Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side host Newcastle United on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Newcastle United have experienced a resurgence in recent weeks, and last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea shows the Magpies are capable of brave defending, clinical finishing, and a well-executed tactical plan.
"Newcastle didn’t press high up the pitch, they waited for Chelsea to bring the ball across the halfway line"
Against Chelsea, Newcastle didn’t press high up the pitch, they waited for Chelsea to bring the ball across the halfway line.
However, throughout the first half Alan Pardew encouraged his team to keep a high defensive line, beckoning them up the pitch from his technical area. It meant Newcastle restricted Chelsea’s space in midfield, and Arsenal can expect a similar approach this time around, so long balls over the top of the Newcastle defence could be the best way to create chances.
Pardew generally selects a 4-2-3-1 formation, although when his side spend long periods without possession, this looks more like a 4-4-1-1. The wide midfielders get back behind the ball and support their full backs, and Pardew depends upon speedy players to launch quick counter-attacks and prevent his side from being under pressure for sustained periods.
Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini were both excellent against Chelsea, although with the former suspended and the latter an injury doubt, there could be changes. Mike Williamson could start, with the underrated Paul Dummett capable of moving inside from left back.
Right back Daryl Janmaat was Mathieu Debuchy’s replacement at Newcastle and has enjoyed a good debut campaign - he likes sticking tight to opponents and intercepting the ball. Expect the full backs to tuck in narrow when defending, inviting Arsenal to cross, while Janmaat is given more attacking freedom.
The central midfield partnership is likely to be Cheick Tiote and Jack Colback. Tiote is a pure destroyer, who puts in some tough tackles - and often finds himself in the referee’s notebook - while Colback is a battler who can surge forward into attack.
Up front, Pardew has a choice between Ayoze Perez and Papiss Cisse. He used both excellently against Chelsea, starting with Perez who worked the channels - particularly the left - by coming towards play, then spinning and using his pace in behind.
For the second half, Perez moved to the flank and Cisse was introduced as a penalty-box poacher, and promptly scored both goals.
On Newcastle’s other flank, Sammy Ameobi is talented physically and can thump dangerous balls across the face of the goal, while Remy Cabella is a more technically-gifted creator and dribbler.
Newcastle seem particularly effective in the second half - they’ve won their last four home games, which were all goalless at half-time.
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