How Newcastle United's defenders are doing their bit - not just with their goals
Newcastle United again had their defenders to thank in the 2-1 win over Bournemouth - and not just for their goals.
After drawing 1-1 at home to Wolves, United had the second-worst goalscoring record in the top-flight with expected goals at an all-time low.
Yet a little tactical tweak from Steve Bruce has made the Magpies an exciting team to watch going forward with chances aplenty. The challenge now, of course, is to maintain it.
But the performances from the previous two games have been extremely encouraging and that all starts from defence.
In noticeably situations against the Cherries, Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett - who replaced Jamaal Lascelles - were positioned as full-backs with De Andre Yedlin and Jetro Willems effectively wingers.
Both Willems and Yedlin were the driving force behind United’s attack - the latter even getting on the scoresheet. It is a move that has taken the heat of Allan Saint-Maximum and Miguel Almiron.
Because the pressure has eased on the pair to the Magpies’ single attacking outlet, both players played with a lot of more freedom.
Saint-Maximin arguably put in his best performance since his £16.5million move from Nice in the summer. Almiron worked tirelessly as ever.
They both missed chances yesterday but instead of hearing the groans we would have heard a few weeks back, it was indeed gestures of encouragement.
And with seven of United’s 11 Premier League goals scored by defenders, it just goes to show that strength-in-depth in the backline works in many ways than one.