Mikel Arteta retained the 4-2-3-1 that has proved to be successful for the Gunners in their last three games, although an evident trend was Willock pushing forward regularly, with Elneny operating in a single pivot.
Pressing & Defensive shape
Arsenal utilised a 4-4-2 press when Newcastle were deep in their own half, with Willian and Aubameyang operating as the two up top. Although the home side were predominantly in possession, they resorted to a 4-5-1 block when Newcastle had them pegged back.
Goal kicks & in possession
From goal kicks, a 4-2-3-1 was deployed with Elneny at times making it a three at the back. Progressing forward, Arsenal would shift into a 2-3-5 with one full-back tucking midfield whilst the other would overlap. The 2-3-5 also became a 2-2-6 with Willock advancing forward.
Possession was controlled by the home side, with Bruce unsurprisingly setting his team out to remain compact in a low block, with the onus solely on Arteta’s men to take the initiative. Coming in for the injured Gabriel Martinelli, Nelson started brightly, forcing Dubvraka into a comfortable stop in the opening minutes.
But as the half progressed, a common trend was apparent in Arsenal’s play. Passing was lacking zip along with players taking poor touches/decision making; these were aspects that resembled their first-half display. Pepe drifting centrally and delivering an excellent ball for Reiss, with the latter failing to seize upon the opportunity a prime example of this.
Regarding the performance from the visitors, Newcastle lacked pace/fluidity in their attack and failed to create anything substantial. Promising situations could have developed for the away side if they were able to capitalise on turnover opportunities presented to them.
Second half performance
After the interval, it was the Magpies who looked threatening, with Andy Carroll missing a golden opportunity to open the scoring. Moments later, the home side could have also taken the lead on two separate occasions. The first came through Aubameyang timing his run to perfection, with Elneny playing the ball in behind. The Gabonese international, however, lacked conviction with the chance. Pepe drifting to the left, also delivers a promising ball for Willock who forced a good stop.
When changes were made, a 2-3-5 with Xhaka and Elneny maintaining their positions in the double pivot was the primary set up. Tierney continued to advance forward and provide width along with Cedric overlapping when attacks stemmed through the right, making it a 6.
Although Granit’s presence certainly helped in midfield, Arsenal didn’t test Dubvraka as much as what they would have liked. But in the dying embers of the 90, it was actually Bernd Leno who was needed. The Germans tremendous stop ensured that extra time would commence.
Arsenal needed a spark and it eventually came from the Croydon De Bruyne. Intricate play between Lacazette, Saka and Smith Rowe, with the latter finishing the move of brilliantly.
The hosts put an end to the contest with Aubameyang’s goal, with Xhaka and Tierney instrumental in the build-up play. After receiving the ball from the Scotsman, Granit repays the favour with an excellent ball in behind, allowing Kieren to square the ball for Arsenal’s No.14 to convert.
23 years of age, 23 years as a Gooner. Arsenal runs through my veins and it pains me to see the current position and state of the club. Reading many football articles over the years has inspired me to write blogs containing Arsenal analysis. I’ve always wanted my fellow Gooners to be aware of my thoughts and opinions of ‘The Arsenal’ and thanks to Dave and Paul, I now have a platform which makes this possible.