Bruce aiming to add a striker in January to bolster goal-shy Newcastle

By Sports Desk January 04, 2020

Steve Bruce has confirmed Newcastle United are "working away" to sign a striker during the January transfer window.

United have scored 20 goals in 21 Premier League games this season, while their profligacy in the final third forced them to settle for a 1-1 draw away at Rochdale in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Club-record signing Joelinton has certainly found the transition tough since arriving from Hoffenheim in July, finding the net only once.

Bruce revealed he has already had a "couple of knock-backs" in his attempts to add attacking reinforcements, though he will not be making any panic buys before the end of the month.

"We've had a couple of knock-backs already, so we'll keep working away," the Newcastle boss said after the game with Rochdale.

"It's very difficult, especially at that end of the pitch, to get something that's going to make you better. I won't just be bringing in players for the sake of it, but we'll see what the next two or three weeks bring."

Bruce added: "Our frailties are pretty obvious - we don't score enough goals and with the chances we've created today we've got to be taking them and the tie should have been put to bed."

Joelinton's struggles continued against Rochdale, the Brazilian hitting the target with just one of his six shots against League One opponents.

However, Bruce used the example of Miguel Almiron – who scored Newcastle's goal at Spotland on Saturday after finally breaking his duck for the club against Crystal Palace last month – to portray how quickly things can turn around.

"He [Joelinton] has had a difficult time but he's got to stick at it," Bruce said. "Until two weeks ago Almiron hadn't scored but now he's scored two in fairly quick succession, so he's just got to stick at it."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Sancho alternative Dembele rejects Man Utd as Red Devils eye Jovic and Cavani Rumour Has It: Sancho alternative Dembele rejects Man Utd as Red Devils eye Jovic and Cavani

    Ousmane Dembele has been linked with a move to Manchester United before the transfer window closes.

    Dembele is seen as an alternative to Jadon Sancho, who remains at Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.

    But Dembele is reportedly against leaving Camp Nou.

     

    TOP STORY – DEMBELE NOT INTERESTED IN UNITED

    Ousmane Dembele does not want to leave Barcelona amid interest from Manchester United, claims Sky Deutschland via Inside Futbol.

    Dembele has emerged as an option for United, who have failed to prise number one transfer target Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

    As Dortmund refuse to lower their demands, United reportedly want Dembele on loan, however the France international is happy at Camp Nou.

     

    ROUND-UP

    United are also eyeing former Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani and Real Madrid's Luka Jovic, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. Desperate to reinforce their squad, United are set to attempt to sign free agent Cavani or Jovic on loan. Jovic has also been linked to Roma, Milan and Inter.

    - Fabrizio Romano says Tottenham remain in talks with Inter for Milan Skriniar. Spurs are determined to sign the centre-back, though Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger – also linked to PSG – is an alternative.

    Callum Hudson-Odoi is interested in joining Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, reports Sky Germany. The Chelsea winger has previously been linked with Bayern, and he has struggled to cement his position in London.

    Lucas Torreira's agent is set for transfer talks with Atletico Madrid as the Arsenal midfielder looks to leave London, reports Romano. It comes as Gunners full-back Sead Kolasinac nears a switch to Bayer Leverkusen.

  • Wan-trick pony or next great full-back? Wan-Bissaka giving Man Utd food for thought Wan-trick pony or next great full-back? Wan-Bissaka giving Man Utd food for thought

    It's fair to say not many viewers think Manchester United deserved to beat Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend. 

    Aside from Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty after the initial full-time whistle, the Red Devils were largely outplayed and outfought by Brighton, who hit the woodwork a record five times and still contrived to lose 3-2. 

    Aaron Wan-Bissaka had a more difficult game than most. It was his error that led to Neal Maupay opening the scoring from the penalty spot and he was nowhere to be found when Solly March scored in the 94th minute to make it 2-2. 

    Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was keen to deflect the blame away from Wan-Bissaka, saying United need to do more collectively to prevent crosses, adding: "Every player in this league has got strengths and weaknesses. We all know Aaron's strengths. One of his strengths is he wants to learn and wants to improve." 

    And yet, the criticism of Wan-Bissaka has been building quietly in 2020. Unquestionably a good one-on-one defender, the £50million signing from Crystal Palace has been questioned over what he does when he actually has the ball at his feet, both in his own half and the opposition's. 

    But is this criticism justified? As United prepare to face Brighton again in the EFL Cup, we delve into the Opta data to find out.

     

    ALL FOR WAN, WAN FOR ALL

    Simply put, United have been better at defending since Wan-Bissaka's arrival.

    His fee was sizeable for a player with just two seasons of senior football behind him, but United were desperate for a specialised right-back after years of using converted wingers Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young. Wan-Bissaka was an investment for the present and the future.

    His impact – and that of Harry Maguire, of course – was immediate. Having conceded 54 goals in the Premier League in 2018-19, United let in just 36 last term, the best record after Liverpool and Manchester City. Their clean sheet tally jumped from seven to 13 and they faced 389 shots compared to 496 the season before.

    Wan-Bissaka missed just three league games last season, against Arsenal, Newcastle United and Burnley, and United only won one of those (Burnley away).

     

    A WINGER'S NIGHTMARE...

    We all know Wan-Bissaka loves a tackle – and he's good at them, too.

    Since his United debut, no Premier League defender has attempted (132) or won (83) more tackles than him. His success rate in challenges is a more modest 62.9 per cent, but that's still superior to Kyle Walker (61.3), Ben Chilwell (60.5) and Andy Robertson (58.9) over the same period.

    He has won back possession 183 times for United in the league and only been dribbled past 24 times, committing 23 fouls (interestingly, his much-maligned team-mate Victor Lindelof has been dribbled past three times in the same period, the joint-best record in the whole division for a defender).

    Similarly, Wan-Bissaka has won 231 duels for the Red Devils, the ninth-best tally among defenders since the start of last season, which gives him an average success rate of 59.5 per cent – not outstanding, but comfortably within the top half of defenders to play at least 20 times since the start of 2019-20.

    ...BUT A NIGHTMARE WINGER?

    Winning the ball back comes easy to Wan-Bissaka, then – but what about using it?

    Possessional passing is a problem, for one thing. Since the start of 2019-20, he has averaged an 80.4 per cent completion rate on passes in his own half. Only 14 defenders to play in at least 20 games in that period have a lower number.

    Interestingly, his passing accuracy rate jumps to 82 per cent in the opposition half – the ninth highest in the league for defenders – and he is sixth for success rate for passes ending in the final third (78.9 per cent).

    Wan-Bissaka is also far better running at players than perception suggests. Since the start of 2019-20, he has completed 54 dribbles – the third highest for a defender – at a success rate of just under 60 per cent.

    However, it's how he uses the space he creates for himself that is a cause for concern at times. For a player with such high completed dribble numbers, 14 completed crosses is a poor return. In fact, his success rate of 13.59 per cent is the worst of any defender to complete at least eight crosses since the start of last season.

    It follows that he has created only 25 chances in that time, fewer than Matt Targett and Ryan Fredericks, and has just four assists – one more than he managed in 42 league games for Palace, but well behind league leader Alexander-Arnold on 14 since August 2019.

    Solskjaer sees in Wan-Bissaka a player who is keen to learn, and he has already improved in his relatively short time at Old Trafford. He is certainly a more rounded full-back than some might think, but there is a long way to go before he reaches an elite all-round level.

  • Lampard pleased with Mendy's Chelsea debut despite defeat Lampard pleased with Mendy's Chelsea debut despite defeat

    Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard praised Edouard Mendy following his debut for the Blues in their EFL Cup loss to London rivals Tottenham as Kepa Arrizabalaga watched from the bench.

    Mendy made his first Chelsea appearance after leaving Rennes in a reported £20million deal last week and impressed, despite Tuesday's 5-4 penalty shoot-out defeat in the round of 16.

    Starting ahead of embattled team-mate and the world's most expensive goalkeeper Kepa, who was dropped for the 3-3 Premier League draw at West Brom as Lampard turned to Willy Caballero, Mendy produced a good save to thwart Sergio Reguilon in the second half.

    Discussing Mendy's performance at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Lampard told reporters: "I thought he was very good. I think he made a couple of good saves, one particularly good save.

    "He came and caught a few balls, even the one he comes for and doesn't catch, the idea that he wants to and be positive isn't a bad thing. Very, very pleased with every part of his game really."

    Erik Lamela's equaliser cancelled out Timo Werner's first-half opener for Chelsea in normal time as penalties were needed.

    Werner – a high-profile signing from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig – struck his first Blues goal 19 minutes into the contest before Tottenham's Lamela drilled past Mendy with seven minutes remaining.

    The first nine penalties of the ensuing shoot-out were converted before Mason Mount clipped the outside of the left post with the 10th, allowing Spurs to progress.

    "Listen, I don't think 'a shattering blow' is what it should be, I know it was a disappointing night to get knocked out of the Carabao Cup," Lampard said. "Mason will have many more nights for this club and for his country where he'll play in games of huge importance and he'll be the deciding factor in a positive way.

    "So no, Mason's got my support at all times, and the team's, and everybody around it. You miss a penalty, it's a collective when you get this far in a game like this."

    Lampard added: "We were dominant and you want to score more goals at that point because of the amount of possession and chances. Callum [Hudson-Odoi] had a good chance for us in the first half.

    "I think probably Tottenham would have felt that, they would have felt that hard and they changed their game and went longer in their build, which meant our press, which had been fantastic in the first half, wasn't so relevant up the pitch. They turned us round and made us run backwards rather than being able to press forwards. And then it becomes really difficult, to be fair to the lads.

    "We could have been better in the second half and maybe dealt a bit better with that physical nature of Tottenham's game but it slightly changed the case of the game but I think even so, they had some chances second half and so did we and at 1-0, one more goal finishes it for us and we didn't get that."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.