Steve Bruce bemoans lack of goal threat as his Newcastle side lose in the capital again
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 22:  Steve Bruce, Manager of Aston Villa looks on prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Brentford at Villa Park on August 22, 2018 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

It was the ideal chance to prove their critics wrong and respond to claims that they should have took the gamble on securing a new striker in January.

But unfortunately for Steve Bruce, his side failed to find the net again and are beginning to look over their shoulder in the Premier League table.

United should have enough points to secure safety from here until the end of the season, but as always they seem to be doing it the hard way.

Time for a change

As Bruce has often eluded to, his side have given the ball way too cheaply in games but yesterday it became a deeper problem than that - and that was their threat in the final third.

Bruce spoke afterwards: "I don't think we deserved to win the game.

"We have played in games and looked a threat, but today we huffed and puffed, but in the final third we didn't do a lot.

"We are disappointed that the big Achilles heel was obvious, giving the ball away so cheaply, especially in the final third.

"We never really asked their defenders to defend properly and maybe it is time to change and look at something different, our final ball and our final cross has been lacking," he said.

Spotlight on January signings 

Just like last week's Arsenal defeat, the Magpies' starting eleven contained all three loan additions, and again United were on the losing side.

Valentino Lazaro picked up the first red card of his career in the closing stages, whilst Nabil Bentaleb and Danny Rose have been a long way from their best.

Bruce was certain those who were brought in would improve this Newcastle side, but work needs to be done for his new recruits to prove him right. 

In terms of team selection it was the same side that struggled at the Emirates - bar the injured Ciaran Clark

Bruce showed faith again in Joelinton spearheading the front three, leaving Dwight Gayle on the bench. 

He said: "He (Gayle) has trained for eight or nine days.

"I thought I put put him on for some minutes, but we didn't really give him a chance.

"Our decision making in the final third wasn't good enough."

It is food for thought for Bruce that after drawing another blank in front of goal, that starting Gayle next week at home to Burnley could be a change that will bring Newcastle a threat in front of goal. 

Bruce wants improvement 

It was disappointing for United to have conceded the only goal of the game from a direct free-kick just before interval.

But in reality Martin Dubravka saved his side on numerous occasions, and as a result there were no complaints about the end result.

There was to be no late drama like at Goodison Park, and Bruce knows his side need to keep the ball better if they have any chance of even creating goal-scoring opportunities.

"The one thing we didn't do was give up, and that's not a problem but we do have to be more of a threat to win matches in the Premier League.

"Arsenal and Palace away, both are not easy games, but we didn't cause enough problems in the final third and that's what we have got to try and address," he said.