Late Analysis: Newcastle United

Newcastle United managed to record their first victory of the season with a 3-0 win over West Ham United, and the result didn’t come from a poor performance from their opposition or even a blessing from the football gods, but rather a managerial stroke of genius from Rafa Benitez. 

Now this clever change doesn’t come under the same umbrella as Liverpool in Istanbul, but it was significant enough to change how the team played compared to their loss to Huddersfield Town last week, and the general mindset of the players. The inclusion of Joselu to the starting side is the masterstroke we are talking about. It is simple, and perhaps obvious, but it made a huge difference and may be the alteration needed to lift Newcastle United out of the dark abyss and into a bright euphoria.

Before we continue, the Spaniard was one of a handful of signings for the Magpies, worth a fee of £5.5 million from Stoke City.

Joselu came into the team ahead of Dwight Gayle, which offered up both positives and negatives. The obvious benefits come from the Spaniard’s structure, he is bigger, stronger and taller. However, he is not as fast or lethal with the ball at his feet in a dribbling sense. Overall though, Joselu works better with the players around him. Christian Atsu and Ayoze Perez have similar skill set to Gayle, so playing them together doesn’t make much sense, there needs to be an offset. While given the crossing ability of Matt Ritchie it seems obvious to stick a bigger target in the box.

If you are not sure on the swap check out the stat comparison:


  • Appearances: 1
  • Goals: 1
  • Shots: 6
  • On target: 6
  • Shot assists: 3
  • Passing acc: 71%


  • Appearances: 2
  • Goals: 0
  • Shots: 3
  • On target: 1
  • Shot assists: 0
  • Passing acc: 63%

Even though Joselu has played a game less than Gayle, he is already ahead by quite a margin in multiple areas. Although that is not all due to Joselu, because his inclusion creates someone for Atsu and Perez to bounce off and link up with, not to mention the amount of attention he draws from defenders with his height. Secondly, it gives Ritchie a target, and considering the Newcastle United midfielder has made 19 crosses already this campaign it will have a huge impact.

Finally, we should probably close this out with a thought on Gayle because he can provide plenty for Newcastle United even with Joselu in the lineup. The reasoning is written above, Gayle plays a similar style to Atsu and Perez, he is fast, direct and a tricky dribbler, he also scored 23 goals in 34 games for the Magpies last season. If he was to play off the scraps Joselu creates like his teammates did against the Hammers goals are almost guaranteed. Provided he doesn’t move on during the transfer window.

With these combinations in mind, it changes Newcastle United’s attacking attitude. Instead of grinding away to craft the perfect chance for Gayle, Joselu’s ruggedness can cause a goal opportunity out of absolutely nothing, opening up avenues for Atsu, Perez and even Gayle to pounce on. Ritchie’s crossing ability will actually get put to use, and that then gives Joselu more ways to add to his tally. Sometimes the best changes are the simplest ones, and although it might look rough around the edges, Newcastle United will be big benefactors.

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