Jacob Murphy's New Role: Is He Newcastle United's Best RWB Option?
Jacob Murphy scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers - Photo Credit: (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Steve Bruce surprised a lot of Newcastle United fans with his selection of Jacob Murphy at right wing-back for his side's trip to Molineux.

His bold selection was rewarded with Murphy scoring a late free-kick to cancel out Raul Jimenez' opening goal to earn his side a point.

The 25-year old has kept his place in the side for the following Premier League games against Everton and Southampton, giving him a rare run in the Magpies' side.

When Bruce named his starting 11 for the game against Wolves, many fans were left scratching their head as to what the formation was and who was going to fill the void left by not selecting a recognised right back.

Have United suffered without a more defensive minded option or has Murphy held his own in a deeper roll?

  • Defensive worries?

Statistically, Murphy doesn't look out of place when comparing him to the other options Bruce has at his disposal.

Javier Manquillo has played the most minutes (306) in the right back position this season and as such is the best point of reference when considering how Murphy has fared.

Despite completing 31 less minutes on the pitch, Murphy has completed the same amount of tackles (six) as the Spaniard  and five blocks compared to Manquillo's three.

An area that it is clear that Murphy has struggled in is opposition attackers running at him.

Murphy has been ran at 12 times with the Englishman successfully with his opponent getting the better off him on six occasions.

On the other hand, Manquillo has a higher success rate against dribbles, winning the ball back twice from three occasions.

The interesting point to note is that attackers seem to be more willing to try and take on Murphy as they look to exploit potential weakness.

  • Offers an outlet

Murphy has played the vast majority of his career as a winger and as such posses more attacking knowhow than Manquillo or Emil Krafth and the stats tell the same story.

Last season whilst on loan with Sheffield Wednesday, he scored nine goals and set up six in 39 Championship matches. 

One of Murphy's best attributes is his direct play and this is shown by him attempting 13 dribbles this season in comparison to Manquillo's three. Nine of the 13 were successful attempts.

This is important as it can help the Magpies move up the pitch quicker and if successful can relieve some pressure from the rest of the team.

Shots and crosses are two areas that he has proven to be more fruitful than his colleagues.

Furthermore, the 25-year old has shown his abilities from set pieces can be a huge asset to his side.

  • Does he keep his place going forward?

Solid displays against Wolves and Everton have put Murphy on a good footing to keep his place in the team.

However, the woeful team performance at St Marys could mean Bruce looks to change the system up again.

A big worry from the current 3-5-2-like formation is the recent performances of Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Frenchman has proven to be the Magpies' most important asset with some top performances since his transfer from OGC Nice but has looked a bit lost in a more advanced central role.

If Bruce does try to shift things up to get the tricky winger back flying then it could see the end of Jacob Murphy's run in the side.

His performances in an unfamiliar role will have done no damage to Murphy's hopes of a bigger role in the Magpies' squad.

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