When it comes to team selection at Newcastle United, there is no longer an excuse for an overuse of pragmatism.
Take Adam Armstrong, for instance. The 17-year-old striker has started one game all season – the Capital One Cup win at Crystal Palace – but he registered two assists in that game, more than any team-mate of his has managed in six Premier League matches.
Boss Alan Pardew, meanwhile, admits he is one of the best finishers at the club. So, with Newcastle sitting miserably in 19th in the standings, why not start him at Swansea this weekend?
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As Opta stats show, the Magpies have had hardly any joy in front of goal this season. As a whole, Pardew’s men have taken the third-most shots in the top flight – but are 19th in terms of shooting accuracy.
Emmanuel Riviere, Remy Cabella, Yoan Gouffran and more have taken a huge amount of shots, though Newcastle have just five goals to their name so far this season. Papiss Cisse, thanks to half an hour of football against Hull City, is his side’s top scorer…
The excuse, then, that Armstrong is only 17 and shouldn’t be put under too much pressure is simply that right now: an excuse. The problems facing the Magpies are glaringly obvious – they need a goalscorer.
So why not use Armstrong against Swansea City? What have Newcastle got to lose?
The case of Rolando Aarons adds further weight to the argument. The 18-year-old was brought on against Crystal Palace in the 3-3 draw in the Premier League and immediately made an impact. In 39 minutes of football, Aarons has more goals than the majority of his team-mates put together. That’s saying something considering he scored just once.
Granted, the Aarons case also shows the pitfalls of using a young player regularly, as he has been out injured since training the following week.
But that’s not going to happen in every case. And this is only going to be one game. One game that could change a season if it goes well – like every other Newcastle game right now.
Similarly to Aarons, Armstrong has a fearless approach to the game as he is brand new to the surroundings of senior football. That actually alleviates the pressure on him and will shield him from the problems clearly obstructing Newcastle’s other front men right now.
Simply put, he has to start.