Newcastle United supporters have been pretty despondent in recent times after seeing their side fail to win any of their opening four Premier League games prior to the international break.
Rafa Benitez’s men finished tenth in the top-flight last season upon their return to the Premier League, yet they weren’t overly active in the summer transfer window in luring just seven players to St James’ Park. And they haven’t made the best of starts to this campaign in picking up just one point from their first four games, drawing 0-0 at Cardiff City alongside defeats at the hands of Tottenham, Chelsea, and Manchester City.
As such, there have been many frustrated Magpies supporters up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are wondering what changes, if any, Benitez may make to his side ahead of the visit of Unai Emery’s Arsenal this afternoon.
And given how vulnerable the Gunners have looked defensively so far this term, the Spaniard must seek to bring £5.4 million-rated winger Christian Atsu (as per Transfermarkt) into the starting eleven as they seek their first victory of the season.
The Ghana international made the permanent move to the North East last summer after helping the club win promotion to the Championship while on loan the season before, and he went on to net twice and lay on two assists for the Magpies in 28 Premier League appearances last time round.
But the 26-year-old has yet to start a league game this term what with the likes of Kenedy and Ayoze Perez keeping him out of the side, although Benitez must be tempted to start him against Arsenal given their defensive woes this term.
Ultimately, Emery’s side have shipped eight goals in their four league games so far and failed to keep a clean sheet in any of those matches, with part of the problem being how vulnerable they have looked to players getting at them with pace and trickery.
Add in the fact that the full backs of Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin enjoy getting forward to help out in attack, and there is sure to be space in behind for Newcastle to exploit – and who better to exploit that than the pacey Atsu.
Yes, the Magpies will likely have to soak up much pressure and defend well against the Gunners such have been how good Emery’s side have looked going forward, but there is definitely joy to be had for Newcastle with pace on the counter-attack.
As such, Benitez must seek to draft 26-year-old Atsu into his starting eleven as the Magpies go in search of their first Premier League win of the season.
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