Mark Douglas, The Chronicle’s Football Publishing Editor, has tipped Steve Bruce to bench Miguel Almiron for Newcastle United’s trip to Liverpool on Saturday.
Almiron has featured in all but four of the Premier League fixtures available to him (TransferMarkt) since joining the Magpies from MLS franchise Atlanta United in January for a reported £21million (The Guardian), including the full ninety minutes in each top-flight fixture played under Bruce so far this season.
Newcastle head to Anfield having drawn at home to Watford in their last league meeting before the international break, while Liverpool carry an unbeaten record into the weekend as the Premier League leaders and the only side to have put four wins on the board.
Jurgen Klopp’s Merseyside outfit also boast the second-most prolific offence in the top-flight after four games, and one that ended the 2018/19 campaign with 89 goals – 44 of which were evenly bagged by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
The Egyptian and Senegalese forwards are two men Newcastle will have to look to contain if they are to take anything back to St. James’ Park, and Douglas expects Bruce to revert to his initially favoured formation and drop Almiron to the bench in the hopes of doing so.
“He’s looking at ways to nullify Liverpool’s threat, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw a few tactical changes,” Douglas noted during a Q&A on the Chronicle’s live feed (September 11, 16:16).
“A return to 5-3-2 wouldn’t be a huge surprise – and I could see Miguel Almiron dropping to the bench, because he hasn’t been involved in the training sessions leading up to the Anfield clash. It’s a tough ask whoever they put out.”
Bruce’s use of three central defenders behind three central midfielders against Arsenal and Norwich saw the Magpies succumb to back-to-back defeats, while the Canaries’ triumph was connected to Newcastle’s fragility at the back, with the Chronicle suggesting players looked petrified of hat-trick hero Teemu Pukki.
To revert to this tactical line-up against a free-scoring offence like Liverpool’s would be rather puzzling, but what is not baffling would be to bench Almiron, given he has struggled to get in the right gear domestically this season.
The Paraguayan endured an error-strewn ninety-minutes against Watford, which left supporters visibly divided as he squandered numerous chances to record his first goal in black and white in what was his 14th attempt.
He managed to find some form for his country on Wednesday night after coming off the bench to score the equaliser against Jordan as Paraguay came from behind to win, and Bruce may be hoping the 25-year-old can make the same sort of impact at Anfield.
Newcastle fans, would you oppose Bruce reverting to a 5-3-2 and benching Almiron? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Newcastle notifications!