Talking Tactics

How Isak can fire Newcastle's top-four challenge

By Adrian Clarke 16 Dec 2022
Alexander Isak, Newcastle, Talking Tactics

Adrian Clarke says returning striker can have a major influence for the high-flying Magpies

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Alexander Isak (NEW)

Having claimed 30 points from their first 15 matches, Newcastle United are flying high in third place in the Premier League and the return of Isak is about to provide them with a timely boost.

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The talented forward has scored twice in only three appearances for Eddie Howe's side since his move from Real Sociedad.

Isak has been sidelined since late September with a thigh injury but the Sweden international now hopes to feature after the Premier League returns.

He made an outstanding Premier League debut, scoring in a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool and also had another ruled out.

Isak's goal v Liverpool

The 23-year-old's skill and mobility caught the eye across those three starts, which also included a a penalty at home to AFC Bournemouth.

He was a touch isolated at times, averaging fewer than nine passes per 90 minutes, but inside the final third Isak looked incredibly sharp.

Isak's excellent statistics suggest he can make a positive impact in the coming weeks and months.

Isak's stats so far
Stat Total Stat Total
Mins 244 Big chances/90 1.5
Goals 2 Conversion rate 28.6%
Mins per goal 122 Touches in opp. box/90 5.6
Shots/90 3 Succ. passes 8.5

Isak's appearances earlier in the campaign coincided when Newcastle were hampered by injuries.

Indeed, he is yet to feature alongside Allan Saint-Maximin or Callum Wilson.

When you add eight-goal Miguel Almiron into the mix, Howe will be highly encouraged by the forward options at his disposal.

Where does he fit in?

Howe has started with a 4-3-3 formation in every match so far this season.

Lying only seven points off the leaders with only one defeat so far all season, he is unlikely to deviate away from that shape in the short term.

This means Isak will either compete with Wilson for a starting berth as the lone centre-forward or be accommodated in a wide left position.

For club and country, we have seen Isak drift into wide areas to good effect and from that position, he could pop up inside the penalty area as a second striker too.

In both home matches against Crystal Palace and AFC Bournemouth, he naturally played on the left, so there is potential for he and Wilson to feature together.

Howe has some difficult choices to make, but Isak's pedigree suggests he has a big part to play in Newcastle's quest for a top-four finish.

Also in this series

Part 1: Smith Rowe return will sharpen Arsenal's cutting edge
Part 3: Martial ready to be United's leading man after Ronaldo exit
Part 4: Fofana return can put Chelsea back on front foot

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