Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side face Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Newcastle have made a disappointing start to their Premier League season, collecting just two points from their opening three matches. Their underlying statistics also hint at unconvincing performances, having averaged the fewest shots in the division and the third-least share of possession.
New boss Steve McClaren will hope this is simply because Newcastle have faced well organised, possession-based teams in Southampton, Swansea and Manchester United - and, in that sense, those matches are good preparation for a home game with Arsenal.
McClaren has named a settled team so far this season, only making changes for the goalless draw at Old Trafford because of injury and suspension. At right back, Daryl Janmaat should return from his one-game ban (after being bamboozled into committing two bookable offences by Swansea winger Jefferson Montero) and be up against Alexis Sanchez.
This will allow Chancel Mbemba to revert to his favoured centre back position - the newcomer is an all-action battler who is keen to dive into tackles, but has looked assured so far. Fabricio Coloccini and Massadio Haidara will complete the back four, protecting Dutchman Tim Kul in goal.
McClaren has used Vurnon Anita as his primary holding midfielder in a 4-3-3. Now into his third season at Newcastle, the Dutchman has rarely enjoyed this level of responsibility, and while at 5ft 8in he lacks the physical presence of other players in his position, his intelligence without the ball and positive distribution means he’s capable of excelling in that role. As his performance in this fixture last season showed, he plays more straight, forward passes than you expect for a holding midfielder.
Jack Colback plays a no-nonsense role ahead to his left, while Georginio Wijnaldum is an extremely technically gifted box-to-box midfielder who will take the game to Arsenal.
Momo Sissoko was injured last weekend but should return on the right - he’s excellent at driving forward on the counter-attack - while the left winger should be Gabriel Obertan, more of a classic, tricky winger who dribbles past full-backs. He’ll look to supply Newcastle’s centre forward with crosses: the fiery Alexander Mitrovic started at Manchester United, but regular goalscorer Papiss Cisse seems more likely to lead the line this Saturday.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.