Three reasons why Newcastle 24-year-old must start v Birmingham
By Will Butcher
Birmingham’s defence will struggle to cope with Newcastle’s flying winger Christian Atsu if he is handed a starting berth by Rafa Benitez.
The 24-year-old star has shone in glimpses for the Toon as he falls victim to a rigorous rotation policy adopted by former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss Benitez.
However, the on-loan Chelsea winger would thrive against Birmingham’s defence on Saturday and here are three reasons why.
Ghana international Atsu possesses a huge amount of pace with and without the ball on the left flank.
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Despite Gary Rowett’s defence known for their defensive rigidity, their lack of speed at the back is significant.
Atsu would thrive if given the chance from the off in front of the St. James’ Park crowd, as the Toon look to gain three points and consolidate their lead at the top of the Championship table.
Toon need fresh attacking edge
Three straight losses has begun to worry the Toon faithful, after failing to overcome Blackburn and Nottingham Forest while being knocked out of the EFL Cup by Hull City.
It could mean that Benitez will look to refresh his attack against the Blues, and Atsu should be the first player he brings in.
Atsu’s presence in the starting eleven could mean either Matt Ritchie or Yoann Gouffran miss out as the Toon look to secure their 14th Championship win.
Lack of chances will frustrate Atsu
Since moving to Tyneside in the summer, Atsu has been given just five starts for Newcastle despite spells with Premier League sides Everton and Bournemouth.
Scoring in two of those five starts, Benitez must give his number 30 more of a chance to shine before Atsu becomes disillusioned in the North East.
A start against Birmingham could be the perfect way to show Benitez that a permanent move to Newcastle should materialise.
In other Newcastle news, this is the best possible side to face Birmingham.