Revealed! The key stats that helped Rafa Benitez acheive impressive season at Newcastle
Newcastle United returned to the Premier League after only one season in the Championship, with Rafa Benitez leading the team to a top ten finish.
It was widely noted that what Benitez achieved with largely the same squad who won the Championship was highly impressive.
But what do the stats say about Newcastle, collectively and individually, from the past season in the top tier?
Well, in the main, the Magpies were solid but not flashy, finishing in the middle of most metrics, like they did in the one table which matters most, the Premier League.
One area which stood out was the club’s passing numbers. Only relegated West Brom had a smaller share of possession than Newcastle’s 44.3 per cent.
With 14,028 passes the team were 17th for number of passes. Yet, they were pretty efficient when they did have the ball and were reluctant to go backwards.
Their five counter-attack goals was the fourth best in the Premier League, while they passed the ball backwards 2,018 times – only Stoke City played fewer. It still may seem a lot but it is less than half of how many Manchester City made.
Benitez liked his players to play forward. Newcastle were sixth for long passes (2,610) and seventh for through balls (67). Jonjo Shelvey’s 21 through balls was the league’s fifth highest, while Ayoze Perez also featured highly with 14.
However, it appears that players weren’t actively encouraged to cross the ball.
Newcastle’s 616 crosses were the third fewest, despite having Joselu who was in the league’s top 10 for aerial battles won (145).
Matt Ritchie was the one player afforded freedom to whip the ball in. His 190 crosses was ninth highest in the Premier League.
Ritchie, alongside Kenedy, hit the woodwork three times each.
Despite the duo’s prowess outside the box, alongside that of Shelvey’s, Newcastle scored only one goal direct from a free-kick – Henri Saivet’s surprise effort against West Ham United.
Although it was one more than penalties scored by the Magpies.
Unsurprisingly Jamaal Lascelles shows up well among the individual stats.
Only the league’s star striker’s Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud scored more headed goals than the Newcastle captain’s three.
As a collective, Newcastle were in the top five for clearances (1,125) and headed clearances (594). Individually, Lascelles was sixth for both metric individually, while he, alongside DeAndre Yedlin, made two last man tackles.
Yet, it was Mohamed Diame who was the club’s most frequent tackler with 89, putting him 11th. Newcastle were seventh with 664.
Shelvey, however, may be discouraged from tackling since he was one of only two players in the entire league to be sent off twice.