Newcastle United: Going for goals

Bafétimbi_Gomis

Gomis has been linked with a move to Newcastle this summer
Image (c) Creative Commons

Last season was a huge disappointment for Newcastle fans. The club failed to hit the heights of the previous campaign, when they finished 5th in the Premier League and ended the season playing attractive, free-flowing attacking football. During that run in, Papiss Demba Cisse, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa were near irresistible.

Fast forward twelve months and Newcastle fans can be more than forgiven for wondering what has gone wrong. The form of the previous year disappeared. One of the key reasons for this was that Newcastle became a much less potent attacking force.

Newcastle scored just 45 goals in the league last season – only Reading, Norwich, Sunderland, Stoke and QPR scored fewer. The league average was 53.

Delving a little deeper offers some interesting insights. Somewhat surprisingly, Newcastle actually attempted the 8th highest number of shots in the league over the course of the season (536, average 531).

However, their efficiency in front of goal was far less impressive, with only 45% of attempts finding their way on target (241). The average number of shots on target for all clubs was 252. Coupled with the knowledge that Newcastle required an average of almost 12 shots to register a single goal (average 10.4), and almost 5.5 shots on target to score (average 4.9), then it is clear that Newcastle’s strikers seem to be underperforming relative to their peers at other clubs.

The following table outlines how the four key strikers that Newcastle used last season fared:

Comparison of Newcastle strikers 2012/13

Newcastle striker stats

As can be seen, with the exception of Demba Ba, who scored almost 30% of Newcastle’s league goals last season, the return from the Newcastle strikers has been nowhere near good enough. The fact that Papiss Cisse has averaged less than a shot on target per game must be a concern, particularly given the impact the Senegalese hitman made when he joined the club in January 2012 and played in his more-favoured central attacking position (incidentally, it is worth noting that the striker has still scored 21 goals in 50 appearances for the club – a respectable return). While this may infer more about the quality of chances the team is creating rather than Cisse’s finishing ability, it is clear that Newcastle need to create better chances and convert them more readily.

If media reports are to be believed it would seem that moves are afoot to address at least the latter of these problems. In recent weeks, Newcastle have been linked with a host of players, including Aston Villa’s Darren Bent and French internationals Bafetimbi Gomis, Andre-Pierre Gignac, and Loic Remy.

Darren Bent

Darren Bent is the most well-known of those strikers Newcastle are linked with. Since making his breakthrough in the professional game at Ipswich, the 29 year old has enjoyed successful spells in the top-flight at Charlton, Tottenham and Sunderland. However, since his reported £24 million move to Aston Villa in January 2011, the striker’s star has begun to wane. Last season he made just 16 league appearances, eight from the bench. With just three goals to his name and Lambert’s preference for deploying Benteke, Weimann and Agbonlahor in the attacking positions, Bent’s time at Villa is surely up.

So why would Newcastle sign him? Put simply, Bent is a proven goal scorer. In 245 premier league appearances since his debut in November 2001, Bent has scored 103 premier league goals. Moreover, in his eight seasons as an established premier league player, he has managed to score double figures on five occasions – breaking the mystical 20 goal barrier 2009-10 for Newcastle’s fierce rivals Sunderland.

At a fee in the region of the £6 million being quoted in the press, Bent surely represents a low-risk option for a goal-shy Newcastle.

Loic Remy

Since joining a doomed QPR side in January 2012, Loic Remy has been a revelation in the Premier League.

Given the 26 year old’s solid track record this should come as no surprise. In 210 club appearances the French international has notched a respectable 75 goals. Indeed with 37 goals in 83 appearances in his last two seasons at previous club Marseille, the future certainly seems bright for Remy. That he was able to carry on this impressive goal record in a struggling QPR team (scoring 6 premier league goals in 14 appearances) is testament to the player’s ability.

A lethal finisher who is comfortable drifting out wide and coming in from the flank, if Remy can resolve the issues in his personal life then he would surely be a gamble worth taking for most Premier League clubs.

However, can the Geordies swallow their pride and sign the man that snubbed them so publicly in January?

Bafetimbi Gomis

A player who has been linked with Newcastle a number of times over recent years, the French international of Senegalese descent offers a more powerful alternative for Newcastle. Aside from being renowned for his impressive physical strength, Gomis also has a deadly eye for goal. His haul of 16 league goals in 37 appearances for Lyon in Ligue 1 last season meant he finished the season as the 4th top scorer the league (behind Ibrahimovic, Nice’s Dario Cvitanic and one-time Newcastle target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang).

With a career record of 127 goals in 367 games – and having reached double figures in his last seven Ligue 1 seasons – Gomis might prove to be an astute acquisition for Newcastle.

Andre-Pierre Gignac

And last, but by no means least, Andre-Pierre Gignac. The 27 year old began his career at Lorient, enjoying a loan spell at Pau before securing a permanent move to Toulouse and later, in August 2010, to Marseille for a fee reported to be in the region of EUR 18 million.

With a return of 89 goals in 288 appearances throughout his career, APG has the least impressive goals per game ratio of the players reviewed here. That said, his return of 13 goals in 31 appearances last season indicates that he does have an eye for goal. Furthermore, it is worth also pointing out that his performances were largely responsible for keeping Loic Remy on the sidelines before his transfer to QPR in January.

If Gignac was able to make as smooth a transition to Premier League life as his former team-mate, would this make him a good signing for Newcastle?

Conclusions

It is abundantly clear that Newcastle need to create more chances and score more goals if they are able to improve upon last season’s poor display. This article has considered the goalscoring component of this conundrum. As the table below highlights, it is telling that of the players reviewed, only Gomis was credited with an assist last season.

Toon strikers

Whether or not any of these represent viable options for Newcastle, only time will tell. However, given that it is unrealistic to aim for a player that will score 20 league goals a season, Newcastle fans might take heart from the fact that these are all internationals with established track records for their clubs throughout their careers.

So, which of these strikers would Newcastle fans most like to see at their club next season?

Also from James Bailey, read why Liverpool should not be frightened of losing Luis Suarez.

Comments

  1. Subz00 says:

    “While this may infer more about the quality of chances the team is creating rather than Cisse’s finishing ability, it is clear that Newcastle need to create better chances and convert them more readily.”
    Nope! he was woeful last season, saw him miss some absolute sitters.
    Nice article tho.

    • Ha, there may well be something in that. While I too wish he’d put them away, I do think he deserves credit for his movement and instinct etc. and in his defence, he had a number chalked off following dubious offside calls. If given, his return would’ve looked better. That said, glad you enjoyed the article – do check out some of the others on here, always keen to get feedback!

  2. JP...from The Rock says:

    Remy should be first choice for sure! His pace, proven goal scoring record and young age, plus his ability to play on our weak LW and as a ST is exactly what we’re crying out for. I would love to see both him and Gomis here but if I had to choose I prefer Remy.

  3. Cisse was painstakingly poor last season, missed some major goal opportunities, and spent half the time offside! Something tells me he doesn’t actually get the offside rule, because he always seems too eager, almost impatient to get to the head of the pack! Granted when he IS on his game, he can be a terrific player, but he currently seems to lack consistency.

    Of the potential strikers mentioned, I reckon Gomis seems to be the best option out there, with Remy in close second, although I would question his commitment. The toon need to forget about Bent, he’s not lived up to his potential at all, and I don’t think he’s worth taking a gamble on.

    • Thanks, James. I agree he can be an incredibly frustrating player, especially when we’ve all seen him score fantastic goals!

      The offside point is an interesting one – both Robin van Persie and Christian Benteke were caught offside more times than Cisse last season, yet that seems to not really be picked up on.

      I’ve also a bit of sympathy with Cisse – I recall him being wrongly / marginally given offside against qpr and Sunderland last season, and having two good goals taken away from him!

      That said, we clearly do need reinforcements. I agree that Gomis and Remy would be the preferred options. Here’s hoping Joe gets his finger out!!

  4. James says:

    “The club failed to hit the heights of the previous campaign, when they finished 5th in the Premier League and ended the season playing attractive, free-flowing attacking football”

    Did the reporter watch any of the games? Their performances were horrible to watch, they just somehow managed to score on the break against the run of play and win 1-0.

  5. Aidan says:

    Superb piece. One of the best amateur articles I have ever read. \you should work for Sky or the BBC with this insight, seriously impressed.

    • Thanks Aidan – glad you enjoyed the article and it’s great to receive such positive feedback.

      Hopefully you’ve had time to check out the other articles on the site. We’re still fairly new to this but are aiming to write original material that brings evidence-based analysis to a range of issues in football. So much that is written elsewhere can be poor and lazy – we hope to be different!

      Please do check back at the site over the coming weeks and months – we’ve got an interesting pipeline coming together, and always welcome views and comments!

Trackbacks

  1. […] of French International Loic Remy (that’s right, the man who snubbed them for doomed QPR). Remy will provide pace and drive to the Newcastle frontline, taking some of the pressure from Papiss… Expect a different prospect this season given the majority of the French boys have had an entire […]

  2. […] of French International Loic Remy (that’s right, the man who snubbed them for doomed QPR). Remy will provide pace and drive to the Newcastle frontline, taking some of the pressure from Papiss… Expect a different prospect this season given the majority of the French boys have had an entire […]

  3. […] the other hand, Magpies’ fans will be increasingly nervous about their team’s ability to create chances and score goals. The future of Yohan Cabaye needs to be resolved as soon as possible, with a replacement brought in […]

  4. […] Newcastle opted against signing a striker on a permanent deal in 2013, instead choosing to recruit QPR’s Loic Remy on a season long loan, after the West London club were relegated the previous season. The Frenchman has been a revelation for the Geordies, netting 13 times in the league – more than any of the other 26 strikers signed during the summer transfer window. […]

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