Talking Tactics

Isak poses biggest threat to Arsenal's title hopes

By Adrian Clarke 4 May 2023

Adrian Clarke on the in-form Newcastle star who boasts a better conversion rate than Erling Haaland

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Player analysis - Alexander Isak (NEW)

He may be 25 goals behind the Premier League’s top scorer Erling Haaland, but Isak boasts an even more impressive conversion rate than the Manchester City superstar.

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Netting with 40 per cent of his efforts, excluding blocks, Newcastle United’s in-form forward has proven himself to be an extremely clinical finisher during his debut season.

The Swede's right-foot strikes tend to be crisply struck and unerringly accurate. Remarkably, 22 of his 25 efforts have been on target.

Scoring seven times since mid-March, Isak is also one of the division’s form strikers.

It is imperative for Sunday’s opponents Arsenal to starve Isak of service and ensure he does not get on the end of too many opportunities at St James’ Park.

Top shooting stats 2022/23*
Player Conversion rate Player Shot accuracy
Alexander Isak 40.00% Alexander Isak 88.00%
Erling Haaland 38.04% Phil Foden 75.00%
Phil Foden 35.71% Son Heung-min 70.37%
Miguel Almiron 33.33% Ollie Watkins 69.84%
Gabriel Martinelli 28.85% Marcus Rashford 64.71%
Callum Wilson 28.85% Harry Kane 61.11%

*10 goals or more

One of Isak’s standout qualities is his ability to calmly improvise at speed.

His all-round game is naturally spontaneous, but the goals he scored in victories away to Nottingham Forest and West Ham United spoke volumes about his speed of thought.

Flicking out his right foot to net with a tremendous volley from Joe Willock’s cross was on his season highlights at the City Ground, as was his brilliant lob from distance into an empty net in their 5-1 win at West Ham.

Isak's goal v West Ham

Isak’s spectacular form has begun to bring the best out of fellow striker Callum Wilson too.

Wilson, Newcastle’s leading scorer, has only started two of the last seven Premier League matches, but has registered an amazing eight goals during that period, netting four times as a substitute.

Such is their form, Eddie Howe has become increasingly happy to use his two strikers at the same time, with Isak often moving towards the left.

The gifted 23-year-old was denied an official assist for his part in Jacob Murphy’s goal against Everton last month.

However, Isak’s mesmeric dribble down the left, before slaloming across the byline to set up his team-mate, was one of the season’s best individual moments.

Isak's dribble and skill v Everton

Happy to play out on the left if Wilson is deployed as a central striker, Isak also showed his quality when crossing for his partner to score in a 3-1 win over Southampton last time out.

Alexander Isak map 1
Isak's first-half attacking display v Southampton
Alexander Isak map 2
Isak's second-half display v Southampton after he moved to the left following the introduction of Callum Wilson
Best mins/goal 2022/23
Player Mins/goal*
Erling Haaland 71.49
Callum Wilson 103.67
Alexander Isak 107.70
Harry Kane 121.84

*Min. five goals

Newcastle scored 23 goals in seven matches during an impressive spell in April, winning on six occasions.

The form of Isak, and a rejuvenated Wilson, was a key ingredient and over the course of this season, they have been incredibly efficient.

Arsenal must contain the pair over the 90 minutes if they are to come away with anything from St James' Park and keep their title hopes alive.

Next: Adrian Clarke on Monday's matches

Also in this series

Part 1: Allardyce must bring back basics at Leeds
Part 3: Key battles of Monday's matches

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