Steve Bruce’s gamble fails as Leeds look ahead to Newcastle game
21 Jan 2021 08:50 am, by YorkshireSquare
Anyone who watched Steve Bruce’s Newcastle at Bramall Lane the other week would probably have thought they were the worst team in the Premier League. Which is impressive given they were playing Sheffield United, a team who had not won a game all season until that point. With the attacking threats of Jonjo Shelvey, Allan Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Dwight Gayle, Miguel Almirón and Callum Wilson at his disposal everyone questions why Bruce sets his Newcastle team up so negatively and rightly so! The Magpies have conceded 30 goals this season, scoring just 18 leaving them in 15th position, perilously close to the relegation area.
But on Monday evening Steve Bruce took a gamble, he went all in and started an attacking team against a revived Arsenal side. Placing his online casino $20 min deposit bet, he surprised many with his adventurous roll of the dice. Back to the traditional 4-4-2 a front line of Wilson and Carroll were supported by Shelvey pulling the strings out wide and Joelinton and Almirón providing the pace and creativity out wide. They were in the game come half time, without creating any real clear cut chances but in the second half the gamble wasn’t to pay off.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started and ended the misery for Newcastle, the first catching Newcastle out on the counterattack. Bukayo Saka provided slotted the second home after Leeds United cult hero Emile Smith Rowe’s run down the left wing before an unmarked Aubameyang completed the three-nil punishment for Arsenal, this time Saka the provider. Newcastle were abject at defending when they tried to shut up shop against Sheffield United and toothless when they went all in against Arsenal. Surely these are positive signs as Leeds eye up Newcastle ahead of their next game.
Leeds have already seen Newcastle’s vulnerabilities first-hand of course, putting five past Steve Bruce’s men back in December. The speed and directness of Bielsabal caught Newcastle cold, Raphinha, Harrison and Hernandez all finding joy on the break to set up goals for Bamford, Dallas and Alioski. It wasn’t just Newcastle’s defending on the counter that was an issue either. Just as Aubameyang and Saka found themselves free in The Magpie’s area last week, Rodrigo, Bamford and Dallas too were unmarked back in December.
It seems Newcastle have not learned their lesson and however Bruce lines up his side against Leeds United next week they will be vulnerable at the back and toothless up front. It will be a great opportunity for Leeds to get back on track following Premier League losses to Spurs and Brighton, not forgetting the FA Cup embarrassment against reality TV Crawley either. With Cooper back and Llorente getting some minutes for the Under 23’s we might be able to line-up with two centre backs in the side for a change!
Now halfway through the season with the table starting to sort itself out, it’s clear to see which teams will be involved in a relegation battle and on current showing Newcastle United are one of them. Victory for Leeds next week would leave them in a great position, probably needing in the region of nine more points to secure survival for next season. Loss for Newcastle and they will be looking over their shoulders at the likes of Fulham, Brighton and Burnley who have all shown more fight than Bruce’s side in recent weeks.
Will Bruce gamble again against Leeds or will he revert to sitting back? Neither system has served him well and both present great opportunities to Leeds United to take advantage of Newcastle’s defensive frailties with Marcelo Bielsa’s swashbuckling attacking style. If we can put the past few results behind us after a good break it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think we could put another five past them!