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Crystal Palace v Newcastle – Selection not helped as Steve Bruce appears obligated to use these players

1 month ago
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As we build up to today’s Crystal Palace v Newcastle match, the usual questions are being raised as to what team Steve Bruce will pick to take on the the Eagles.

I have my own opinion on the best starting eleven but unfortunately Steve Bruce appears to be ‘obliged’ to play Bentaleb, Rose and Lazaro.

The January loan signings are a problem for me as they have turned out to be unnecessary.

They actually cause more headaches than they actually solve and I think they have been brought in on the understanding that if they are fit, they play. That would certainly seem to be a condition of the deals happening as their only motives for coming seem to be to get fit for their national sides. You’d think we would have learned our lesson all those years ago with a certain Mr M Owen of England FC.

Put simply (and without wishing to doubt their professionalism) I don’t see them busting a gut in the same manner that they would if they were our players outright. None of them seem to have played for yonks and need time to get up to speed. Hardly the right conditions for signing new players.

The news that megaflop Joelinton was struggling to make the Palace game because of a knock actually raised my optimism levels somewhat, safe in the knowledge that Bruce could be forced NOT to play him rather than forced TO play him, which I firmly believe to be the case under normal circumstances.

It’s a sad state of affairs when you’re looking at this sort of scenario to force a manager’s hand into changing what is so blatantly obvious, which is to drop the lad and find another way. Bruce had chances to drop him when others were fit but he didn’t, so the onus is on him to play no matter what. And Bruce stated that he isn’t Mike Ashley’s puppet? Pull the other one.

Bruce later backtracked and said that he thinks the Brazilian ‘should be ok’ which deflated my optimism levels somewhat. If Joelinton starts up front today, we are once again effectively down to ten men, maybe not in numbers but certainly in the business of getting goals from our front line.

And that’s it, that’s where the problems lie. We are sound defensively and seem ok at the back in every game we play, it’s the further forward we go where the problems arise. We lose the ball the second we try and build anything like forward momentum, the midfield sits too deep and before they even get past the halfway line, the opposition have swamped their space and vision and we are on the back foot again. That’s why our possession stats are often 30% or less.

You can’t just go ripping up the whole formation as playing with a back five is why we have such a good defence (relatively speaking) in front of the outstanding Martin Dubravka. I believe the best trio of centre backs we have is Federico Fernandez (best defender at the club) Jamaal Lascelles (club captain) and Fabian Schar (excellent with the ball).

For me the wing-backs pick themselves and it has to be Matt Ritchie and DeAndre Yedlin. I like the attacking ability of Jetro Willens and the defensive reliability of Paul Dummett but as they are both long term absentees we have very little option.

In the middle Isaac Hayden is a shoe in and from there you can pick either of the Longstaffs as they have both had their moments both good and bad this season. Ideally you would find a place for Jonjo Shelvey (our current top goal scorer) but as he’s also fettled we’ve lost yet more goals from the side.

In trying to get goals into the team I’ve picked as many of our current (fit) players with as many goals as I could but it’s when I get to this stage that we inevitably start to struggle to pick players. Now you’re all going to have to bear with me here. These are NOT ideal circumstances. If we had Salomon Rondon to choose from then our problems would be solved, if our former forward had been retained, I firmly believe that we would be pushing for, if not be in, a European spot by now and that’s even WITH Steve Bruce as Head Coach.

People love Alain Saint-Maximin and even though I see some flair in him, Miguel Almiron has more goals, is quicker and while it’s a toss up which one you play, I’ll go for Miggy.

The forward line isn’t going to score loads of goals all of a sudden no matter who you pick to play up there but one thing is certain, whoever plays it has to be better than what we have with Joelinton starting. So with that in mind I’ve gone with fit again pair Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto.

And so, for those of you that haven’t just collapsed in shock, that’s where we are I’m afraid. In an ideal world BELIEVE ME, I wouldn’t pick Muto and Gayle. I personally think our best bet at goals from what is available at the club is a combination of Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle but sadly that partnership is highly unlikely to see the light of day, Carroll is a perma-crock who shouldn’t have been signed.

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