Changes needed to be made prior to our trip to West Ham, with our front three unbearably isolated at times, and we’ve seen huge improvements since.
We’ve not only secured back-to-back wins but scored 5 goals in our last two games – which is just one less than we’d scored in our previous TEN this season.
3 of those 5 goals over the past week have come from centre-backs and 4 from set pieces, although it seems that’s no coincidence, with The Chronicle revealing how we’ve been working on our set plays on the training pitch recently.
Here’s what Bruce has had to say about his decision to give Willems and Yedlin more license to get forward:
“We have been trying to get our wing-backs further up the pitch to join in because when you play this system (five-man defence) you can be a little bit short at the top end.”
“It was great for DeAndre to get up there.
“It was just what we needed at the right time.”
Yedlin got a goal on Saturday and was a useful outlet on the break, but it’s Jetro Willems who looks like he can really do consistent damage in the final third, with the Dutchman looking skilful, creative and capable of scoring from range.
The NUFC boss then talked about our newfound effectiveness from set-pieces after goals key for Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and Jamaal Lascelles over the past three games:
“It’s important when you play three of them how important set-pieces are.
“For all their good play in the first 20 minutes today, Bournemouth scored from a set-piece and a well-worked one at that, so sometimes you have to hold your hands up.
“As we have seen many times now, set-pieces are a big part of it, especially when we’ve got three centre-backs on the pitch. That gives you a little bit of an advantage.”
There’s a long way to go, but our improvement in attacking areas has been there for all to see over the past few weeks.
Not only that, it feels like we’ve stayed solid defensively while doing so, suggesting we’re finally getting that balance between keeping teams out and posing a genuine threat at the other end.
Hats off to Bruce. He’s taken plenty of criticism – and I’d be the first to admit I’ve thrown a fair bit his way – but he’s got things spot on over the past few weeks, taking a huge 7 points in what always looked set to be a crucial period against Wolves, West Ham and Bournemouth.
Here’s hoping this trend continues at old club Aston Villa in two weeks time!