With the Premier League paused for the FIFA World Cup 2022, Adrian Clarke reflects on notable tactical changes in the season so far.
High-flying Newcastle have made astonishing improvements under Eddie Howe.
After 15 matches of 2021/22 they had won just one match, collecting a mere 10 points.
Defensively they were struggling, conceding 30 goals and registering a single clean sheet by this same stage last time around.
Right now, however, Newcastle are sitting pretty in third place with three times as many points, 30, having conceded just 11 goals, the joint-best record in the top flight.
Goalkeeper Nick Pope has also collected seven clean sheets.
Tactically, Howe has made a number of changes, but it is the Magpies' brave and dynamic off-the-ball work that most stands out.
Transforming them from a side who sat deep and played with a low block, into arguably the best pressing outfit in the division is nothing short of remarkable.
Newcastle's incredible improvement
|21/22||PL rank||22/23||PL rank|
|Passes per defensive action||15.3||17th||11.0||3rd|
Last season no team produced fewer pressed sequences than Newcastle, who also ranked 15th for high turnovers.
Squeezing higher up the pitch with a more positive mindset, Newcastle's organised and aggressive pressing means they top the Premier League rankings in both departments.
Howe has unquestionably made Newcastle a far more difficult side to play against.