Most level-headed Newcastle United fans would have expected a better Premier League showing this season than the previous campaign but few could have imagined a perfect month of November. The Magpies recorded four victories to mark a 100% win rate for the calendar month. The Paddy Power Blog demystifies the ascent…
Shola the Saviour: the stats
Shola Ameobi may not have a prolific scoring record at St James’ in his 13 years at the club, but when the final whistle sounded on Saturday evening against West Brom marking a perfect month at Newcastle – there was only one man to collect the Man of the Match accolade.
The sterling performances from the big man capped a fantastic month for Ameobi who – barring terrible misfortune – has likely booked a seat to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with Nigeria. The 32 year-old has formed a productive partnership with loan-signing Loic Rémy, helping the Frenchman rack up an eight goal haul so far this season.
When Rémy isn’t busy putting away his chances in front of goal, Shola is giving defenders something new to think about with his physical prowess and his incredibly charming smile.
The 6’3 forward has seemingly transformed into a top notch target man in the space of 30 days, and the following stats only prove what an integral part he has played in NUFC’s much improved Premier League season so far.
Change of mentality
The team have started to play passing football once again, and have managed to go from the team to have played the most long balls last season, to the side with the least long punts forward so far in the current campaign.
- The Magpies have an 80% pass completion rate this season – impressive by any accounts.
In that very same article from August, I mentioned the need for Newcastle to fine tune their corners. Before November, le Toon had not managed a single goal from such a set piece for two whole seasons! When Yoan Gouffran nodded in the opener against the Baggies on Saturday, it marked the side’s second goal from a corner in a row – a staggering change of fortune that not even Joe Kinnear could have predicted (although he might take credit for the achievement yet).
- Toon raiders: Set Newcastle as your favourite team with Paddy Power here for exclusive stats and offers [mobile | desktop]
The Lure of Rio
With all the above considered, and of course the obvious lack of Europa League action this season -there is still one final ingredient to Newcastle’s recent show-stopping form and that is the approaching 2014 World Cup.
Each week when the men in Black and White take to the pitch, the majority of them are spurred on by the chance of playing at the World Cup, and such has resulted in some notably impressive personal performances from the likes of Krul, Rémy, Cabaye and indeed Mathieu Debuchy.
From now until the end of the 2013/14 Premier League season you can expect the entire starting eleven to give 100% each game and that is something which happens to go down quite well with the Geordie faithful.
So there you have it! Shola Ameobi, a tactical alteration, and the prospect of playing at football’s most anticipated event are the reasons behind such a dramatic improvement from men from Newcastle. Fans of the historic club certainly have reason to look forward to the rest of the season….
You can follow Kevin Doocey on Twitter @KevinDoocey