Newcastle v Arsenal 8 Observations including BK’s MotM

With only four/five of our best Arsenal-11 starting the match, it was not going to be easy to get all three points. Laca, Bels, Holding, Pepe, Ozil, Tierney and Luiz did not make our starting eleven (all with good reason), and it showed. The team looked rusty and lacked an attacking edge but it worked hard and had most of the initiative at the Barcodes’ home ground, and that goes a long way. 1-0 to the Arsenal, three points and a clean sheet; let’s not look this gift-horse too deep in the mouth!

Aubameyang bezorgt Arsenal goede start na slippertje Willems

Eight observations from Newcastle v Arsenal:

  1. Unlike the Chavs v MU in the later game, Arsenal did not play at a high tempo and try to overpower the opponent in their own half from the start. We sat back, protected the back four and tried to pass our way to the Newcastle box. We lacked cohesion and the tempo was too low to hurt NU, but we also managed to take the initiative away from an equally rusty and cohesion-lacking opponent. The crowd was quiet and the whole game was a bit of damp squib and this suited our starting 11 very well.
  2. We played both Xhaka and Guendouzi in the DM pivot and it sort of worked, at least from a defensive point of view. Willock played in the hole and did his best to connect the often quite deep sitting ‘back-six’ with the three attackers, Mkhi, Auba and Nelson. However, the balance in midfield was not great and against stronger opponents we will not get away with this. This is btw no reflection on the individual performances by Xhaka, Guendouzi or Willock: all put in a good shift and had plenty quality moments. Unfortunately, Xhaka and Guendouzi did not support Willock enough as neither of them did a proper box to box job on the day, and seem to want to play a similar role in the team. With Torreira and Ozil hopefully available soon Emery will have more/better weapons at his disposal to the get midfield balance right.
  3. Willock did get a lot of support from Mkhi and I liked both their involvements in the game. Unfortunately, the Armenian is badly lacking in form and his final ball was often overhit and played with too much haste. But the form will come again and at least Mkhi is putting in a decent shift.
  4. There were only two big highlights in the whole game and that was Ainsley’s great cross after a well-anticipated interception on the right flank at the half way line AND Auba’s fine ‘Bergkampesque’ first touch and steely finish to score the winner. AMN’s well-measured cross had pace but this was taking out of it by the bounce it had before it reached Auba; this gave our official MotM the chance to control the ball first and then slot it home. It was a rare moment of beauty and Auba showed us why he is so important for us with that calm moment of quality.
  5. Tierney and Bellerin may well become our first team full backs once they become fully fit, but both AMN and Nacho really put in a shift and both were contenders for BK’s MotM. Both worked hard and tried to add value to all areas: defence, midfield and attack. But My MotM ‘award’ also goes to Auba. He was by no means without fault and being the lone CF does not really suit him, I think, but he worked hard for the team and took his chance when it came – and that is why we travelled home with three precious points in the bag.
  6. Of course this would not have happened without our defence keeping a clean sheet. It is fair to say the Magpies did not give them a lot too worry about, but the quartet of AMN, Sok, Chambers and Nacho, and GK Leno, worked together well and dealt adequately with the few set-pieces that were thrown at them. I wonder whether we will play an easier away game this season, though, so I will not be going overboard as yet, but the Sok-Chambers combo wasn’t too shabby today.
  7. Nelson worked hard and there were a few moments of quality, so he should be content with his performance. More will be needed from him but, as always, we need to give our young players time and keep our expectations quite low. The managers will be able to analyse Nelson’s performance with him, and I am sure Fab Freddie will help him to progress further this season. What I like(d) about Martinelli is his confidence and desire to be involved and get stuck in from the moment he crosses the longest white line. I don’t have that feeling (especially regarding confidence) with Nelson as yet, but it will be a joy to watch both of them develop further this season.
  8. It was a bit of a worry that the subs – Ceballos, Pepe and Martinelli – did not make much difference in the game. We had just scored a precious goal of course and the team were trying to find a balance between protecting the win and getting another goal (which we usually really, really need), but we played even more chaotically after all three were on the pitch. This is no reflection on the individual performances as all had good moments, but as a team we were really not looking organised and purposeful in the latter part of the second half. It is early season of course and it did not harm us this time round, but with games against Burnley, Pool and Spuds coming up, we must get more organised and attuned to each other.

By TotalArsenal.

34 thoughts on “Newcastle v Arsenal 8 Observations including BK’s MotM

  • Hard to argue on the Auba selection TA, for MoTM. In addition to the obvious– PEA worked hard up front; chasing the ball across the pitch causing NU defenders to often clear into the seats. Those turnovers go unattributed statistically.

    But here? I’m going to return to my theme from the previous thread. Calum Chambers’ presence in the back-6 (more so, the back-7, with Leno’s steely showing on a pair of saves). Looking at that back-7 on paper, as a lineup? It was almost the same group that turned in dicey performance-after-performance last season. The only difference today– being CC21. Now, I am not going to prattle on about Calum being a first-team CB going forward. Just feel on this day– there is no overstating an away result of 3pts– with a clean sheet– without giving Chambers a shout-out as the difference-maker in the defense.

    For Arsenal to have a successful season? All that’s required is calm, adequate defending. Probably much stouter when the competition rises in quality. But for today– Unai got the back-end of the team’s selection right.


  • I hear you, JW, and am sympathetic to your assessment of Chambers’ contributions. I think this is reflected to some extent in my review. I definitely did not miss Mustafi in the CB-combo…

    But NU were poor and we sat deep to protect the defence for which we could have paid a price today if it wasn’t for the AMN-Auba moment of sheer quality…

    You will here the B-word a lot from me this season. Balance is key.

  • That’s a fine summation TA. I think I’m with JW and think that Chambers deserves more than a pat on the back as without his steadfast defensive work Auba’s moment of brilliance would have meant nought. However Chambers defensive work would have meant nought without Auba’s goal. I’m obviously typing in circles so I vote for joint MOM’s.

  • You two. Joints and threesomes?! Need to rate this Blog “R” for ‘racy’… 😉


  • All

    So, highlights and a few scans of first half only on the player so far for me. But, some thoughts and feedback comments:

    a. I think the defense was not the same as last year. Yes, xhaka and guend… BUT, only Sok of the back 4. Chambers is back, Nacho was out a lot, and AMN wasnt around much last year either, really, so…

    b. I think the back 4 did not give away high quality or high percentage chances today. That was last year’s major flaw. Whether from being cut apart on the counter from one end and being left high and dry, or otherwise, they were not giving up really big chances. Which is as it should be and all you can ask for. The one possible one from Lintott(?) was one he created himself as much as anything and Chambers in particular fronted him well forcing a shot from further out with less goal area in view.

    c. Was very impressed with AMN, less with Reiss-Nelson

    d. Not concerned with how the big-3 of Pepe, Ceballos and Martinelli looked coming on. Why? Well, its damn near practice one, let alone game one, so I would expect lack of connection and not surprised

    e. Same with defense. I think AMN may give Bellerin a run for it, and Tierney and Monreal the same.

    f. I think Chambers learned a lot at Fulham. Definitely more poise there than I can recall in past

    More later perhaps

    cheers — jgc

  • TA, I seem to have watched the game with your pair of eyes. Nearly identical.

    I believe the key to our clean sheet was that we controlled the game, patient with our passing and concentrating on keeping the shape. It’s a good way to play for a team with prolific goal scorers. CONTOL THE GAME AND WAIT FOR THE MOMENT(S) THAT MUST COME. In this match however we had only Auba as our prolific. We need a min of two of them (we’ve got three .. Auba, Laca and Pepe). Emery might want to be playing 2 of them at a time to maintain a good balance in the midfield. The back line did their job well because our MF was balanced.

    What we lacked in this game was a creator. In other words I missed Ozil. However.Emery seems to prefer a hard working #10 for control of the game preferring chance creation to come from the wide areas. With respect to this tactics Willock (early days) imo, is ahead of Ceballos.

  • PE

    Interesting thoughts. I think UE put out what he could. Ozil wasn’t available, so … I didnt miss Kola myself.

    I am not worried either about not playing fast. Conditions were “average” and a makeshift lineup doesnt reward fast play in that condition when players havent really gelled as a unit. In December perhaps as others come on board.

    So, for me, his tactics were good. I.e. keep it simple, control game, don’t give up anything stupid (a lot of last year, no?), and your time will / should come (to paraphrase what you said).

    cheers — jgc

  • Most are still under valuing Chambers. They are still seeing the Chambers of 2 seasons ago. He was sent on loan to be just what he is. At Fulham he played all the matches and grew. He was voted their best player which most don’t respect because Fulham was relegated. Fulham had good players eg Sari but they over recruited (10nos.) and found it difficult to gel in time. By the time they gelled it was too late for them to dig themselves out of relegation.

    Monreal is another player we are seeing through the prism of his age. He was one of the best players yesterday. That his last ditch headed clearance had a lot of experience backing it. His footballing personality never projects him as spectacular. He is much better than we credit him.

    M-Niles is so good with the ball … maybe a bit too silky as a defender for the peace of my mind. He however needs to improve his defensive reading of the game as well as his ability in the air. His team play is well ahead of Bell’s but I’d still give it to the latter.

  • It appeared to me (early days) that Pepe was a bit too restrained when he came in. You know that kind of thing … Newman trying to blend with his new environment …. the controlled play. He should be encourage that he was recruited for what he is …. a point of explosion! I want him fully back as himself by our 3rd match of the season against Liv to pin Robertson back (Liv marauding left back).

  • PE, you describe us as an Italian team hahaha. Is that the way we are going to play footie in the PL?

    But agreed with your analysis and it got us what we wanted yesterday. I reckon Willock is ahead of Guendouzi and Ceballos is Mesut’s understudy, but let’s see how things develop over the next few games.

  • I know that when we win we tend to be more positive and quite the opposite when we lose… As happy as I am with the win, when analysing the game I have to be honest and recognise that we had two shots on goal and one of those went in. The lack of attacking prowess was a worry and if it had not been for that moment of rare quality in the game – the one between AMN and PEA – we would have dropped two points. So like all I am happy with the three points and the defensive performance but there is a lot to be done to reach ‘top four level’. Getting players fit is of course key and it will be good to play the next game at THOF! A work in progress.

  • Observations are spot on, TA.

    It was always going to be difficult to start a new season with basically Arsenal B, especially in positions that are key for the ball transition (CM, CAM, RB, LB). That’s why three points from this game are all that we should take from this game, including a clean sheet in the first away game of the season. Yes, it’s Newcastle, a team that I see in bottom three at the end of the season (imagine swapping Benitez for Bruce) but you still have to beat them on the rainy first weekend of the season.

  • TA

    I’m less sanguine perhaps? My thoughts now I’ve watched:

    A. Toon parked the bus and we controlled and probed well. They were mid season disciplined about it and thus less chances on goal.

    B. There were 2-3 others deflected off target, or Mhkis blast over.

    C. There would have been at least 2 more on goal and perhaps a goal but Mkhi was very poor on final balls. When Ozil is back and Ceballos, Pepe et al are up to speed, well …

    D. We had a patchwork attack out there, less so for D, and it showed a bit.

    E. We controlled with patience and, critically, confidence I don’t recall from last year.

    F. Less all out pressing (see A too) but seems UE has moderated that all out chasing and we did all last year that **IMO** left us often out of shape and overly open to fast counters.

    Cheers — jgc

  • Further:

    A. Chambers was so poised, looked a pro. Sok too was better

    B. We did better penetrating the bus than I recall most of last year.

    C. We were more physical, especially Willock and AMN, than normal and thus not bullied, which I also recall some of IMO.

    Cheers — jgc

  • Cheers jgc, one sees more when watching the game after it has been played and is informed about it. Appreciate the positives you have come up with.

    Looking fwd to the Burnley home game on Saturday. CoyGs

  • Btw, I was doing a bit of a research and realized that we haven’t won two opening games of the season since 2009-10.

    Some of you may recall that we started off with a 6-1 trouncing of Everton away and convincing 4-1 beating of Bolton at home.

    What I recall is, I wasn’t too happy with our defensive display in either game and suggested that better opponents would have scored more goals. Indeed, despite having one of the finest Wengerball teams in terms of attacking football (83 goals), we couldn’t defend for life. Indeed, we lost two next games in Manchester while conceding combined six in the process.

    Now we might get six points from two opening games before two big games.

  • Yep. Amazing start of the season it was but we were defensively poor in big games – four defeats to Chavs and Scum with GD 2-10.

  • Hi, all. A lots been said already and I daresay, pretty much captured whatever I may have had to say (other than my in-game and post-game entries in the match day thread).
    I’d say we had 7 potential first team players missing, if you add Bellerin to the list TA put up; that’s saying a lot for the depth of the team and the controlled tempo yesterday suggests it was a part of the game plan to keep the shape and just get the win, no matter how ugly. Getting a win out in Tyne on the first (game) day of the new season will do the boys a world of good.

    We were not very cohesive, but I think that will come with time and as the new boys settle in. Willock was magnificent and has reacted well to the confidence reposed in him; Torreira or Ceballos May come to be preferred to him after a few games but this will let him know he stands a chance in that midfield. As far as I am concerned, he is ahead of say Elneny now and there will be occasion where he will be preferred to Ozil, depending on the game/opponent.

    Auba worked hard; don’t underestimate the times he’s gone to challenge the keeper, thus harrying him into hasty kick-outs, with many going out of play. I can tell you for free, nothing disconcerts a keeper as a forward bearing down on them as they prepare to launch the ball forward. Some praise goes to Chambers as well. I did say here he is ahead of Holding, for me, but that’s a controversial point, I know. He just needs to feel the trust of everyone around and we will have an England CB on our hands.

    Despite the speed of the game at old Trafford, I am convinced we will up our game as we meet such opposition. We looked deliberate yesterday and for me, it’s the mark of a team with a mission. Let’s bed in Laca, Kolasinac, Pepe, Ceballos and Luiz gradually and we have the makings of a strong side, as the season chugs along.

  • Thanks JW – That was an extremely interesting read. Frankly I worry about our teams teams defensive failings and fear the game at Anfield in two weeks time.

  • I’m one of the people who has never had too much time for Jose Mourinho however I just listened to his analysis on Sky Sports and I must say I was very impressed with his knowledge and deep understanding of football. He was not the harried rash individual who we witnessed as a manager on game day instead he was cool calm and collected – an excellent, logical analyst.

  • Busy weekend for me but now I’ve seen the match, and… I agree, TA, about the gift horse aspect of this match. It was like pre-season–except we get 3 points(!!)…and, the fact, that I didn’t know the result–nor a bunch of our players (and most of the guys the Toon put out as well), kept me at least a bit engaged.

    I have to ask, however, what Emery is after? Getting the broader squad involved seems good and the (extremely tedious) playing out of the back eventually worked… The opponent got lured into believing they might nick something from the match AND got sloppy playing it into our half. Boom and boom and the score was settled. Nil-nil, however, I think, might have been the fairer result. (Also, at this moment, putting some money on Toonies going down seems a decent bet…) If there’s any suggestion that Arsenal values attacking football I didn’t see it. And, the idea that we deconstructed any sort of parked bus seems quite wishful (to me). Bait and switch (lure ’em forward and spring on the counter) seems our ONLY idea.

    But, what (TF) do I know?… (That said, I think Gooners should beware of “result-creep,” making smaller bits look OK simply because we won…)

    Better vs Burnley, I pray… At this point, I think watching on tape delay (it’s a 4:30 am kickoff out here) makes A LOT of sense…

  • Cheers gents, it seems we are broadly agreeing and all want to move forward to the next game. Luckily that is just in five days from now.

  • Burnley play the parked bus method too, and we need to be at our best to play quick passes in their box.

    Newcastle were playing deep and countering, as most teams in the league this season do. We need to play our own pressing game and not defend deeply like the mid table teams.

  • Nic,

    IMO, I thought we did just that, really. I think Mkhi’s very off day and final balls, there were several, were very poor and cost us goals. For the rest, having Willock and others on there, some went very well, others a touch more as expected, didnt help, but there was a lack of gel.

    That all said, we defended the counters very well against a team I thought was playing well for its level so to speak. They could easily go worse (Newcastle) in the next games, than they did vs Arsenal.

    We will however see and all predictions will be moot once it happens — jgc

  • Yes Prof.. the problem was with the players not knowing each other or the tactics well enough. The worst was Mkhi, and while Reiss Nelson had a shaky start he got better and better.

    Willock and the rest had a good and solid game but i feel that our pressing was pretty stoic and irregular. Better pressing like Citeh is the way to go. See how they destroyed the hammers? Literally turned them into hamsters in my opinion.

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