In April this year, Ayoze Perez (against Arsenal) scored Newcastle United's fiftieth Premier League goal under Rafa Benitez; a milestone which has only been surpassed by seven others (Ruud Gullit, Graeme Sounness, Glenn Roeder, Kenny Dalglish, Alan Pardew, Keven Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson). Benitez has since overtaken Ruud Gullit's tally of fifty-four following Perez's second goal of the game against Chelsea.
Now that we have come to the end of the season, it is now a good time to look back from March 2016 through to the present day at a selection of some of Rafa Benitez's fifty-five Premier League goals for the Toon and I will be providing some stats along the way. The statistics in this article will probably bring you to the fascinating conclusion that I really need to get out more!
Newcastle United 1 (Aleksandar Mitrovic 83) Sunderland 1 - 20/03/16
Aleksandar Mitrovic's late equaliser in the last Tyne and Wear derby got Rafa underway in his first home game since being confirmed as manager nine days beforehand. Despite getting his first goal as manager in mid-March, he would have to wait four weeks before his first win as Newcastle manager. This Mitrovic goal became the first of four goals that Mitrovic scored before the season sadly ended in relegation (but we all know how the story ends - Going up, going down and all that).
Most important goal
Newcastle United 2 (Matt Ritchie 68) Arsenal 1 - 15/04/18
This category is based on opinion instead of fact. The winner of this category for me was a toss-up between this goal and the winning goal against Man United, also scored by Ritchie. The deciding factors for me choosing the second goal in the win against Arsenal in April was because that winning goal gave us the safety (barring a miracle in the closing stages of the season) we had been striving for following our involvement in the battle against relegation before we hit a run of excellent form from the turn of the calendar year. That win against Arsenal also gave us the most consecutive wins we have had in the Premier League since November 2014.
Newcastle United 1 (Kenedy 2) Southampton 0 - 10/03/18
Again, this category is based on opinion rather than fact. Kenedy's first goal against Southampton was tightly contested with Ayoze Perez's delightful long range lob against Leicester away. In a game that was a must win, arguably so for both sides, Kenedy got us off to the perfect start early on as the Toon went on to crucially win 3-0. He got on the receiving end of a Jonjo Shelvey long ball into the penalty area, as Kenedy leaped for the ball he chested/shouldered the ball into the air and struck a delicate volley after swivelling his whole body around to make the shot possible. His second goal in that game was also a fantastic goal as Perez superbly led the counter attacking move from a Southampton corner.
Most goals in a match
Newcastle United 5 (Georginio Wijnaldum 19, pen 73, Aleksandar Mitrovic 39, Rolando Aarons 85, Daryl Janmaat 86) Tottenham 1 - 15/05/16
An already relegated Newcastle were cheered on incredibly as the fans urged Rafa Benitez to remain on Tyneside following his ten-game contract was going to expire at the end of that season. In terms of goals, we have not scored more goals in a Premier League game since October 2015 when we were managed by Steve McClaren (yes, we did indeed score six goals in a match under McClaren) as we thrashed Norwich 6-2.
Southampton (Andros Townsend, Isaac Hayden, Ayoze Perez, Kenedy x2, Matt Ritchie) and West Ham United (Joselu, Ciaran Clark, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Henri Saivet, Mohamed Diame, Christian Atsu) - 6 goals.
The Southampton fixture at home in March was special in how it was a must win game and set us off on the run of four consecutive wins to see us through to safety and a top half finish. Not forgetting, of course, doing the double over West Ham this season. The first win of the season in August with an excellently convincing performance was special as the team responded as such following three consecutive defeats. Shortly before Christmas, the narrow win to end the morale destroying run we were experiencing seemed to give the team some newly found confidence as we went into the new calendar year lookijg like a different team for the better.
Ayoze Perez (Southampton, Stoke, Huddersfield, Leicester , Arsenal, Watford, Chelsea x2) - 8 goals.
Perez, along with the rest of the squad, really showed what he is capable of. The confidence boosting goalscoring run from the Spaniard was of excellent quality as he is now the highest goalscorer at Newcastle who still plays for the club. My favourite out of his eight Premier League goals under Rafa Benitez has got to be his wonderful lobbed finish against Leicester. If the club manages to sign a striker who scores twenty goals per season in this transfer window, it will be a recipe for a successful team to have that striker partnered up with Perez who will chip in with about ten goals per season. Relying on a ten goals per season striker to be the main source of goals can be problematic in the long run.
Right foot: 26
Left foot: 17
Inside the box: 48
Outside the box: 7
Open play: 39
Set piece situation: 12
Free kick (directly): 2
At St. James' Park: 32
- Leazes End: 18
- Gallowgate End: 14
Away from home: 23
Own goals: 1