This statistic lays bare Steve Bruce's problems at Newcastle United
That’s the question many Newcastle United fans were asking as they left Stamford Bridge following yesterday’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea. Their team hadn’t played badly. Yet Newcastle didn’t have a single shot on target. Not one.
United threatened with the pace of Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, but there wasn’t a telling ball all afternoon, and Joelinton laboured up front.
Newcastle have only scored five goals so far this season. That’s nowhere near enough. So who is going to score the goals to keep the club, which lost the Premier League experience of Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez in the summer, in the division?
The £40million striker needs time to adapt, but Steve Bruce doesn’t have time on his side. He needs results – and fast.
Joelinton, physically strong and mobile, isn’t an out-and-out No9 like Rondon. He was often used on the left at previous club Hoffenheim. Is that where he should be playing for Newcastle?
Almiron’s still looking for his first United goal – almost 10 months into his career at the club. The midfielder’s pace is causing problems, but his decision-making is in question.
Bruce has suggested that he’s “short on confidence”, and if anyone needs a goal right now, it’s Almiron.
Saint-Maximin, like Almiron, is unsettling teams, but the final ball isn’t quite there – yet.
The team looks more dangerous now Saint Maximin, signed for £16.5million, has recovered from a hamstring injury. As his fitness improves, he needs to start delivering in the box.
Andy Carroll, we know, can play the No9 role, but is his ankle ready for a start after three appearances off the bench? That’s the big question ahead of Sunday’s home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
There’s a clamour for Carroll to be given a start – and that’s understandable. Bruce, however, may want to err on the side of caution given the striker’s injury record.
Dwight Gayle is a welcome extra option, though it’s hard to see how he would fit into the system. That said, he can finish, and Bruce needs finishers.