Newcastle United were eliminated from the FA Cup and some of Steve Bruce’s shocking decisions are to blame for yesterday’s defeat.
Newcastle United maintained their unfortunate reputation for early exits from the FA Cup after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in a game that went to extra time. The Magpies put up a decent fight to stay in the game, but wasted golden opportunities and careless defending late in the game sealed their cup fate.
The most notable issue for the Toon in yesterday’s game was a lack of creativity, and that is because all the wrong players were selected from the start. Everyone has their opinion of what went wrong, and these are three things that made my list.
1. Starting Andy Carroll, but no true wingers
This observation was actually made by several fans on social media, which shows how Bruce complicates easy, obvious decisions. Carroll is not a dynamic threat in the final third who can create his own chances. Carroll is a target man who relies on quality crosses into the box to threaten opposing keepers.
Knowing that, what did Bruce do? He went with Miguel Almiron and Joelinton in the wide areas. At times, Jeff Hendrick also made his way on the wing. None of them are known for crossing the ball, which is why the first half was so unproductive offensively. Jacob Murphy changed all that when he came on in the second half, but he should have started yesterday’s clash to give the Magpies more of a spark early on.
2. Pairing Joelinton with Andy Carroll
Joelinton was given the freedom to play up the middle and out wide against Arsenal, but he is the worst player to pair with Carroll. Firstly, Joelinton is the only attacking player in the league who has no sense of positioning. Secondly, his decision-making in the final third is best described as shocking.
With Callum Wilson pulled out of the squad as a “precaution” ahead of Tuesday’s must-win game against Sheffield United, Dwight Gayle was the best option to play with Carroll. The big man would knock balls down and he would know that Gayle would be in the right place to get a shot off.
3. Starting Andy Carroll over Dwight Gayle
Newcastle United could have won yesterday’s game 2-0 had Carroll buried his two chances from close range. Both misses were actually quite embarrassing, especially for a player who is a veteran. Gayle would have put those opportunities away.
Some of you might be rolling your eyes saying, “how can you just assume that?” Well, the majority of Gayle’s goals in the Premier League have been from those type of angles, and he also scored his fair share of goals off of rebounded saves.
Regardless of those two opportunities, Gayle was the best available striker to start in place of Wilson. Bruce contradicted himself when he mentioned how much he values the FA Cup. If that was true he would have started the second-best striker in the squad against a team that was not at full strength.