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Newcastle’s transformation in numbers: High turnovers, a new-found pressing approach – and Bruno Guimaraes

Newcastle went from relegation contenders to one of the Premier League’s leading sides in the second half of last season. 38 points from their final 19 games ranked third-best in the table, behind only Liverpool and Manchester City, and 27 more than they took from their opening 19 games.

That 38 points was also the most they have accumulated from any 19-game Premier League sequence in 10 years. Clearly Eddie Howe’s side have made dramatic strides during his short time on Tyneside, and not solely in terms of results.

Assessing off-the-ball metrics from the opening two weeks of the season, Newcastle feature as a surprise leader in several categories: most high turnovers, most pressed sequences and most possessions won in the final third. They have also started their sequences higher up the field than any side, excluding Manchester City.


Sunday 21st August 4:00pm


Kick off 4:30pm


This is in stark contrast to recent seasons. Appearing low in these categories often translates to a side preferring to sit deep and concede possession, as Newcastle have long been associated with doing. Under Howe, however, all of a sudden this no longer seems to be the plan.

While it’s unwise to draw too much from such a small sample size just yet, a look further back confirms how this gradual change in style has accompanied Newcastle’s upturn in form.

Since the start of last season, Newcastle have gradually been keeping more of the ball and relinquishing their previous tendencies to play so deep.

This has also coincided with a more proactive approach off the ball. A year ago, Newcastle averaged five high turnovers per game from their opening six Premier League fixtures. From their last six Premier League games, they are currently making double that amount.

A key factor in this stylistic transition has been the signing of Bruno Guimaraes. Off the ball, in particular, he provides his manager with the tools to implement this shift in approach. The midfielder has more tackles and duels won than any other Premier League player since making his first start, leading his club’s new-found approach on how, and where, to win back the ball.

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With the ball, he’s the ideal focal point for more sustained periods of possession. He currently averages 70 touches per 90 minutes, completing 11 passes in the final third – totals no Newcastle player managed in the last four seasons.

He’s also been one of the division’s most persistent dribblers, winning more fouls than any other player, with opponents struggling to dispossess him. Additionally, only Kevin De Bruyne has played more through balls.

Newcastle’s recent success is considerable, and has come hand-in-hand with Guimaraes’ arrival. The midfielder has won 12 of his 19 Premier League appearances – as many as his club won in their previous 55 games across three seasons.

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This weekend’s game with Manchester City provides the ultimate challenge to this burgeoning style. Newcastle lost both games by an aggregate score of 9-0 last season – though few sides will face the champions in more consistent form this year. Win on Sunday, and the expectations of where these improvements can take Newcastle will be significantly raised.

Watch Newcastle vs Manchester City live on Sky Sports Premier League from 3.30pm on Sunday; kick-off at 4.30pm.



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