This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Newcastle have picked up their form over the last few matches but there are two worrying aspects of the team which could disrupt their current run.
Steve Bruce has come in and done an effective job so far, even his predecessor Rafa Bentiez has admitted to that, and while the organisation of the team is a particualr highlight, there are concerns in both attack and defence.
The Magpies’ goal difference reflects that, with just 11 goals scored in 12 games a consequence of the lack of creativity from individuals in the squad, with Allan Saint-Maximin the only saving grace in that department.
He has produced 11 chances from open play this season, the most of any Newcastle player despite playing less than the likes of Miguel Almiron and Joelinton, who have not impressed on the creativity front.
Winning the ball back is the other area of concern for Newcastle, as they fall behind many of their Premier League rivals in terms of tackles and interceptions made.
Such a weakness is unsustainable and until it improves they will likely continue their inconsistent results under Bruce, who should be looking for a solution to the problem over the international break.
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While Newcastle have struggled on the goal front this season, there has at least been signs of improvement from the front-three, and in Saint-Maximin they have a player who is in-form and has the confidence to be a real threat for his team.
Defensively, though, the lack of a ball-winner could trouble the Magpies, particularly away from home or against possession-based teams.
Isaac Hayden has been one of Newcastle’s better players in that area, with 26 tackles and 16 interceptions this term, so it is noticeable that his sending off against Leicester led to a 5-0 defeat, Bruce’s biggest loss by quite some way.
Another who has impressed is Fabian Schar, who has a combined total of 44 tackles and interceptions, which leaves him a little short of the numbers racked up by the players below, as per @TheOther14.,
With the Switzerland international still sidelined through injury, though, Bruce should be more focused than usual on improving his team’s statistics in stopping danger from the opposition.
If he fails to do so his side are likely to begin conceding more, as they can only rely on the likes of Jamaal Lascelles to clear and block so many shots, and Saint-Maximin can only make so many chances at the other end to bail the team out.
In fact, recent wins against West Ham and Bournemouth have been due to goals scored from set-pieces, another method which can’t guarantee long-term success, leaving Bruce with a lot to think about.