Before the 0-0 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Monday, Newcastle were on an appalling run of three consecutive defeats, with the Magpies conceding ten goals, scoring just twice. Steve Bruce has been without a number of key defenders, including Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar, Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark. But one centre back he has come to rely upon most this term is Federico Fernandez, and the Argentine ace has made 28 Premier League starts for the Magpies, more than any other centre back.
The 31-year-old has been incredibly reliable this season, establishing himself at St James’ Park after his move from Swansea. With 167 Premier League appearances, few of the other defenders available to Bruce have as much experience in England as the Argentine centre back.
After the goalless draw with the Seagulls, Newcastle’s first clean sheet since June, the defender spoke of his desire to put on a performance against Champions Liverpool for the final match of the season.
What did he say?
Speaking to NUFC TV, Fernandez said: “I’m happy to play games and fight for this team. There’s one game to go, and we try to put a performance on against the champions.
“The only way we will enjoy it as a defence is if we put in a defensive performance like we did on Monday. Stay narrow, stay strong, and you need to be sharp in the final third.”
The 31-year-old added: “It was really good to get a clean sheet, especially with the injuries we have and that part of the team.”
Stopping the rot
After three successive defeats, Newcastle finally picked up a point in the Premier League against Brighton on Monday, even so, the Magpies are without a win in the last five top-flight matches. There was a noticeable decline in results after Premier League survival was assured with six games remaining, though that could also be as a result of the mounting injury list.
Despite the poor performances Fernandez has been one of the most reliable players at St James’ Park this term with an average match rating of 6.74 and was forming a blossoming partnership alongside Lascelles before the Englishman needed ankle surgery.
It is not just in defence where Fernandez has been contributing, as he has had a hand in two goals and two assists for the Magpies this season. He will be hoping to exert an influence at both ends of the field again on Sunday so Newcastle can end the season on a high against Liverpool.