Newcastle United surprised fans and pundits alike with an impressive 3-1 win at Villa Park on Tuesday night. Even more unusual was a match-winning performance from centre-back Fabian Schar, who netted a brace.
Newcastle first goalscorer odds – our picks
This weekend, the Magpies welcome Luton Town, and will be dead set on getting their own back against Rob Edwards’ side after losing 1-0 at Kenilworth Road just before Christmas. The Hatters will be no pushovers though, having romped to a 4-0 win over Brighton on Tuesday, an early goal to get St James' Park rocking will be crucial, so here are our picks to open the scoring for the Magpies.
Callum Wilson – 10/3
Despite rumours swirling around Tyneside about a potential January departure for Callum Wilson to help balance the books, the 31-year-old has remained at St James’ Park. Eddie Howe will be relieved to have held onto Wilson, after Alexander Isak limped off against Aston Villa. The Swede will miss this match, but it is hoped Wilson will return after a four game injury absence of his own.
England international Wilson is all too familiar with injury struggles, and has only started seven games this season. But he has still netted seven goals, and his 0.87 goals per 90 minutes is only bettered by Erling Haaland in the Premier League.
Luton have been relatively prolific this season, but have also conceded plenty of chances. Only Sheffield United have a higher expected goals against figure this campaign. Wilson will likely get several good opportunities to score, and is favourite for a reason.
Anthony Gordon – 11/2
Second favourite to net the opener in this fixture is Anthony Gordon. The former Everton winger has shown why Newcastle shelled out £45m for him last January this season, with big goals against Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Gordon is an energetic and lively player, who thrives on the frenetic atmosphere that St James’ Park provides. This is borne out in the stats. Of Gordon’s seven league goals, only one has come away.
Gordon is an excellent finisher on the break, as he showed with his stunning strike against Manchester City. The biggest obstacle to Gordon scoring here may be Luton’s setup. The Hatters will be all too aware of the blistering pace at which Newcastle look to attack, and may look to sit deep to frustrate their hosts and deny them space.
Miguel Almiron – 17/2
Eternally smiley Paraguayan international Miguel Almiron, like many at Newcastle, has not had as productive a campaign as last season. The 29-year-old scored 11 Premier League goals last season, but only has three this campaign, over halfway through the season.
The issue has not been getting chances, Almiron’s expected goals per 90 has only dropped from 0.29 to 0.24. The issue has been his finishing. Last season, and particularly before the World Cup break, Almiron was dispatching every strike with confidence and accuracy, whereas this campaign he has underperformed.
However, poor finishing does not last forever. If Almiron keeps getting high quality chances, which he often does thanks to his blistering pace and relentless work-ethic, he will eventually get back on the goal trail. An opener here to get Newcastle’s pride back after being embarrassed in the reverse fixture would be the perfect way to do so.
Fabian Schar – 22/1
Since Switzerland international Fabian Schar joined Newcastle, only a handful of players have more goals for the Magpies in the Premier League than his 12 goals.
Schar is a big goal threat. But not only with his head as one would expect from a centre-back. He also has an excellent right foot, and has scored some stunners from distance in his time on Tyneside. He also possesses great box instincts for a defender.
This was well-illustrated in Newcastle’s midweek trip to Villa Park, when he pounced on loose balls on two occasions in the Villa box to put the Magpies 2-0 up.
It might be a tall order for Schar to repeat the trick, but few Premier League centre-backs are more likely to score than the Swiss.