Steve Bruce won his first game as Newcastle United manager with a shock 1-0 victory against Tottenham at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday afternoon, courtesy of a first-half goal by £40million striker Joelinton.
An early injury to Allan Saint-Maximin led to Christian Atsu coming off the bench and having a huge impact as he supplied the assist for Newcastle’s new number nine to get his first goal for the club.
It was a momentous win for the Magpies and here, Nothing But Newcastle has analysed three things learned about the Tyneside club in their successful trip to the capital on bank holiday weekend:
Atsu can hold the key for Newcastle
After watching Atsu’s display against Tottenham, Bruce has to give serious thought to handing the Ghana international a spot in his starting line-up over the coming weeks. Saint-Maximin’s injury might mean that he is set for a spell on the sidelines so Atsu should be the man to step in and provide a spark to the Magpies attack. According to stats by WhoScored, Atsu completed three key passes after he came off the bench in the first half and no other player on the whole pitch was able to make more. He also completed two dribbles as he drove the Newcastle attack forward on counter attacks to create chances. Atsu deserves a shot after that display.
Almiron needs to step up
Joelinton got himself off the mark for Newcastle on Sunday, but Almiron’s wait to score a goal – or even an assist – will continue after a rather mixed performance at Tottenham. While the Paraguay international did a lot of running and did a great job at putting the Tottenham defence under pressure, he failed to make a single pass or complete a single successful dribble throughout the entire 90 minutes [WhoScored]. Atsu went into that game having not played in a while due to injury, yet the ex-Chelsea winger looked far more creative than Almiron. It is hard to pick out a negative in that game, but the fact that Almiron got outshone by Atsu says a lot. The 25-year-old Paraguayan really needs to up his game and at least get involved in a goal for the first time in English football.
Bruce got it spot on
A lot has been said about Bruce over the past week and you cannot blame fans for being critical of the Newcastle manager after the 3-1 defeat at newly-promoted Norwich. It was a shambles – and that’s putting it nicely. However Bruce has clearly been working overtime on getting this squad of players to improve in the last week and it has clearly worked. Everyone seemed up for it, the defence was brilliantly organised, the change of formation worked and it was just an overall very impressive job that Bruce deserves massive credit for.