Match Preview: Newcastle Jets vs Melbourne City
City’s A-League side will be looking to turn their recent form around when they take on Newcastle Jets in their away clash this Sunday evening.
City head into the Jets matchup coming off the back of consecutive losses for the first time since December 2019, with our recent disappointing results coming against Perth and Central Coast.
The side will be without young central defender Kerrin Stokes who was sent off against the Mariners, but will be bolstered by the potential inclusion of Portuguese signing Nuno Reis.
Here are the major talking points ahead of what looms as a significant fixture early in our campaign:
No Griffiths, no Stokes, no chance?
Things are looking grim in the heart of defence.
Nuno Reis has been included in this week’s squad, but Patrick Kisnorbo’s choices currently appear to be as follows:
a) Play an un-integrated, potentially unfit Reis who is only a handful of days and an even smaller handful of training sessions out of quarantine, OR:
b) Play 20-year-old Alec Mills, who has about 30 minutes of A-League experience, ORRRRR:
c) Pull a wildcard and play a full-back or the likes of Metcalfe or Gomulka at centre-back and give City fans 90+ minutes of heart palpitations.
We’ve not got a very good feeling about this…
Najjarine will be a massive loss for the Jets
With the stocks of City loanee Ramy Najjarine having skyrocketed during his time with the Jets so far, the next best thing to have come out of the agreement must surely be his ineligibility to play against his parent club in league competition.
The loss of Najjarine is huge for the Jets, with the youngster having featured in several Team of the Week squads on the back of his 14 chances created, the third-best in the competition. With a team-high two assists to his name, Najjarine also leads his side for attempted crosses and dribbles, as well as for fouls won.
Arguably Newcastle’s best player so far this season, City can count themselves lucky not to be facing the Jet’s primary creator.
Stat Attack: Jets massively underperforming statistical expectation
In a season where many were writing Newcastle off as wooden-spooners before the first kick of a ball in 2020/21, the Jets have managed to put together some impressive performances so far.
The Jets’ 12th-place position on the table belies their in-game performances, with stats analyst Nick Gerver (@Aleague_Apart) finding in an article on the 1st of February that Newcastle lead the competition in both Expected Goals per 90 minutes (2.01) and Expected Goals per Shot (0.143). For those unfamiliar with the xG per 90 metric, this essentially states that Newcastle would be expected to have scored 12 goals from their six games (actually scored six), and that they would be expected to score a goal with approximately every 7th shot.
As of February 6th, they also lead the competition in total shots, so it’s not just in the mythical land of xG that the Jets are showing some ominous form.
Having defeated Wellington and drawn to the Wanderers in their two most recent games, the Jets are a team to be approached with a great deal of caution.