WyAyeScout: How Fabian Schär became integral to Howe's Magpies
Written by Kev Lawson
In the latest feature in a new series for nufc.co.uk, WyAyeScout founder and editor Kev Lawson gives us a statistical breakdown of Fabian Schär's form this season as part of Newcastle United’s superb backline...
With half of their games now played in 2022/23, Newcastle United have conceded just 11 goals in total - the fewest in the Premier League. This is a stark contrast to 2021, when the Magpies conceded a record 80 goals in the calendar year.
Having featured in both defences, Switzerland international Schär is a good embodiment of this remarkable turnaround. Let's take a look at the data behind the improvements in his game this season…
While both men are very comfortable on the ball, Schär's passing ability is something that helps frame our analysis of his play in the centre of Newcastle United's defence.
In order to understand Schär's statistical output, we need to take more time to understand his role in the Newcastle team.
With Schär stepping slightly higher up the pitch on the ball, the Swiss international defender will often look for long progressive passes - particularly switches of play to the Magpies' left wing.
The ambitious nature of Schär's passing has both a negative and positive effect on his statistics. It reduces the rate he completes passes but increases the number of passes that help Eddie Howe's men build attacks.
This has helped increase the rate of Schär's line-breaking passes - he is now among the leaders in his position and across all players in the league.
When defending, Schär and Botman also take on slightly different roles. Schär is active higher up the pitch, looking to cut out stray or poor passes, while Botman covers any spaces left behind.
One area that Schär has improved significantly this season is his aerial duel win percentage - the rate he wins headers versus opponents. It's a stat he leads United's squad in.
While good in the air, the reasons behind this improvement are another example of why stats should always be used in context with a clear understanding of how the team plays.
It’s a great example of how the addition of talented new players can bring out the best performances from existing members of the Newcastle United squad...
...and yet more evidence of how the coaching from Howe and his staff have helped a player improve their performances.
Among all of the lazy narratives about transfer spend since the takeover, it's a self-described "bargain" in the form of his career that really epitomises the transformation we've seen in Newcastle United's defence this season.