This is why it's 'difficult' for Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin at Newcastle United

Christian Atsu knows what Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin are going through – as he’s been in their boots himself.

Almiron and Saint-Maximin, supporting striker Joelinton, are yet to score for Newcastle United this season, and their respective contributions in the final third of the pitch have been in the spotlight in recent weeks.

Saint-Maximin caused problems in Monday night’s 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa, but he didn’t have a final ball.

“I’ve been in their position before,” said winger Atsu, who came off the bench at Villa Park. “When you’re defending, and have less ball possession, it’s very difficult for the wingers, because they have to defend a lot.

Allan Saint-Maximin.

“When they have the ball they don’t have the legs to go forward. I know how it is. They’ve done really well. They work really hard for the team.”

Villa scored both goals from first-half set-pieces, and head coach Steve Bruce was unhappy at his side’s “passive” performance before the break.

“In the first half, it was difficult for us,” said Atsu. “The intensity from us was very low. They had time on the ball and dominated the first half. At the end of the game they were the better team.

“We can’t give any excuses, (but) we can’t forget that we lost our captain (Jamaal Lascelles). He’s a very important player. We need to keep our heads up.”

Christian Atsu.

Bruce will take an “aggressive” approach to United’s forthcoming games, starting with Saturday’s home fixture against Premier League champions Manchester City.

“The manager’s always pushing us to win each and every game,” said Atsu. “He’s very aggressive (in his style of football), and you can see he wants to win every game. We’re very happy that we have him. We want to work hard. We will stick to the plans.

“He’s not a manager who would like to sit back, he wants to win every game.”

On Manchester City, Atsu added: “It’s a difficult game, but we have to raise our intensity, they way we press.

“We gave them (Villa) time, but we cannot give Man City time because of the quality they have in the team.”