Joelinton could dramatically improve at Newcastle if Bruce makes one change – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

Joelinton’s goal drought continued against Aston Villa but his all-round underperformance suggests he isn’t suited to playing as a loan striker in this Newcastle team.

On the chalkboard

Aside from the opening couple of games of the season, Steve Bruce has played the Brazilian up-front on his own, and too often he has been left isolated and unable to influence the game despite his best efforts.

That theme reared its ugly head once again at Villa Park, mostly in the first half, where a combination of Joelinton’s poor quality and a lack of support meant the Magpies offered very little in the way of an attacking threat.

The 23-year-old failed to get into the game, making just 11 passes in his 72 minutes on the pitch, and though he possessed an aerial threat as usual – with seven aerial duels won – there was nobody around him to make any use of it.

A lack of support was most glaring when he was unleashed on the counter-attack on the halfway line, and to his credit he managed to create an opening in the Villa penalty box, only to see his closest teammate was miles away from him.

Changes needed

Joelinton’s frustrating performances are leading to growing impatience amongst the fanbase, as the few opportunities that did arise saw him shoot off target, and he made so few passes partly due to the fact he achieved 61% pass accuracy – which indicates a lack of quality.

He did show some glimpses of what he can provide, however, and with better support he may be able to have a more positive influence on proceedings in future.

Compared to his teammates, he has created the most chances per 90 minutes from open play in the Newcastle team, with 14, and he displayed that knack once again on Monday with two key passes.

If he had a striker to play off he could show more of what he has to offer, whether it is Andy Carroll or Dwight Gayle partnering him.

He has the physicality and aerial edge, as evidenced above, to win knock-downs for Gayle, and against Villa he also displayed a pace and power when taking on Tyrone Mings, which means he could run onto chances Carroll provides.

That means Bruce has to consider playing someone in support of the former Hoffenheim man. Newcastle were far too unambitious against Villa in the first half, enjoying just 23% possession the first 12 minutes, and if that continues then so will the disappointing results.

With Miguel Almiron continuing to stutter in front of goal there is a case that he should be dropped too, and replaced with a more natural goalscorer like Gayle, who struck 24 times in the last campaign.

Read here to find out how Newcastle fans are feeling about Joelinton after he drew a blank once more against Villa.

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