Newcastle United have scored just six goals in their last eight Premier League games, resulting in the side picking up just 11 points out of a possible 24 since the World Cup break.
The underlying numbers are generally good with 2.16 xG being created against Liverpool at home and 1.83 xG against Crystal Palace away, yet in both games we failed to find the back of the net.
It is certainly not time to panic, but if we are to secure a top six finish and possibly make a push for Champions League qualification, changes are likely required. Here’s some possible options Eddie Howe could explore ahead of upcoming games against Man City and Wolves.
A run of starts for our £60m club record signing.
Isak has performed well of late and looked lively in his appearance off the bench in the Carabao Cup final. Despite not scoring in any of his last three league appearances (two starts, one substitute) his link up play outside the 18 yard box is likely to help the side rediscover some form in front of goal. His preferred position is as a striker and a clear run of games would benefit the player this season and going forward.
Some fans have called for a 4-2-3-1 formation with the Swedish international in the no.10 role behind Wilson but I see no reason for a change in formation unless it is necessitated by injuries. Wilson’s poor form post-World Cup is clear to see. His inability to help the team inside and outside the box has really hampered the side in front of goal and spell on the side lines looks best for all parties.
Gordon in for tiring Almiron?
Eddie Howe has made it clear in press conferences that he sees £40m man Anthony Gordon as a winger, but he deployed him as a no.10 at Bournemouth. His versatility is one of the reasons the club pulled the trigger on signing the England U-21 international.
Miguel Almiron’s sensational goal scoring form has clearly dried up post-WC and sides are beginning to defend in numbers on our right hand side. We are becoming far too predictable with our interplay down the right and as such it is easily being nullified by opposition teams.
The use of Anthony Gordon as a winger, whether that be on the right hand side with Maxi on the left or vice versa is an exciting prospect. Trippier would benefit from a winger who can consistently beat their full back in 1v1 situations, as it would result in opposition defenders being dragged out of position rather than anticipating a Kieran Trippier cross into the box.
It may do Miggy well to have a deserved rest and come back revitalised.
The return of Matt Targett
Matt Targett’s return to training could be a big boost to Newcastle’s chance creation from the left hand side. Dan Burn’s versatility is fantastic as a squad player and he will be vital next season should we reach a European competition. However, it is far too easy for opposition defenders to double up on Maxi without having to worry about the threat of Dan Burn in the final third.
Targett may not equal the creative output of Kieran Trippier, but he will give Maxi an option on the overlap, as he did for Jack Grealish during his time at Aston Villa. It would also help the side to become far less predictable and balance out our attacking output from both sides.
With Manchester City (A) up next it could be seen as a free hit of recent years, but there’s always a chance with this current crop of players and a shake up of the starting 11 could yet boost our chances.