8 Key Decisions Steve McClaren Must Make Ahead Of Newcastle Vs Arsenal

8. Can NUFC Actually Start To Use Set-Pieces As A Weapon?

Newcastle United's set-pieces - both defensively and offensively - have been hopeless for quite a few years now, something that has frustrated Toon supporters enormously. Yet, on the evidence of Tuesday night, the Magpies may have finally found a player who can consistently deliver pinpoint crosses into the box from dead-ball situations. Florian Thauvin not only grabbed a goal less than three minutes into his full Newcastle debut, the Frenchman also provided the assists for Siem de Jong and Mike Williamson's headers from free-kicks (as well as one for Daryl Janmaat from open play). True, this was "only" against Northampton Town in the Capital One Cup Second Round, but the quality of those set-pieces would have been difficult for even Premier League defences to deal with. Due to the fact Newcastle also now have the likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic in their ranks - the Serbian producing a 16-yard bullet header that smashed off the Old Trafford woodwork last weekend - they may now actually be able to offer an attacking threat from set-pieces. It's early days yet - but the signs are promising, and Steve McClaren will hopefully have continued to work on set-pieces further during training this week.

NUFC editor for History graduate (University of Edinburgh) and NCTJ-trained journalist. I love sports, hopelessly following Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons. My pastimes include watching and attending sports matches religiously, reading spy books and sampling ales.