potency last week, the head coach must now unleash Nigeria international Taiwo Awoniyi from the start in the front two.
The striker, who joined the club for £17.5m from Union Berlin this summer, could provide the threat in the final third that they were desperately lacking against the Toon.
In the Bundesliga last season, the former Liverpool man recorded 2.7 shots and 1.23 shots on target per 90 minutes – a shot to shot on target conversation rate that placed him in the 83rd percentile in his position in Europe’s top five leagues.
This suggests that the £35k-per-week gem knows how to get shots off and excels at making the goalkeeper work in doing so.
Nigerian icon Jay-Jay Okocha once claimed that the 25-year-old “confused” defenders at international level and his goal return for Union in 2021/22 suggests that he did the same in Germany.
He racked up 20 strikes and five assists in all competitions, with Bundesliga journalist Stefan Bienkowski dubbing his form “remarkable”, which shows that he knows how to find the back of the net on a regular basis in a major European league.
Brennan Johnson and Sam Surridge managed two shots – zero on target – between them against the Magpies and their lack of quality in front of goal illustrates why Awoniyi should lead the line. The Nigerian has proven in the Bundesliga that he has the ability to test the goalkeeper, along with having the potential to bamboozle defenders by getting the better of them.
Therefore, Cooper must hand the summer signing his first chance to show what he can do from the start. His goalscoring record in Germany is eye-catching and it is now down to him to prove that he can replicate it in the Premier League this season – starting with today’s game against the Hammers.