Steve Bruce now facing massive Jamaal Lascelles dilemma
A massive Jamaal Lascelles dilemma now faces Steve Bruce, a decision needing to be made.
Is this Newcastle United Head Coach up to the job, will he have the bottle to do what very much needs to happen.
We have already seen Steve Bruce keep Karl Darlow in the Newcastle side far too long, once the club’s best keeper Martin Dubravka was fully fit once again.
Are we to see this repeated with Jamaal Lascelles?
One of the journalists who is closest to Steve Bruce, had an exclusive on Tuesday saying that Bruce had finally now decided to bring Martin Dubravka back into the team on Saturday, for the crunch (must win?) game at home to Wolves.
Will Steve Bruce be brave enough to also leave out Jamaal Lascelles.
The NUFC Head Coach has already said that Federico Fernandez will be back available for this Wolves match, so it is a no-brainer that he must play.
In the 19 months Bruce has been at St James Park, the Argentine international has been by some distance Newcastle’s best centre-back and MUST play against Wolves if fully fit.
There can be no more messing about, Newcastle United now need their best players on the pitch as the danger of relegation is all too real.
Sad to say but Jamaal Lascelles is not one of Newcastle United’s best players, indeed he is not even one of Newcastle’s best available eleven players for this weekend.
Lascelles’ last eight Premier League starts have resulted in seven defeats and one win. In the seven defeats, every match has seen Newcastle conceded two or more goals, 16 in total in the seven matches.
To add to the picture, in the one PL match Newcastle have won these past three and a half months when Jamaal Lascelles was in the starting eleven, he wasn’t even actually on the pitch when Newcastle won the match. The NUFC Captain subbed off on 54 minutes at Goodison Park, Newcastle going on to score two late goals to win in.
Which brings us to Ciaran Clark, the player who replaced Lascelles that day at Goodison Park.
He has also been playing regularly during Newcastle’s recent dreadful run of form and results BUT he has been playing far better than Jamaal Lascelles.
This newly published stats table shows how well he stood up to the pressure on Sunday despite the eventual 3-1 defeat to Man Utd.
The table from the Other 14 (who specialise on stats/tables etc on the 14 clubs who aren’t the ‘Big Six’) shows the players making the most combined blocks and clearances in this latest round of Premier League matches:
As you can see, Ciaran Clark the only Newcastle player to feature, making two blocks and five clearances against Man Utd.
Another interesting stats table published now by the Other 14, shows the players who have done the best in headed duels over the course of all 25 rounds of PL matches so far:
There are actually three Newcastle players who feature in this season-long table, however, Ciaran Clark is the only NUFC defender to do so when it comes to winning the highest percentage of headed duels.
Hayden with 60% and Carroll 64%, though pretty surprising that Ciaran Clark has actually won a bigger percentage of headed duels than Carroll has this season, never mind the other Newcastle United centre-backs.
For me the equation is easy this Saturday, when it comes to centre-backs.
Federico Fernandez has to start because he is Newcastle United’s best defender.
Ciaran Clark has to start because he has been Newcastle’s best defender recently and indeed done well pretty much whenever he has played this season.
There is no place for Jamaal Lascelles who has been struggling and the fact he is captain, is all a bit irrelevant. Especially when it has been difficult to see any leadership qualities whatsoever having been shown in recent times.
Obviously the left / right combination Clark can give is yet another reason to pick him.
He is also a better footballer (with the ball) than Jamaal Lascelles and indeed Fernandez as well.
Clark is quicker than Lascelles and as those season-long stats show above, is also doing better in the air than the NUFC captain, which is what toy would usually assume is one of the better parts of Lascelles’ game.
It is not a case of writing off Jamaal Lascelles, instead simply a case of better players available who need to start ahead of him.
With Martin Dubravka in goal and Fernandez and Clark in front of him, my confidence levels would be far higher going into this Wolves match. Here’s hoping.
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