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Talking Tactics

Saint-Maximin's talent vital for goal-shy Newcastle

Adrian Clarke 23 Oct 2019
Saint-Maximin, Newcastle

Adrian Clarke says winger is well suited to Steve Bruce's counter-attacking style and can underline his growing influence against Wolves

Adrian Clarke is looking at key tactical talking points ahead of Matchweek 10. 

Goals have been in short supply for Newcastle United this season but the form of winger Allan Saint-Maximin promises to lift the mood.

Steve Bruce's Magpies have netted just five times in the Premier League in 2019/20 ahead of Sunday's home match with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Only bottom club Watford, also with five, have registered so few goals since the start of the campaign.

But Saint-Maximin, who returned from a hamstring injury last month, has caught the eye with his bursts of pace against Manchester United and Chelsea.

Matthew Longstaff’s winner at home to United arrived on the back of a swift breakaway initially led by the Frenchman’s mazy run down the middle of the pitch.

He may have made only three starts, one of which was cut short by injury after just 17 minutes at Tottenham Hotspur, but his influence is clear. 

Saint-Maximin's impact v Man Utd

Saint-Maximin is well suited to Bruce’s counter-attacking style, helping the Magpies spring from defence to attack in a faster, more efficient way.

He is a player who gets you on the edge of your seat, and if he starts consistently delivering an end product, he is sure to cement his place as a huge fans' favourite.

The 22-year-old's ability to break the lines with quick feet and a sharp turn of pace is already giving Newcastle a fresh dimension.

He has emerged as their most exciting creative talent by some distance. 

Saint-Maximim's attacking influence
  Per 90 Club rank
Dribbles attempted 10.4 1
Dribbles completed 5.2 1
Key passes open play 2.4 1
Most shots 2 1

It is hard to make concrete judgements after just 225 minutes of Premier League action, but the stats don't lie.

Saint-Maximin, who scored six goals for Nice in Ligue One last season, has laid on 2.4 chances per 90 minutes in open play so far this term.

Not only is he ranked ranked seventh in the entire league in that regard, he is also the Premier League’s most prolific dribbler. 

Attempting more take-ons than Southampton's Sofiane BoufalCrystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and Arsenal's record signing Nicolas Pepe, he is extremely confident in his ability.

That willingness to go past defenders is a vital quality for a team struggling to create chances.

Dribbles per 90 minutes
Player Dribbles attempted Dribbles completed
Allan Saint-Maximin 10.4 5.2
Sofiane Boufal 10.3 5.4
Wilfried Zaha 8.0 5.0
Adama Traore 7.1 3.7
Nicolas Pepe 6.5 4.2 

Right now Saint-Maximin has the surprise factor, catching teams off guard with his lightning-fast breaks.

Don't be surprised if Newcastle's opponents start to set themselves up differently to combat the winger's threat.

But on home soil against Wolves this Sunday, Saint-Maximin has the look of a man who can ignite the match.

He is unpredictable and still raw, but in Newcastle’s quest to score more goals he is quickly emerging as a key figure.

Also in this series

Part 1: Wood's aerial threat can bring Chelsea down to earth
Part 2: Southampton need to find clinical edge
Part 4: Pochettino's use of Son key to Anfield hopes

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