In the game against Norwich, there were stand out performers. In the game against Wigan, a secondary team gave a similar performance. These performers gave Steve Bruce a selection dilemma come Friday night’s away match against Bristol City. Whilst it’s not a bad issue to have, the manager needs to get a great balance between who he plays and who is left out. It’s also a problem that is only exacerbated by the recent loan signing of Robert Snodgrass who can play as a right-winger or as an attacking midfielder.
The main positional issues that Bruce has are in the midfield.
Firstly, there’s the issue of Andre Green vs. Birkir Bjarnason on the left hand side. Birkir has recently picked up form, appearing in four games, scoring once and assisting once. After a bad injury in the tail end of last season, the Icelandic midfielder never really got a chance to become accustomed to English football. After a few displays where he didn’t seem to ignite, he’s becoming better and better on the left. Andre Green is of course, “one of our own” – meaning the fans have an affinity towards him much like that of Jack Grealish. He has performed well and scored an absolute blinding goal against Norwich, but has had games where he’s meowed rather than roared. The youngster has appeared five times and scored once.
So, judging by statistics, Birkir Bjarnason should be starting over Andre Green – but then again there are secondary factors such as mentality and how likely they are to defend and cover other areas of the pitch.
Then there’s the issue of Albert Adomah vs. Ahmed Elmohamady. They have played in 4 games each so far this season, but Adomah has scored once and assisted twice, whilst Elmohamady has assisted once. By statistics, Adomah should be playing – but they are both ageing and rotation may be necessary throughout the season. Adomah’s play at times has looked worse-for-wear, but then again Elmo’s play has suffered once or twice to. They both show flecks of brilliance and rotation may do them well. However, with the introduction of Snodgrass, we may see Elmo move to a wing-back position.
Regardless of who’s better on paper, and who’s most impressive in one game, Bruce needs to decide who his strongest side is and run with that idea. But with so many players trying to cement their place in the eleven, it might take a while to figure out who that is.