Did Miguel Almiron have an impact in Allan Saint-Maximin's absence? 
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When Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce confirmed that his star man Allan Saint-Maximin would miss out on his sides' trip to Crystal Palace on Friday night, many Magpies fans were calling out for Miguel Almiron to take his place.

Newcastle have had three members of their first team (players and staff) test positive for Covid-19, with others self-isolating however Bruce revealed that that Saint-Maximin wasn't one of these people and that he had a calf injury.

Despite Saint-Maximin struggling to impress in the team in recent weeks, most who watch the Premier League know about the danger he poses to opposition and against a makeshift Palace side he may well have enjoyed his night in London.

And with the change of shape to a 4-4-2 formation, the Frenchman may have had an improved performance in a system which could have allowed him to use his trickery out-wide. His style of play simply didn't suit the more negative approach used in the defeat to Chelsea the previous weekend.

But how did Almiron get on in his place? 

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Where did Almiron play?

Almiron came in where Saint-Maximin would have expected to have played on the left-wing.

As much as this is where Newcastle fans have usually seen the best of their popular French attacker Saint-Maximin, it is a position where Almiron hasn't shown his best form.

This was the case again at Selhurst Park on Friday as the Paraguayan struggled to get into the game out on the left.

When he signed from Atlanta United for a club record fee in January 2019, it was expected that he would play in behind the striker, a role which he had worked wonders in playing in the USA.

In the few occasions Almiron has been deployed in that role at St James' Park, he has looked at his best with the winger role not really suiting him.

Saying that, there was one moment during the Palace win where he found himself in a central role but instead of driving into the box he played a poor ball aimed at Sean Longstaff.

Confidence may understandably be an issue given his lack of game time and the inconsistent form from the Magpies, but Almiron certainly didn't fill Saint-Maximin's boots on this occasion. 

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A frustrating evening

Almiron was replaced by Matt Ritchie in the 68th minute and this looked to be a good move from Steve Bruce as the Scottish wide-man added a new dimension to the Newcastle side.

Ritchie is a natural in that position and despite not featuring that often under Bruce, he has done well when called upon.

His dangerous crosses gave the Palace back-line something different to think about with one ball in being perfect for Joelinton to get his head on, however the Brazilian got it all wrong and mis-timed his jump.

Ritchie wasn't directly involved in either of Newcastle's two late goals but he had an impact in his own way and offered a different approach which wasn't going to come from Almiron in what was a poor showing from him.

The man signed by Rafa Benitez ahead of the 2016/17 Championship season has certainly left current boss Bruce with a decision to make ahead of the trip to Villa Park in another Friday night game next week.  

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What now for Almiron?

It remains to be seen how long Saint-Maximin will be out of action for but Almiron didn't particularly help himself on Friday night.

He may still have a place in the side regardless of Saint-Maximin's situation with Newcastle's right-midfielder Jeff Hendrick also struggling to make any impact against Palace.

However Hendrick has been popular with Bruce so may continue to keep his place and if Bruce recognised the impact made by Ritchie when he came on, then there is a chance that he could remain in the starting eleven against Aston Villa next time.

The saying is "never change a winning team" and it could be argued that this win in South London looked more likely to be a goalless stalemate before Callum Wilson scored what looked to be the only goal after 87 minutes.

But going off that theory, Bruce is likely to keep his 4-4-2 system against a Villa side who the Magpies will surely be looking to take three points off as well. 

However, Almiron may struggle to make that eleven if his latest showing is anything to go off.

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