Why Georginio Wijnaldum is keeping the faith at Newcastle

Georginio Wijnaldum
Georginio Wijnaldum

Georginio Wijnaldum is keeping the faith at Newcastle United.

Steve McClaren’s relegation-threatened side suffered a third successive 1-0 defeat at the weekend.

We have to (believe) – if we don’t, we will get relegated. There are 18 games to go and we must keep the faith that we will survive.

Georginio Wijnaldum

A goal from Laurent Koscielny gave Arsenal all three points – and left Newcastle deeper in trouble.

McClaren played summer signing Wijnaldum in his favoured No 10 role at the Emirates Stadium.

But the midfielder couldn’t take the three chances that came his way, while striker Aleksandar Mitrovic also missed an opportunity to give United the lead before Koscielny struck in the 72nd minute.

Wijnaldum, however, won’t dwell on the result.

And the 25-year-old is already focused on the club’s remaining 18 Premier League games.

“We must put that behind us and look forward,” said the Holland international.

“We have to (believe) – if we don’t, we will get relegated.

“There are 18 games to go and we must keep the faith that we will survive.

“If you lose faith, it will be over.”

Newcastle return to Premier League action on January 12 when Manchester United visit St James’s Park.

Next up are Watford at Vicarage Road in the FA Cup.

McClaren tinkered with his formation at the Emirates Stadium – Ayoze Perez was fielded on the left side of a 4-2-3-1 formation – and the system caused Arsenal problems.

The front quartet of Wijnaldum, Perez, Mitrovic and Moussa Sissoko can all be “rotated”, according to McClaren.

“Perez, Wijnaldum, Sissoko and Mitrovic can be a handful,” said McClaren.

“They have been a handful, and can rotate and move about in positions depending on the opponent.

“We decided that would be the best way to go.

“I think it was very effective apart from putting the chances in the net.”

Arsenal had tow early attacks down Newcastle’s left side.

And McClaren quickly instructed Perez to sit deeper to stop Hector Bellerin.

“Everything’s about starting positions and organisation,” said McClaren.

“His starting position was too high, which allowed Bellerin to run forward.

“Once he dropped back and had Bellerin in front of him, we controlled the game after that.”

Meanwhile, McClaren had hoped that Rolando Aarons, Jamaal Lascelles, Yoan Gouffra, Ivan Toney and Kevin Mbabu would get some minutes under their belts in an Under-21 Premier League Cup tie away to Everton on Monday night.

However, the fixture, due to be played at Southport’s Haig Avenue, was postponed for a second time.

Injuries have restricted winger Aarons to just four first-team appearances so far this season.

And it is unclear whether he is fit enough to be considered for the Watford game.