After suffering a disappointing defeat at the hands of Manchester United last week, Newcastle United will be hoping to finally get their Premier League campaign on track when they take on Leeds United on Friday night.
Steve Bruce’s side currently lie 19th in the top-flight after a winless start, tonight facing a Leeds side who are also struggling at the start of this new season and still in search of their first win.
The Magpies boss will surely have some big calls to make after the torrid nature in which they threw away a 1-1 draw into a 4-1 defeat at Old Trafford, and one man who will be sweating on his place is Ciaran Clark.
The Republic of Ireland international was hardly alone in enduring a nightmare afternoon against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, but his mistakes last week were costly’ and when you think of the kind high-pressing, high-intensity side that Leeds are, those errors could rear their ugly head once again.
As per Sofascore, he lost both of the duels in which he was involved, made no tackles whatsoever and was dribbled past once as Cristiano Ronaldo and co ran riot in the second half.
What will also be worrying is that he looked shaky on the ball too, conceding possession on seven occasions, the most of any Magpies defender aside from Matt Ritchie, who should be noted played as more of a wing-back. He also found his mark with just one of his four attempted long balls.
Writing for The Shields Gazette and The Chronicle respectively, both Miles Starforth and Lee Ryder were critical of Clark’s second-half performance in particular, giving him a measly five and four in their post-match player ratings.
Given the nature of how Marcelo Bielsa’s side look to press from the front and put players under pressure when on the ball, Clark might just well be a liability once again – as per WhoScored, his 77.8% pass accuracy this season is worse than the likes of Federico Fernandez, Jamaal Lascelles and Isaac Hayden among others.
If Clark plays, then there’s every chance Leeds will look to test both his ability on the ball and his questionable positioning, both of which let him down against Manchester United last week and could cost the Magpies once again.
The £35k-a-week earning ace simply has to be dropped tonight when the Whites come to town.