Naturally, a lot has been made of Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson’s arrivals in Newcastle. The pair shone together at Bournemouth, and they also made the move to Tyneside on the same day.
The pair seem inseparable, according to ex-Bournemouth assistant Hugo Faria. Speaking to The Chronicle, the former Cherries staff member described them as a “good couple” off the pitch, and “connected” on it.
That much is represented purely by their statistics in the 2018/19 campaign. They combined for 12 goals in that season, a tally bettered only by Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer in 1994/95. Wilson netted 14 goals and grabbed nine assists, while Fraser scored seven and assisted 14.
12 – Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson combined for 12 Premier League goals in 2018-19 – only Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton (13 in 1994-95) have combined for more in a single campaign in the competition. Toons. pic.twitter.com/HnaNA0eWKC
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 7, 2020
However, don’t expect such telepathy to happen naturally at St James’ Park. Steve Bruce must still do one thing to ensure they click.
Unusual Systems & Shapes
As WhoScored’s archives will show, the ex-Bournemouth stars performed their heroics while typically in a 4-4-2 formation. Fraser mainly operated as a left-midfielder, while Wilson was a left-forward alongside Josh King.
Somewhat worryingly, Bruce only used a 4-4-2 system twice last season. That isn’t to say that the duo won’t still do well, but the ex-Sunderland boss’ favourite formation is a 5-4-1. A shape in which the Toon Army’s new recruits operated in just twice during 2018/19.
Tellingly, Bournemouth lost both games, conceding four and scoring one.
If Bruce continues with the 5-4-1, it will take Wilson and Fraser some getting used to. The Magpies boss must be careful not to just throw the pair into his preferred lineup and expect them to replicate their Bournemouth form, or he may be in for a shock.