Aleksandar Mitrovic has had an interesting start to his career in the Premier League with one red and two yellow cards to his name already. He could arguably have been sent off on all three occasions, but there is a very talented player underneath the disciplinary issues. His performance against Chelsea suggests that he has learned from his three match suspension and that he won’t be as rash as he was in his first four games. The Serbian is only 21, but he is already key to Newcastle United and that is evident when you watch the Magpies play.
The club have lacked an influential target up front since Andy Carroll, and have since had good strikers, but none have been able to make the position their own. Demba Ba, Loic Remy and Papiss Cisse have all had success, but they aren’t players capable of holding up the ball and that is what Newcastle need. They have struggled to control games and create chances in the final third. However in the two full matches that Mitrovic has played, the side have looked good offensively with the Serbian’s aggressive style of play allowing Newcastle to have sustained periods of possession in the final third.
There aren’t many better players in the air than the Serbian striker and he displayed that on Saturday as both Kurt Zouma and Gary Cahill struggled to beat Mitrovic aerially. The presence of Mitrovic in the side led indirectly to both goals, which came from balls into the box. The Chelsea defenders were thinking about the Serbian on both occasions, which allowed Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum to score.
It’s no secret that Newcastle have struggled this season, despite spending upwards of £50m in the summer transfer window. There have been some positive signs that the team are moving in the right direction, but a combination of poor discipline and a tough fixture list have caused them to pick up just three points so far. There is also a confidence issue at the club, with many players having a losing mentality that was picked up in the second half of last season.
In the two matches that Mitrovic has played a full part in, he has given the team confidence and a fighting spirit which has otherwise been lacking. He also offers a target in the final third and is very good at holding the ball up, which allows the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum to influence the match in dangerous areas. The former Anderlecht striker has also struck up a good relationship with Ayoze Perez, with some of the pair’s link up play against Chelsea being excellent to watch.
Although Mitrovic has already gained a negative reputation for being a hothead, he is also a very promising striker with the potential to become a top class striker. His aerial ability will make him difficult to defend against and he doesn’t look like the type of player to go invisible in matches. Newcastle need some inspiration to kickstart their season and I think that Mitrovic is the man to do that.