Newcastle supporters will travel to St James’ Park on Sunday, full of optimism about the bright future for their new Saudi-backed owners following the departure of Mike Ashley.
However, whatever the outcome against Tottenham when the curtain rises in the new era, one thing is certain: it will take time, investment and a lot of hard work to push Newcastle up the Premier League table and be in able to compete with the best sides of the country.
Here Sky Sports statistician Sven Alexis looks at the numbers regarding Newcastle’s current situation to reveal the work that needs to be done to the field to take the team to the next level …
A familiar and slow start to the season
Slow start for Newcastle – opening record of seven Premier League games
Newcastle are still chasing their first win of the season after collecting just three points out of a possible 21. Only once have they had a worse start to the century: in 2018/19, Rafa Benitez’s side collected just three points in their first 10 games. , to finish 13th.
Unfortunately for Geordie loyalists, a slow start has been a common theme in recent seasons. Newcastle haven’t won any of their first seven games in four of their last seven Premier League campaigns.
It remains to be seen what improvement the takeover will have on this team – and what impact any new arrivals in January will have – but Newcastle, once again, are already catching up.
No team have conceded more Premier League goals than Newcastle this season. They’ve dispatched 16 in their first seven games and only once before have they conceded more Premier League goals at this point. They conceded 19 in their first seven in 1999/00 under Ruud Gullit and Bobby Robson.
In fact, only Southampton have conceded more Premier League goals than Newcastle since Steve Bruce was appointed in July 2019. They have also faced the most shots per game of any Premier League side.
Bruce has at times been criticized for the style of football his Newcastle sides played, but it certainly didn’t lead to good defensive numbers.
Newcastle on the back foot
|Team||Most goals conceded (since August 2019)||Team||Most shots faced / game (as of August 2019)|
Since mid-December, Newcastle have conceded 62 goals in 34 league appearances, the most conceded by a Premier League side in the past 10 months.
This season, as Newcastle rank around the middle of the table for their offensive production, their defensive stats are among the worst – if not the worst – in the division.
Team of two?
One thing that has been against Bruce over the past year is the lack of starts Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson have had together. They have both been in the starting lineup in just 13 of Newcastle’s 45 Premier League games since the start of last season.
When you include the under-appearances, they’ve both been in 20 Premier League games together, with Newcastle winning 40% of those games. However, Newcastle’s win rate drops to 16% when one or both are missing.
Wilson has missed the last four games with a thigh injury but could return this weekend. He has only started 58% of Newcastle’s Premier League games since joining (26 starts out of 45 games). The Magpies haven’t won 14 of the 16 Premier League games Wilson missed (W2, D6, L8).
Not only was he Newcastle’s top scorer last season with 12 Premier League goals, he also recorded the most assists (5).
Newcastle’s 14 seasons under Ashley – and 14 before
|Newcastle PL Record||14 seasons before Ashley||Under Ashley|
|To win %||42%||30%|
|Points per game||1.54||1.16|
|Top 4 finishes||5||0|
|Top 10 finishes||8||3|
The importance of Saint-Maximin’s game is also evident with the fact that Newcastle haven’t won any of the last 12 games the Frenchman missed in all competitions.
Saint-Maximin or Wilson have been involved in six of Newcastle’s eight Premier League goals scored this season, with the winger recording two goals and three assists, and the forward scoring two.
The turnaround will not be easy
Bruce was the last of eight permanent managers in Ashley’s 14-year tenure and it’s clear that improving the club’s fortunes from his current role won’t be an easy task.
Under Ashley, Newcastle have been relegated twice and have only had three top-10 PLs in their 12 full PL seasons – the previous 14 PL seasons have seen eight top-10s and five top-4s.
Their overall winning percentage and points per game also dropped significantly over the course of his possession.
Their struggles to get started have been going on for some time.
The Magpies have only won three of their last 16 home games in PL and a worrying statistic is that St James’ Park has not seen a back-to-back home win in PL since December 2019. They have also kept only two clean sheets in their last game. 26 home games PL.
Interestingly, Steve Bruce has won exactly the same number of points as Rafa Benitez in each of their two full Premier League seasons at the club. Bruce’s side scored three more goals but conceded 25 more goals compared to Benitez.
This suggests that it’s going to take a major reshuffle to get the club back in the right direction – and you can see what Newcastle fans are hoping to be the first step towards that when they host Tottenham, live on Sky Sports on Sunday.