One of the good things that has happened since Miguel Almiron has arrived at Newcastle is that the other forwards now know they must raise their game if they are to get into the starting line-up.
New signings not only make the squad better becasue they are better players than we have (usually), but they also help to raise the standards of the other players in those positions.
An excellent example of that is how Ayoze Perez seems to have lifted his play to a new level since early February,
We hope he can keep it up, but another player that Rafa wants to praise is Christian Atsu.
Miguel Almiron and Christian Atsu in training
We know Atsu has the skill and that he works really hard in training and in games.
And he seems determined to become a better player under Rafa Benitez at Newcastle.
This is what Rafa said in the Chronicle when asked if Almiron has lifted the Newcastle side:
“Obviously when you see out on the pitch, yes.”
“I want to give credit to Atsu, though. Atsu was on the bench, but he came on and was quite good, and gave an impact to the team.”
“But Atsu is different to Almiron.”
“Almiron has more pace over long distances, and he can make these sprints and run in behind the defenders to make more space for others.”
“I think he’s a different kind of player, but the understanding is quite good between the three of them. (Almiron, Perez and Rondon)”
“Also, I think the team as a team is more solid, because if you take Almiron out and you put in Muto, or you put in Atsu, then still the team was doing well.”
“I think now all the players know what they have to do.”
“And, when you put players in different places, it doesn’t make too much difference because they all know what each one has to do.”
Christian Atsu has made 26 appearances for Newcastle this season – with half of them being starts.
It looks like Rafa has the team well-drilled and as he says each player knows that he has to do when he’s playing for Newcastle.
Once the International break is over, we have Arsenal at the Emirates – a tough game, but we can still take something out of the match.
What do you think?