Newcastle United Striker Comparison 2010/2011

With Alan Pardew’s main transfer target this summer being a top class striker, it is important to look at what Newcastle currently have available on the striker front in order to see what type of striker is needed. Newcastle United have struggled to find the back of the net in their pre-season matches and that has heightened the need to find a goalscorer to fill the void that was left when Andy Carroll was sold to Liverpool at the end of January 2011.

We will look at the 2010/2011 premier league performances of the four Newcastle United strikers that are still on the books in an attempt to assess what these strikers offer the club, and which of them impressed in their time on the pitch. We will also examine the performance of new recruit Demba Ba during his time at the relegated West Ham United side, and how this compares to his new teammates.

Peter LovenkrandsNile RangerShola AmeobiLeon BestDemba Ba
Substitute On723722
Minutes Played14625621756752932
Passing / Chance Creation
Total Passes323143554189280
Total Accurate Passes23286393122206
% Accurate Passes72%60%71%65%74%
Minutes per Pass54646
Chances created121112611
Minutes per Chance Created1225114612585
Minutes per Offside97941103693
Shooting / Goalscoring
Total Team Goals5656565643
% of goals involvement16.07%1.79%16.07%10.71%16.28%
Total Shots (incl blocked)4618523349
Shots (excl. blocked)4015392635
Min per Shot (incl. blocked)3231342319
On Target (excl. blocked)60%60%23%35%54%
Shots per Goal (incl. blocked)7.678.675.57
Minutes per Goal2440293125133
% On Target25%018%27%50%
Clear cut chances13613136
Minutes per Clear Cut Chance1129413558155
Conversion Rate31%038%46%33%
Physical Performance
Possession Duels Won36%42%42%50%45%
Aerial Duels Won30%50%49%52%43%
Flick ons19%7%33%40%36%
Ball Control
Loss of Possession58381064054
Minute per Loss of Possession2515171917
Touches per loss of Possession8.476.618.387.438.41

Peter Lovenkrands

Peter LovenkrandsMany of Peter Lovenkrands’ appearances for Newcastle United were not as an out-and-out striker but more as a support striker or a deeper lying attacker. This does explain why his physical performance stats and heading stats are weaker than those of the more physical, target man style of his fellow strikers. Playing in a bit more withdrawn role one would expect that he would be more involved in the build up play and chance creation of the team, but he only created a goal scoring opportunity every 122 minutes and only made a pass every four and a half minutes.

Lovenkrands also isn’t a real goalthreat as a goal every 243 minutes illustrates. Apart from Nile Ranger, he also has the poorest chance conversion rate only putting away 31% of his chances. On the positive side he was involved in 16% of the team’s goals. He also has the second lowest minutes per clear cut chance record which suggests his positioning and movement in the final third is strength of his. With his left foot he scored 5 goals, hit the woodwork 3 times and was on target 64% of the time. Had Peter Lovenkrands scored with those 3 near misses his stats could’ve looked a lot better.  But as it is he seems to well suit to be more of a versatile squad player than a starting striker.

Nile Ranger

Nile RangerThe most used substitute in the premier league 2010/2011 season, Nile Ranger didn’t score a single goal in his 562 minutes on the field. His stats paint a picture of a player that didn’t make the grade last season with his heading, finishing, aerial, physical, control and passing stats all being the worst or second worst of all the Newcastle United strikers. It isn’t surprising that the club is willing to listen to offers for the young striker.

Nile did create 11 chances, mostly late in matches, with one assist. Many feel the 20 year old has what it takes to become a top striker in the future, but unfortunately his stats in 2010/2011 doesn’t justify Alan Pardew giving him time on the pitch ahead of his other forwards. A loan spell might be the answer, but don’t be surprised to see him sold before September.

Shola Ameobi

Shola AmeobiHaving been at the club for 10 years already, the (almost) Nigerian international became Newcastle’s first choice striker following the departure of Andy Carroll at the end of January. Shola only had 13 clear cut chances in 1756 minutes of play, compared to Leon Best it is more than double the amount of minutes per clear cut chance. This indicates that Ameobi’s positioning and work rate within and around the box is a weakness.

His finishing of his chances is reasonable compared to his teammates, but with only 23% of his overall shots ending up on target and a full 293 minutes per goal – Shola tends to frustrate fans more than delight them. Even his heading stats make for painful reading with only 18% of them being on target for the big man. Shola Ameobi is a good penalty taker and always lifts his performance for matches against Sunderland with 6 goals and 3 assists in 6 matches against their fierce rivals.

With Shola having the worst stats (excluding Nile Ranger) for minutes per chance created, minutes per goal and shots per goal, he clearly isn’t the man to lead the line against anyone except Sunderland. If Newcastle play a 4-5-1 or sign a new striker Shola should find a place on the bench more often than not.

Leon Best

Leon BestLeon Best’s hat trick against West Ham United certainly does have a massive influence on his stats for the season. If we omit the 64 minute hat trick he scored, his minutes per goal goes from a very impressive 125 minutes to 230 minutes per goal which is still the best of all the strikers they had available last season. So keep that in mind when looking at his stats for last season.

Leon Best had the same amount of clear cut chances as Shola Ameobi and Peter Lovenkrands despite only playing nearly half the amount of time that they each played. His conversion rate was also the best of the available strikers. Best not only got himself into scoring positions more regularly than his teammates but also finished these opportunities better. His minutes per offside indicates the type of player he is and that he enjoys playing on the defenders’ shoulder and making runs into the box. That also explains why he didn’t create as many chances as he is a finisher and not a playmaker.

His physical and heading abilities are the best of the strikers, he won 50% and 52% of his possession – and aerial duels respectively. Along with 40% accuracy with his flick-ons, he had 15 attempts at goal with headers – that’s a headed attempt every 50 minutes compared to Ameobi’s 103 minutes per headed shot. Leon Best only had 35% of his shots on target, but if you look at his shots with his favoured left boot this stat goes up to 60% with 3 goals. The stats suggest that Leon Best really is mint. With a creative player playing along or behind him and quality delivery from set-pieces and the wide men Leon Best has the movement, shooting and heading abilities to score many goals.

Demba Ba

Demba BaFirst thing to remember when looking at Demba Ba’s stats is that he played for a weak, relegated West Ham United team. A team that created far less scoring opportunities than Newcastle did, he also seems to have been given license to shoot from anywhere since 20 of his total of 49 shots were from outside of the area.

The Senegalese internationals’ stats shows that he is more than just a target man, he created a chance every 85 minutes for West Ham United and before he joined them he had already amassed 4 assists in 1281 minutes for Hoffenheim along with his 6 goals for them. His goalscoring ability is the reason Alan Pardew brought the injury-prone striker in. With an impressive 133 minutes per goal and 19 minutes per shot in his first taste of English football, every Newcastle fan will hope that he can build on this and bring in the goals needed to push for a top 8 spot. His stats are really good with 50% of his headed shots on target, passing accuracy of 74%, combined with his pace and physical abilities he looks like a quality striker.

Demba Ba has struggled to find the net in pre-season and after being substituted at halftime against Arsenal, one wonders how high his confidence levels are. Alan Pardew has spoken of how he expects Demba Ba to score the goals for his team, and based on his stats he definitely is capable of finding the back of the net, fans will hope he starts sooner than later.


Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan scored 23 goals between them for Newcastle last season; these 5 strikers managed 25 goals between them in total. Alan Pardew will be hoping for 1 of these strikers to step up and score 15 goals or more for him this season. Ameobi and Lovenkrands are experienced campaigners and will add depth to a thin squad, but are unlikely to reach double figures unless they play 5under1and every week. Nile Ranger may well be sold or loaned out this season. According to the stats Demba Ba and Leon Best look the likeliest to be able to reach that goal if given the opportunity.

Alan Pardew is still looking to bring in another striker before the transfer window closes and has really struggled to find the right player with failed efforts of bringing in Gameiro, Gervinho and Erding. Numerous other names have been mentioned such as Nicklas Bendtner, Nolan Roux, Daniel Sturridge (I wish), Modibo Maiga, Toivonen, Macheda, Park etc. If there are any strikers you would like me to compare to the current crop please leave a comment below.

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About the Author: Roland du Toit

I am a 26 year old financial analyst from Durban, South Africa. I am a lifelong Newcastle United fan, maybe the biggest one in South Africa. With these articles I'll do some statistical analysis on a variety of Newcastle United related matters. As a passionate Newcastle fan I know we all have our own opinions and you are welcome to add comments and questions below. You can also follow me on twitter, but I definately do not claim to be "in the know".

7 Comments + Add Comment

  • If you are going to get into stats you really should make the effort to understand the concept of “percent”.

    For example; If Lovenkrands exected 323 passes and completed 0.72% of them that actually works out at 2 passes. Not 232.

    According to your stats his success rate was actually 72%

    You are actually out by a factor of 100!

    Kinda wipes out the whole article

  • I do hope the guy we get in is not another AC type as this kind of player makes us by definition, a very one dimensional team.
    Perhaps someone of the like of Gary Linaker / Sniffer Clark, who were always on the end of something and didn’t have to go chasing the ball all the time.
    Either that or a Messi type who is always buzzing around the edge of the box and you just know where the goals will come from. Not much to ask really. simples!! HWTL

  • Sir,
    Out of interest, how do the statistics of Shane Long compare with our strikers from their championship season? It’s fairly academic since he is now with the Baggies, but it would be nice to know whether I was being a complete Rs in suggesting we buy him.

  • Archie, you are spot on about that one. Will ask them to change it straight away.

  • Archie, it was a problem with the website software dislaying the percentages as numbers E.G. 72% was showing up as 0.72 – this has been amended.

  • Shola is awful, I really can’t see how manager after manager keep selecting him. Best and Ba should be our starters v the dirty Mackems.

  • Pardew started with ameobi and kept him on and subbed Ba off against arsenal, so clearly managers dont look much into stats otherwise ameobi would not be starting.

    With Ben arfa out we are in trouble i think for goals and if one of our strikers doesant hit top form or we dont buy a striker that can score them then we wont have a chance of top 10. But our defense looks better, a specialized left back would make it even better and for this reason i think we wont get relegated because we wont concede as many as last season.

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