It’s around this point in the season where stats begin to reveal the strengths and traits of different clubs and their players, and unfortunately for Newcastle, there is already one big weakness coming to light.

Last season Newcastle’s defence and midfield hit impressive heights in many different statistics, with the likes of Mo Diame having one of the best tackle rates in the league before Christmas, and Fabian Schar one of the best interception rates across the whole season.

But this year the club already find themselves top of the charts in an unwanted stat: Offsides.

Newcastle are way out in front with the most offsides of the season with 20, five more than second placed Arsenal.

And perhaps most embarrassingly, the problem seems to fall at the shoulders of one man.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Almiron’s offsides

Of Newcastle’s 20 offsides, a massive nine of them have come from Miguel Almiron.

The Paraguayan now has the most offsides of any player in the league so far, something which is becoming a frustrating trait of his.

This was never more evident than against Watford before the international break, where he racked up five offside calls in one match.

It’s maybe not surprising that a player with his pace and agility would rank highly in this chart, but it’s certainly not impressive.

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy is third on the list for example, a player who is always trying to beat the last man with his pace.

However Leicester fans’ frustrations are probably eased by the fact he’s scored three goals in five this season.

The obvious thing to take from these stats is that Almiron has no natural instinct for making runs.

Beating a defensive line with good timing is a skill and on the evidence so far, Almiron doesn’t have it.

 

He already has more than double the offsides he managed last season, where he played in left-midfield for Rafa Benitez.

This season he’s played as both a striker and in right-midfield, but now suddenly has racked up offsides.

So is the problem really all to do with Almiron, or is it in fact more due with the Toon’s formation and style?

Formation issue?

The second thing to take from these stats is that perhaps Newcastle’s formation is making things difficult for it’s strikers and attacking players.

Yoshinori Muto was subbed on in the 66th minute for the Toon against Liverpool this weekend, and managed an impressive three offsides in a very short cameo.

The Toon’s stoic and defensive style of 5-4-1 means the space between attack and midfield is often very stretched, and this might very well be the problem.

They’re only option most of the time is to look for a counter attack, with a long ball from Jonjo Shelvey or Fabian Schar the only source of creativity.

But whereas Joelinton might look to challenge a defender for a knock down, the likes of Muto and Almiron know they’re only option is to beat the defensive line.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

This takes phenomenal timing from both the runner and the passer, and the Toon perhaps go for this option a bit too often, leading to rushed play, and offsides.

Perhaps Newcastle need Almiron back in a more central position where he can bridge the gap, and help Newcastle improve their build up play.

There’s plenty of time to go of course, and Bruce is still finding his best team and formation after being blighted by injuries.

But if the manager doesn’t solve this problem soon, it may become a real source of annoyance for the Toon Army.

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