What did Clarke say?
Writing in his preview on the league’s official website, the former Arsenal midfielder backed the Frenchman.
“Fourth-placed West Ham have conceded seven goals in their last three matches and will not relish facing such a quick attack.
“Saint-Maximin’s speed and dribbling ability can make defences back off. We saw this at Burnley when he created Jacob Murphy’s goal before the Frenchman scored from a brilliant 50-yard solo run down the middle.”
Is he right to back him?
Though Newcastle fans will be fully aware of the 24-year-old’s quality, his last outing against Burnley was something to marvel at. Indeed, despite only featuring in 33 minutes, Saint-Maximin provided an assist for Jacob Murphy before scoring an absolute wonder goal to earn his side a crucial three points. According to FBREF data, the former Nice star has averaged the highest number of goal-creating actions per 90 minutes for the club this season (0.71) despite missing large portions of the campaign.
Has he ripped West Ham apart before?
Indeed he has.
Back in November 2019, sections of the support praised him for his performance when giving former West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta – a Premier League winner – all manner of problems in a dramatic 3-2 win at the London Stadium. BBC Sport described him as a ‘particular nuisance’ for the veteran Argentine that afternoon, highlighting his ‘speed and trickery’.
What’s his fitness like?
Speaking ahead of the game tomorrow, Bruce did reveal that Saint-Maximin, along with Callum Wilson, had come through the week’s training program ‘unscathed’ after long periods out, so it’ll be interesting to see whether or not he’s ready for a full 90 minutes.