Newcastle were beaten by Luton Town on Saturday with the Hatters giving the away side a taste of their own medicine.
The key to winning games for Newcastle for Eddie Howe has been intensity, organisation and discipline and whilst it has worked for large periods of Howe’s tenure, the time to evolve is now.
That’s not to say ditching an intense style of play should be dropped, but adapting could well lead to improved results.
It was only three weeks ago that Dan Burn highlighted the playing philosophy under Howe. When asked the describe the style at St James’ Park, Burn told BBC Five Live: “Intensity is our identity.”
Whilst that isn’t an issue, the Luton game showed some issues in the lack of a forward-thinking side in Bedfordshire. Luton matched the intensity within the game and Newcastle lacked ideas at times with the ball.
After all, if European football is an aspiration this season, winning away games against sides in the bottom half of the Premier League is an absolute must.
Will the injury crisis solve the problems Eddie Howe faces in the long-term?
Defensively Newcastle are an outstanding side and one of the best in the Premier League but going forward, there can be issues.
They don’t control games when in possession, why would they? They’re not a possession-based side but there doesn’t seem to be a plan when teams sit back against the Magpies.
In defence of Howe and their attacking form, they are the most productive side in the Premier LEague when it comes to creating chances.
They sit top of the xG charts when it comes to putting chances on a plate for forwards which perhaps points to a lack of quality in the final third.
Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak have had injury problems this season which means consistency in front of goal for the pair hasn’t always been possible.
There’s definitely faith in Howe to deliver the aspirations of the ownership but that doesn’t mean he isn’t under pressure to improve form after a rocky December.
January could become a make or break month for both Howe and Newcastle.