Alexander Isak’s unwanted Newcastle United record and Leicester City hope
Newcastle's record signing made his comeback from a thigh injury to start his first match since September against League One side Sheffield Wednesday. Isak played the opening 45 minutes before being replaced by Chris Wood.
In the second half Sheffield Wednesday secured victory with Josh Windass grabbing a brace before substitute Bruno Guimaraes pulled a goal back as the match ended 2-1 at Hillsborough.
Isak waiting to make his impact
When a player is signed for around £60million, there is always going to be plenty of expectation on said player’s shoulders, and that’s no different with Isak. The 23-year-old made an instant impact with a fine goal on his debut at Liverpool back in August but Newcastle went on to lose the game and things have been fairly frustrating for the Swedish striker since.
A penalty in an uninspiring draw against Bournemouth in September made it two goals in three starts for Isak before he was hit by injury while on international duty with Sweden. The thigh issue ultimately kept the former Real Sociedad man out of action for over almost four months.
With Howe keeping coy on his line-up ahead of the match, it came as a surprise to see Isak thrust into the side from the cold.
Against League One opposition, Isak showed glimpses of being levels above but still looked like a player significantly short of competitive match sharpness. His touch was heavy at times, he completed just 50% of his attempted passes and he squandered a great early chance to give Newcastle the lead as Wednesday goalkeeper Cameron Dawson parried away the United striker’s close range header.
Dawson denied Isak again from an angle shortly afterwards. After the game, Isak admitted they were both chances he’d ‘usually score’.
"I think the sharpness will help,” he said. "These are chances I'd usually score. That’s football, the ball wouldn't go in. Hopefully, I’ll get more chances against Leicester.”
Eddie Howe ‘really pleased’
In 45 minutes, Isak was able to pose a threat and although he probably should have scored at least once. Still, Howe was happy with his record signing amid the disappointment of the result.
“I think he came through well, I thought he played very well,” the United head coach told BBC. “I was really pleased with him, he had a few chances to score, he looked lively and his movement was good.
"It was a good 45 minutes and that was always the plan with Alex to play 45, we didn’t want to risk him for more than that today.”
An unwanted record
Although Isak’s two goals in four appearances is the best goals to game ratio of any Newcastle player this season, he is still waiting to taste his first victory for the club.
Considering Newcastle’s impressive record this season, it’s unfortunate for the club’s record signing to have featured in their only two defeats.
Although he can’t really be blamed, it’s an unwanted record that he’ll be looking to help put right as soon as possible, starting at home to Leicester on Tuesday night (8pm kick-off). He may not start, but could well have some involvement.