Newcastle United staff and fans appreciate Miguel Almiron’s effort, but the team needs Elliot Anderson’s confidence in the final third.
Newcastle United experienced yet another early exit from the FA Cup after losing 2-0 to Arsenal in the third round on Saturday, but that game also gave fans a preview of what Elliot Anderson is made of. The 18-year-old midfielder came on in the 80th minute, but got 40 minutes of action under his belt due to the game going to extra time.
During those 40 minutes Anderson did not have any major moments that could have altered the outcome, but he did several fundamental things correctly. The most notable attribute the coaching staff and fans noticed was his composure on the ball.
Far too many times this season players have displayed poor decision-making, rushed passes, excessive dribbling, or heavy touches that ruin meaningful build-ups. Miguel Almiron is one of those players who has repeatedly made those mistakes this season, but Anderson displayed a confidence that is rarely seen in the Magpies’ midfield.
As soon as the youngster came on he was calling for the ball, maneuvering his way around defenders, was quick to find open targets, and remained calm when in tight areas on the wing surrounded by multiple players.
Several first team players praised the academy product for his performance, and Allan Saint-Maximin was especially thrilled to see Anderson get some game time.
Almiron has plenty of pace and runs all over the pitch for the Toon, but the expectation has been for him to serve as a playmaker, and he has fallen way short of the mark in this regard. Some fans argue that Almiron would excel in a top six side that constantly attacks, but I have to disagree.
Moving from the MLS to the Premier League has been a night and day experience for the Paraguayan. He simply is not good enough, and that argument can be backed by his poor statistics, weak shots, poor shot selection, and inconsistent passing.
His experience with Newcastle United will earn Almiron some more game time for now, but the more chances Anderson gets, the more concerned Almiron should become.
The young, attack-minded midfielder is winning over the staff, teammates, and the fans, so it is only a matter of time until he gets his “Longstaff moment” at Newcastle United.
As a final note, look for Anderson to start seeing more minutes over the next few weeks. His versatility allows him to play in multiple positions across the midfield line, so Joelinton is another player who could see his playing time reduced as a result… fingers crossed.