3. Newcastle United
I wrote a piece not long ago stating the Magpies manager, Steve Bruce, should be Premier League manager of the year. My choice of the former Manchester United player was because Newcastle kept getting unexpected results and managed to stay out of the relegation zone.
Newcastle United are in 13th position in the Premier League. They are eight points clear of the drop zone. NUFC had wins over Man United, Chelsea, and Tottenham all by 1-0 scorelines.
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They even tied with Manchester City with two goals and an xG of 0.21. Newcastle is last in The Top Flight in xG and xPTS but ranks fourth in xGA. The Magpies are also last in goals scored, but eighth in goals against.
Steve Bruce does not have any consistent offensive weapons. His leading goal scorer, Jonjo Shelvey, has five. After him, there are nine players tied with two goals.
The strategy for NUFC has been to bunker like a turtle in their final third. Per FBref.com, they are at the top of the league at applying pressure on the opposition in their final third. They are also fourth in the league in tackles in their final third.
The turtle strategy has led to an opposition goal conversion rate of +11.33, which is third in the Top Flight. They have an xGA of 52.33 but have conceded 41 goals. As a result of their solid bunkering and opportunistic offense, Newcastle’s points over expected points sit at 13.12, second in the league.