Newcastle United are expected to see very little of the ball against Manchester United on Saturday.
The Magpies might have so few touches that we end the fourth gameweek ranked bottom of a certain Premier League category.
After three games, only Burnley (1290) and Rafael Benitez’s Everton (1426) have had fewer touches than Newcastle in the Premier League so far, according to FBref.
But Steve Bruce’s side are currently averaging having more possession (45.3%) than the likes of Tottenham (45%) and Arsenal (39.7%).
So why few touches? It is in the midfield third where Newcastle are falling foul.
Only Burnley (515) and Everton again (521) have had fewer touches in that specific area than the Magpies (591). For context, Manchester City lead the midfield charts with 1297 touches. Brighton, who rank seventh in that category, have had 867 touches.
Midfield was always an area of concern
It’s not a surprise that Sean Dyche’s Burnley rank bottom given their style of play and although Benitez’s Everton sit below Newcastle, the former Toon boss has seven points from three games.
With Newcastle not having a ball-playing midfielder, the team looks disjointed and the onus is on Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin to produce the goods.
Under Bruce, it’s hard to identify what he wants the team to do. There’s no clear style of play.
Newcastle need a player like Winks
The 10-time England international has fallen out of favour at Tottenham, but would have instantly improved our midfield.
It seemed like a centre-midfielder was Newcastle’s priority on deadline day, with failed bids for Hamza Choudhury and Boubacar Kamara.
In the end neither player arrived, but Winks would have been a better addition regardless.
Winks enjoys getting on the ball and dictating the tempo of a match. He would have brought an air of calmness to St James’ Park and when things got frantic. He could slow the pace of the game down.
Newcastle need players who are brave enough to take the ball in pressure situations. Winks does exactly that.
A bid might be resurrected in January but it seems unlikely given Newcastle’s financial ‘limitations’.