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Arsenal do Arsenal style goals against Newcastle
Arsenal play without a safety net and show what Arteta's tactics are capable of producing.
One of my main impressions after watching Arsenal take on Newcastle United was that it felt like an Arsenal match against a lower-level team again (who knows how long we might be able to say that about Newcastle). Arsenal had most of the ball, they had the ball almost exclusively in the Newcastle half, and they dominated the percentage of the ball that was in the attacking third of the field.
Looking at the pass maps from this match you can also see that there was significantly more involvement from both fullbacks in going forward (Tomiyasu had 37 touches in the attacking third, 10 more than his previous high for Arsenal), Arsenal committed to the attack even if that meant that they were playing with less of a safety net.
This style led to a couple of Newcastle counter-attack attempts (7 opportunities according to Wyscout), but thankfully Arsenal were able to handle them quite well. With the team recovering well to keep a numerical advantage on defense one the first and second, Gabriel bossing Joelinton on the third, Nuno Tavares going shoulder to shoulder with Callum Wilson on the fourth who resorted to diving, the team recovering again well on the fifth, on the sixth Sambi counter presses well to slow down and cut out the dangerous passing chances.
The final chance is another example of some good counter-pressing to slow down Newcastle, to allow Arsenal to get numbers back. Generally, I thought the pressing in this match was good, and the last couple are good examples of even if pressing doesn't lead to winning the ball back it can be key to making sure that the team can recover its shape.
All the above is good but what really made me happy was to see Arsenal do Arsenal "style" goals against a deep block.
The play starts with Newcastle playing out from the back, some good pressure from Aubameyang leads to a pass being deflected and being recovered by Tavares. Arsenal then work the ball up the field, probing for an opening with 11 passes, the 12th pass goes out wide to Smith Rowe that opens up an run from the half-space for Saka, with Smith Rowe taking up the half-space position nicely, for the return pass that goes into Tavares who had taken up the position of a forward who takes one touch and finds Saka making the third man run to slot home.
This goal checked a lot of boxes for things I like to see. Playing through the middle to destabilize a defense, going from inside to outside to take advantage of the space created, players playing in fluid positions with the ability to interchange, quick one and two-touch passing. Basically, it had everything you want from possession play and finished with a great goal.
This goal starts with the Callum Wilson dive after good defending from Tavares, some methodical passing in the back to draw Newcastle forward. Ben White driving forward with the ball then laying off to Tomiyasu who plays a sumptuous ball to Martinelli.
Martinelli is ready to make the run as soon as the ball gets to Tomiyasu, who plays a perfect chipped pass over the defender but the most impressive part is Martinelli's ability to track the ball over his shoulder and time things where he got this on the volley.
This was a special finish.
This goal I think also showed what Arteta wants from his slow buildup. The slow play at the back draws players forward, White uses his ability to carry the ball to get past the first line of defense and force the second line to commit to him, that opens up the one on one for Tomiyasu to play a great ball to Martinelli making a great run. The pass and finish won't be this good every week but doing things like this will lead to chances.
It was JUST Newcastle but this was a good performance from Arsenal and that is an important step for the team.