Newcastle United’s starting XI in their 1-0 win over Leeds United showed that plenty still needs doing as clubs head into the final week of the January transfer window.
HWTL! ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/TikF8C1WWx
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) January 22, 2022
Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood, both signings made this January, started but there remained a familiar look to the Tyneside club’s side. And while they ultimately capitalised on an Ilan Meslier mistake to register a narrow victory over Leeds, more quality is evidently needed.
How many points do they need to avoid relegation?
The 40 point mark is usually considered “safety” in the Premier League, with only one club having been relegated with more than 40 points in the League’s history (When West Ham were relegated with 42 in 2002-2003).
However, this mark has only been reached once in the last decade by the club that finished in 17th place (Watford in 2016-17). Aston Villa survived by the skin of their teeth with just 35 points in 2019-20, but it was a close run affair and one that the Magpies will wish to avoid.
Meanwhile, the lowest points total a club have avoided being relegated is 34, achieved by West Bromwich Albion in 2004-05.
In short, then, history tells us that Newcastle need to finish with more than 34 points in order to survive the drop.
On current form, they average 0.71 points per game, good enough for a measly 27 points when extrapolated for the season. In their last 17 games, the Magpies need to find a minimum of 19 points. So, what else do they need to do this window?
Priority number one: Centre Back
It is truly baffling that this issue has not yet been addressed in January. Understandably, the Magpies have lofty ideals following their cash injection, but their chase of Sven Botman and Diego Carlos have not yet borne fruit, and threaten never to.
Newcastle will push again in the next hours for Diego Carlos. Sevilla are trying to resist in every way as they did for Koundé/Chelsea deal last summer – but Newcastle are willing to insist. Key hours ahead. #NUFC
Diego already agreed personal terms days ago. He’s waiting. pic.twitter.com/Oy4U2Ur3Bs
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 21, 2022
Meanwhile, the likes of Nat Phillips remain on the transfer market. While not a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination, he offers a Premier League experienced upgrade on current options for Eddie Howe.
One if not two new defenders are needed before the deadline passes, with Newcastle still having conceded the second-most goals in the top-flight, with only Norwich having shipped more.
Another striker in the works?
Another attacker wouldn’t go amiss either. A glance at Eddie Howe’s options from the bench against Leeds sees Dwight Gayle and Miguel Almiron as the only recognised attacking options to call upon.
Gayle, now 32 years old, last scored a Premier League goal in December 2020, while Almiron’s brace against Southampton, the last time he found the net in the Premier League, came in February 2021. Hardly game-changing options.
The romantic story would be for Callum Wilson to return from injury and propel Newcastle to safety, but the 29-year-old’s injury record suggests that this cannot be a reliable option, while Chris Wood has found the net just 3 times in the Premier League this season.
As the old saying goes, “goals win games”, and to that end Newcastle need to add another forward to their ranks in order to be confident of survival.
Links to Duvan Zapata make sense, and would be a good signing despite the fact that he is now 30 years old. If it is not Zapata, however, Newcastle simply have to bring someone in.
Central midfield- can they get by?
One position that could be a useful place to upgrade again is in central midfield. Joelinton has been reborn in the box-to-box role that Eddie Howe has used him in, but Joe Willock has struggled since his big-money move from Arsenal in the summer, failing to replicate the form that made Newcastle splash out on him.
Meanwhile, Jonjo Shelvey is a fabulous technician, but often hit-and-miss in the middle of the park. While another body would be useful to take some of the onus off the trio, it could be too much to ask this January with so much to address elsewhere unless loan moves for either Jesse Lingard or Dele Alli materialise late on.
Useful but not priorities- Goalkeeper and left-back
The goalkeeping situation is not pretty: Newcastle have a post-shot xG of -4.6, meaning that they have conceded 4.6 more goals than they “should” have as per the model, while their goalkeeper’s save percentage stands at just 62%, the third-worst in the top-flight.
But, should they strengthen defensively, the Magpies will see this have less of an effect, as whoever is between the posts will have fewer shots to save.
Likewise, left-back would be a nice addition, but is far less important than strengthening the spine of the side.
Work to be done
In the last week of the transfer window then, Newcastle need to be looking to bring in at least a centre-back and a striker. A midfielder would be a nice addition, while a goalkeeper and left-back are good but not crucial additions this January.
Newcastle fans will be hoping to see some movement even with the club currently on winter break in Jeddah.
This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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