When the team news comes out an hour before kick-off at St James’ Park on Saturday, perhaps both sets of supporters should pay more attention to who isn’t starting the game against Newcastle United than the 22 players who take to the field.
That’s because the impact of our substitutes this term is unmatched in the Premier League so far this term, as Mikel Arteta’s switches have transformed many games.
Whether it’s Gabriel Martinelli bagging the winner to beat Manchester City, or Leandro Trossard sneaking in at the back post to level against Chelsea, it’s no wonder the boss refers to his subs as “finishers”, tasked with making an impact in the latter stages of games to ensure they tip the result in our favour.
This hasn't just been the case in the league - Trossard would net the last-gasp equaliser to send the Community Shield to penalties, with fellow introduction Fabio Vieira converting the all-important spot kick, but our unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign owes much to the men arriving late on the scene.
As well as their influence in helping us shore up the backline to see out a result, or play a crucial role in a move that ends with us netting late one, seven times players have come off the bench to score for us in league games this season:
|Gabriel Jesus||Manchester United||90+11|
|Gabriel Martinelli||Manchester City||86|
|Fabio Vieira||Sheffield United||88|
|Takehiro Tomiyasu||Sheffield United||90+6|
No other side in the top-flight have had more goals netted by substitutes this season, with Brighton & Hove Albion sharing that honour with us:
|Brighton & Hove Albion||7|
Those strikes have led us to earn six extra points, and no team in the Premier League have picked up more than that tally from their bench so far:
|Team||Points earned by sub goals|
Added to that, five players have also registered an assist after being introduced to the fray by Arteta having not started the contest:
|Fabio Vieira||Manchester United||90+11|
|Kai Havertz||Manchester City||86|
And interestingly heading into this weekend’s encounter on Tyneside, Newcastle are the only club above us in that particular statistic, meaning Saturday's meeting could well be decided late on by someone with a point to prove on the bench, desperate to make an impression.