Can Joelin­ton break New­cas­tle shack­les?

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League -

Fears that Andy Car­roll may not be fit to start a match for New­cas­tle be­fore Christ­mas mean a lot of pres­sure rests on the shoul­ders of sum­mer sign­ing Joelin­ton.

The club-record

£40 mil­lion pur­chase is a rounded striker able to run with the ball and hold it up but, most im­por­tantly, scores goals. The worry is that the Brazil­ian has only found the back of the net once in the Premier League so far.

That goal, the win­ner in a 1-0 vic­tory over Spurs, came from one of New­cas­tle’s only at­tacks in the en­tire match. Spurs had 80.2 per cent pos­ses­sion as Steve Bruce’s side sat in a low block which frus­trated their op­po­nents and en­sured any chances cre­ated at the other end were of enor­mously high value. The one de­cent op­por­tu­nity Joelin­ton had to shoot in­side the box ended up in the net.

Joelin­ton’s hold-up and link play were bril­liant and fun­da­men­tal to keep­ing New­cas­tle in the match.

Drop­ping wher­ever needed to re­lieve pres­sure, us­ing his physique to shield the ball and bring oth­ers into play, Joelin­ton’s touchmap was of a striker play­ing for the team, with only five touches in the box.

New­cas­tle’s strat­egy is to de­fend, de­fend some more and then hit teams on the counter. Wat­ford strug­gled to break them down in a 1-1 draw and Brighton had 71.3 per cent pos­ses­sion in a 0-0 stale­mate.

The co­nun­drum that Joelin­ton faces is how to score the goals ex­pected of him while be­ing de­ployed as a mo­bile pass­ing wall, a for­ward whose work is mostly done in ap­proach play rather than fin­ish­ing off moves.

The fi­nal 15 min­utes of the draw with Brighton showed a dif­fer­ent

ap­proach, with New­cas­tle swap­ping Jonjo Shelvey for Ki Sung-yueng and gain­ing con­trol of mid­field. Hav­ing sur­vived con­stant Brighton at­tacks, the time had come to take the game to their op­po­nents and steal the three points, but by then Joelin­ton’s race had been run. Ex­hausted and with only three touches in the Brighton box, he was re­placed by Car­roll for the fi­nal push.

Le­ices­ter will con­trol pos­ses­sion and the game to­mor­row be­cause, sim­ply, they have bet­ter play­ers, an ad­ven­tur­ous man­ager and pose a real threat. But that might play per­fectly into Bruce’s tac­ti­cal plans. New­cas­tle will sit deep and may need only a sin­gle chance to win the three points.

Joelin­ton’s thank­less task will be act­ing as a light­ning rod, bring­ing oth­ers into play and – if all goes to plan – scor­ing that one op­por­tu­nity he is granted by Bruce’s su­per­cau­tious ap­proach.

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