You do not need to be an expert to analyse where Newcastle United have fallen short this season. Goals, and a lack of them, has been a glaring issue for this side from the moment the first ball was kicked this campaign. On 13 occasions the Magpies have failed to score in a Premier League match, only four of those have been goalless draws. Due to the overwhelming attacking impotence of Steve Bruce’s side throughout the season, the Toon have been dropping points where they could have been collecting them.
The Magpies manager himself has come out and admitted: “I think we need four or five players to add to the squad of players we’ve got, so, we’ll go to work on that. I’ve always said with Joe [Joelinton], I think he’s better playing to a side, that suits him, so it’s quite possible that a centre-forward could be on the list.”
Quite possible ought to be a certainty. Defenders have chipped in with 15 Premier League goals this season, an unusually large haul, which has covered some attackers’ blushes, and they cannot be relied upon to find the net with such frequency again next term.
For almost the entirety of this campaign, Jonjo Shelvey has been Newcastle’s top-scorer on six goals, yet he has found the next just once since December. Additionally, Miguel Almiron is the Magpies’ most potent goal scorer in all competitions with eight, having failed to find the net before December 21.
Meanwhile, combined, Andy Carroll, Dwight Gayle, Joelinton and Yoshinori Muto have racked up five Premier League goals, a dismal tally for a quartet of strikers who have 405 English top-flight appearances between them. Only three sides have found the back of the net less frequently than Newcastle’s 37 goals, Norwich City, 26, Crystal Palace, 30, and Watford, 34, with the Canaries and the Hornets experiencing dismal campaigns which could see them both relegated.
Newcastle’s bewildering lack of goals is a fundamental issue for this side which could have serious implications if not corrected next term. With one match remaining the Magpies have outperformed their expected goals conceded by 11.46, had those gone in, it is predicted Bruce would have found himself 13.15 points worse off on 30.85 points this term. Newcastle are bottom of the expected points table, and the statistical model suggests that the Toon have been incredibly fortunate not to have been relegated.
Securing a reliable source of goals is imperative for survival next season, without them, Newcastle may not be so fortunate as to outperform mathematical models and will likely be returning to the Championship.