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Bruce targeting strong start to Premier League opener

Written by Luke Vinton

Head coach Steve Bruce is hopeful Newcastle United can begin their 2019/20 Premier League campaign in a positive manner ahead of Sunday's clash against Arsenal (kick-off 2pm BST).

United go head-to-head with the Gunners at St. James' Park (kick-off 2pm BST), with Bruce set to take charge of his first competitive fixture for the Magpies since joining the club three weeks ago.

An avid supporter of Newcastle during his early years, Bruce is excited for the task ahead with his boyhood club as the Magpies hoping to get off to a flying start with a first opening day victory in seven years, following a 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur during the 2012/13 campaign. 

The 58-year-old added: "I'm looking forward to it. To be given the opportunity is one of the highlights of a long career. It's right up there with anything I've ever done. To go and manage this great club is unique to me and I'm delighted to be here.

"As soon as you walk through the door here, there's a certain pressure on you - but that is why I'm here. We couldn't have wished for a more difficult start in Arsenal but let's hope we can get off and running and give something for the fans to shout about.

"We've done as much as we possibly can. I think going out to China helped enormously even though we were there for two-three days. We got to know people instantly and I think that was important."

Following the conclusion of the transfer window on Thursday, club record signing Joelinton, French ace Allan Saint-Maximin, local hero Andy Carroll and defenders Jetro Willems and Emil Krafth have all arrived on Tyneside this summer.

Although Carroll remains out on the sidelines with an ankle injury, all four of the new additions could be set to make their Premier League debuts this weekend.

Bruce said: "A lot of people have put a lot of work in. To bring in the five (players) that we did in three weeks is quite remarkable. I think it's given everybody a bit of excitement which the club needs and I'm delighted with what we've done.

"We've addressed the top end of the pitch which has been vitally important with the players that have left. All in all, I'm very, very pleased.

“I couldn’t be any more delighted with what we’ve brought in. We’ve brought in some very good players who I’m sure the supporters will enjoy watching."

Newcastle face an Arsenal side who reached the Europa League final last term as well as finishing fifth in the top flight under Unai Emery.

And while Bruce admitted his hopes for an expansive style of play with the Magpies, the Corbridge-born coach remains wary of the Gunners' attacking qualities.

He said: "You are only ever as good as your strikers. You can defend as much as you can but if you have someone at the top end of the pitch who can score you a goal, then you're always in a game. 

"When we come up against the big teams, and there's no bigger than Arsenal, then defensively we're going to have to be spot on but I do think it's vitally important that you cause your opponents a threat and we know we've got that threat. 

“Make no mistake - they were Europa League finalists (last season). They’re a big club and have been for years. At the top end of the pitch, they have some really top players.

"We are aware of that and, yesterday, they strengthened in their defensive area. I expect Arsenal to be very good. I think they have had a wonderful (transfer) window. When you play Arsenal, you always know it’s going to be a tough game."

"I'm looking forward to it. To be given the opportunity is one of the highlights of a long career. It's right up there with anything I've ever done. To go and manage this great club is unique to me and I'm delighted to be here."

Steve Bruce
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