Christian Atsu has provided Steve Bruce with an unexpected boost since his return against Tottenham. He had just joined the team for training that week after missing all of pre-season with an injury suffered playing for Ghana.
The timing of Atsu’s return could not have been more ideal. Allan Saint-Maximin was struggling with his hamstring injury that he ultimately reinjured at Spurs. Matt Ritchie went down with an ankle injury in the following game against Leicester City.
Christian got his first start of the season against Watford in what was his third straight appearance that week. That was after not featuring or training with the team at all since July.
Christian Atsu– can he continue his run of good form
Christian Atsu also finished last season on a high as he started the final three games in the place of Miguel Almiron who had suffered his own hamstring injury. His last six appearances for Newcastle has been possibly his best run of form for Newcastle.
Atsu has spoken about his return to the team and as well as his performances last week. It seems that he is coming back to full strength after the lengthy lay-off.
He also makes a candid and apt assessment of his Newcastle career so far. Here is some of what he had to say in the Shields Gazette.
“I have been working hard to get back from my injury, and I feel as though I’m getting stronger with every training session and every game.
“It has been nice to be back in the team, and I feel like the sharpness is starting to return.
“The biggest thing for me this season is to be consistent. I have had some good performances with Newcastle, but I know that I need to start being more consistent and keeping my standards at the same level right through the season.
“That’s probably what has held me back in my time at Newcastle so far – I haven’t been consistent enough – and I’m working as hard as I can to try to improve that.”
Christian’s form since he joined Newcastle in 2016 has been patchy at best. He has often struggled with his final ball but also shows flashes of what he is capable of.
His self-examination is refreshing in its honesty. Christian has always seemed to us to be a top professional and a person of high integrity.
Christian also spoke a little about what Steve Bruce is having him do on the pitch. This is how the 27-year-old explains what the head coach is asking of him:
“I’m playing a bit further up the field under the new manager, and I’m happy about that.
“I think it suits the way I play. The manager has said he really wants me to press defenders, and I think that suits me.
“I think it will help me create things, because if the opposition loses the ball, I’m already in front of it, and that makes it easier to get forward and attack. Hopefully, that will mean I’m assisting more.
“I think this is going to be an important season for me. I have been here for four years now.
“I’ve had some good times and played some good games, but I still don’t really think people have been able to see the best of me, certainly not on a consistent basis.”
We have seen some of the benefits of what Steve Bruce is having Atsu do in his appearances so far. Christian has put in top performances in his two Premier League matches this season. If he can maintain this run of form, it would be such a bonus for this squad.
His contract runs out in the summer of 2021. He will be working very hard in the hopes of securing a new deal soon. However, he must continue to remain focused and show the consistency that has eluded him in the past.