Steve Bruce's THREE key Newcastle United decisions ahead of Arsenal visit
Goalscoring hero Joe Willock drops out of Steve Bruce’s thinking this weekend with parent club Arsenal in town – but that doesn’t mean the head coach hasn’t got a Newcastle United selection conundrum or two to consider.
A draw at Anfield that felt like a late win was just reward for the Magpies’ efforts against Premier League champions Liverpool last weekend – and things don’t get all that much easier this time around with Mikel Arteta & Co at St James’ Park.
Another win for United would surely secure Premier League safety, but will the boss make any changes? Here’s a look at three issues in Bruce’s ‘in tray’ this week.
A midfield switch-up
As mentioned, Willock is an obvious man to get recalled – that one, however, will have to wait to the trip to Leicester City a week on Friday.
But it’s hard to argue things are all rosy in this department, even without the option of Willock to come in.
Sean Longstaff has been solid but Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron have been poor in the last few weeks.
Will Bruce stick or twist in the middle, especially after such a good run of results? It is hard to argue against the former, but he does have the option to shuffle the pack, especially with Paraguayan Almiron struggling in a much deeper role.
Defensive headaches eased?
As decent as United have been in recent weeks, one thing that’s fallen apart is their defensive organisation.
To be honest, they weren’t the most organised any way but in recent times they’ve looked at sixes and sevens as a unit.
The switch to three at the back, whilst suiting in others areas – particularly the full-backs and up top – has caused more issues than it has solved in the defensive third.
Paul Dummett, Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez all look absolutely out of form and out of sorts.
Luckily, though, Fabian Schar is back – and seems keen to play with a summer of internationals on the agenda.
It might be too soon this weekend, but the Swiss could help ease some headaches for Bruce in the final few weeks of the season.
When is the right time to recall Callum Wilson?
This is the question on everyone’s lips. A few weeks back it felt like the frontman was United’s one and only saviour – but he’s not really been needed as much as many anticipated due to the otherworldly form of Allan Saint-Maximin.
Another factor has been that Joelinton has probably played his best football in black and white in the last month or so, even if he was coming from a very low base.
At Anfield the game was crying out for Wilson, a striker with an extra yard or two of pace compared to the Brazilian – and it was no surprise United got a lot more joy in front of goal when the England international was introduced and began to really warm to the challenge.
Will Bruce again resist the temptation? Surely not this time. Wilson looks fit, ready and raring to score goals.