Tactical Points from Arsenal's convincing win over Newcastle
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
A comfortable and controlled performance in all departments of the game but profligacy in front of goal was the main reason why the goals scored column wasn’t higher. Getting a positive goal difference is important especially after the early losses and the Liverpool thrashing so this is perhaps the biggest takeaway from the game.
Playmakers are very important for chance creation against low-block sides, especially at home, so it was good to see Odegaard brought back into the lineup. Persisting with the same players that struggled against Liverpool is perhaps a show of faith in the younger players from Arteta.
There needed to be a response from the team after the Anfield result but the team came out very slow out of the blocks with too many errors in possession and a lack of cohesion in the press. Odegaard got into some great positions between the lines but poor touches prevented the Norwegian from making an impact.
The buildup moved from central areas to the sides to open up the Newcastle defence but ball movement was generally very slow. Tomiyasu not being aggressive enough with the overlapping to break up the double team on Saka as well as trigger-happy Tavares only added to the frustrations. Smith-Rowe didn’t seem to be too aggressive against the full-back and was unable to get into the game despite Tavares seeing a lot of the ball.
Without the ball, Arsenal’s defenders were very aggressive on Saint-Maximin. Preventing time and space on the ball is key to stopping the Frenchman from going on his trademark mazy runs. White and Gabriel seemed to really complement each other in terms of keeping the shape with White being aggressive and trying to win the ball early whereas Gabriel holds his own against the forwards in the wide areas.
With the buildup being too static in the first half, the emphasis at the start of the second was to bring in more movement off the ball with Saka, in particular, drifting to the left to link-up play. With more movement and the quick one-twos coming into play, the goal threat improved. Tomiyasu was far more adventurous with his forays into the other half to back up Saka or Odegaard to create the overloads consistently.
Smith-Rowe needs to start being more assertive in terms of asking for the ball from his teammates to get into the game as well as attacking his opposing full-back when playing out wide. Tavares is always backing him up by either overlapping or underlapping so the spaces are there to exploit and be creative.