Allan Saint-Maximin – Newcastle’s offensive linchpin

Allan Saint-Maximin put in another fantastic performance last night as Newcastle beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2 at The Hawthorns to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2005/06.

He didn’t score, but he did register a brilliant assist for Miguel Almiron’s first goal of the evening. The game came in something of a challenging time for the Frenchman, with reports of a fallout with Steve Bruce having hit the media.

Allan Saint-Maximin and Steve Bruce “bust up”

According to manager Steve Bruce, the Daily Mail’s report of there having been some sort of a “bust up” after Saturday’s game are totally incorrect.

Bruce was scathing in his response to Mail reporter Craig Hope after last night’s game, calling him out during the press conference. You can find the video of that below.

Hope wrote in his “incorrect” report that Allan Saint-Maximin had taken issue with manager Bruce during Saturday’s Premier League game against Burnley. Bruce opted to leave Saint-Maximin on the bench and told media the Frenchman had a slight hamstring issue.

Saint-Maximin did come on during the second half but Bruce told media he did not want to risk him from the start – especially given the fact he has already missed games this season due to hamstring issues.

Although United didn’t win the game against Burnley, it did turn out to be the right decision. Saint-Maximin was fit enough to play from the beginning last night and was key to the offensive side of Newcastle’s play all night long.

Saint-Maximin’s impact

On the field, Saint-Maximin has been an absolute diamond find for Newcastle this season. The stats show that he is incredibly important to the club – they’ve managed to win just one of their 11 games without him so far this season.

On WhoScored, Allan Saint-Maximin ranks as Newcastle’s top performer on the field so far this season with an average match rating of 7.09. In attack, he likes to pick the ball deep and drive into the space, taking on all comers with his fancy flicks and blistering pace.

On his day, there isn’t a defender in the Premier League who can stand toe-to-toe with Saint-Maximin and repeatedly get the better of him. While he sometimes makes the wrong decision when it comes to end product, he really has been the linchpin to Newcastle’s offence this season.

On average, Saint-Maximin completes 4.3 dribbles per game – far more than second best in the Newcastle team – that’s Almiron with 1.5 dribbles per game. In fact, only Adama Traore and Wilfried Zaha rank higher in this particular stat per game.

Given how defensive Newcastle are and given how little time they actually spend on the ball in any given match, that statistic is mightily impressive. United currently rank rock bottom of the league in terms of average possession per game with just 40.2%.

It goes to show just how important he is to everything Steve Bruce’s side do on the rare occasions when they’re on the attack. The biggest issue he has so far is end product – he’s managed just two goals in all competitions this season.

That end product is something that will come with time. The best possible example I can think of is Adama Traore – for a few years, he developed a reputation as a player who was incredible on the ball but couldn’t shoot or cross. This season, he’s totally flipped that on its head and is now one of the hottest properties in the league.

Personally, I think it’s only a matter of time before Saint-Maximin finds his form in front of goal. Look at the goal he bagged against Oxford in the FA Cup fourth round replay – the ability is clearly there. Once he does find that golden touch in the 18-yard-box, I feel sorry for the rest of the Premier League teams who have to try and stop him.

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