Admirable honesty from Christian Atsu but is he good enough?
In the absence of Matt Ritchie and Allan Saint-Maximin, Christian Atsu looks set for a run in the Premier League.
With those two and others injured, there are very few other options.
This is now the winger’s fourth season at St James Park and he says it is going to be an ‘important’ one for him.
He turns 28 in January and before coming to Newcastle he hadn’t had much of a club career, one of countless players to join and never/hardly play for Chelsea, instead being repeatedly loaned out before being sold at a profit.
In the two seasons before he arrived at Newcastle, Christian Atsu only managed four league starts out on loan at Malaga and Everton.
Speaking ahead of the game at Liverpool, Atsu is refreshingly honest: ‘I have had some good times and played some good games – but I still don’t really think people have been able to see the best of me, certainly not on a consistent basis.’
I think the question is, has he ever convinced anybody he is good enough to be a regular starter in the Premier League?
The past two seasons Atsu made 56 PL appearances and only managed three goals and two assists. Indeed last season, in 28 PL appearances it was only that goal in the 3-2 home defeat by Liverpool.
That was actually one of his best games for Newcastle, finishing the season strongly filling in for the injured Almiron, also impressing in the 4-0 win at Fulham.
Appearing as a sub for ASM, Christian Atsu did well at Spurs and laid on the winner. Another flash in the pan or sign of better to come.
Against Watford he was poor (like most of the team) apart from the odd moment and contributed little against Leicester when playing the second half.
Rarely does he ever influence a game throughout and at times he looks like he doesn’t really believe he can do it.
Obviously anything from the Liverpool game would be a big bonus but in the coming games both Atsu and Almiron need to start contributing more and improve on their really poor goals and assists stats. With the rest of the team, apart from Fabian Schar(!), looking unlikely to contribute too much going forward, it can’t all be left to Joelinton.
Christian Atsu speaking to The Northern Echo:
“I think this is going to be an important season for me.
“I have been here for four years now and I have had some good times and played some good games – but I still don’t really think people have been able to see the best of me, certainly not on a consistent basis.
“That is the challenge now, to make sure this season is different.
“I am very happy with the way the team is playing and the way we are trying to press teams, I think that will help with my game.
“The biggest thing for me this season is to be consistent.
“I have had some good performances with Newcastle but I need to start being more consistent and keeping my standards at the same level through the season.
“That is probably what has held me back in my time at Newcastle so far, I haven’t been consistent enough.
“I am working as hard as I can to try to improve that, I feel as though my fitness is getting better and hopefully that will help me when I am on the pitch.
“I am playing a bit further up the field under the new manager and I am happy about that, I think it suits the way I play.
“The manager has said he really wants me to press defenders and I think that suits me.
“I think it will help me create things because if the opposition lose the ball, I am already in front of it and that makes it easier to get forward and attack. Hopefully, that will mean I am assisting more.
“I feel like I’m getting better, I’ve been working hard to get back from my injury and feel like I’m getting stronger with every training session and game.
“I feel like the sharpness is starting to return.”
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