Ten steps: how Newcastle coped with Arsenal in the centre of midfield (whilst playing a 4-4-2)

November 8, 2010

Not many sides keep a clean sheet against Arsenal. Newcastle’s 1-0 win at the Emirates was only the second time Arsene Wenger’s side have failed to score this season.

Note – this article originally featured photos from the match, which have had to be removed for copyright reasons.

In most wins in football there is an element of the victorious side being good, and the losing side being bad. Arsenal’s poor performance cannot be overlooked – the whole team were sluggish with their passing and not creative enough.

Cesc Fabregas gave the ball away far too often and didn’t look fit, and on the rare occasions he plays badly, Arsenal struggle.

Still, one shouldn’t overlook the performance of Newcastle United. Not only did they manage to contain Arsenal in the centre of the pitch, they managed to do so whilst playing two strikers, albeit with one (Shola Ameobi) playing practically as a midfielder, moving goalside of Arsenal’s midfield when Newcastle lost the ball.

They restricted Arsenal to just three shots on target in the game, despite the fact Arsene Wenger’s side were trailing for 45 minutes, in desperate need of a goal.

How did they do it? Here’s ten key points.

1. Tracking Fabregas deep…

2. …and up the pitch

3. Defending narrow

4. Keeping narrowness in possession

5. Barton defensive work

6. Compact

7. Link player

8. Communication

9. Winning tackles

Another basic thing Newcastle did very well. The challenges around Newcastle’s penalty area, in particular, is a sea of blue – 23 out of 28 tackles in Newcastle’s third of the pitch were successful.

by Guardian Chalkboards

10. Calm passing in the centre of the pitch

Tiote was not just a defensive battler, he was composed and reliable on the ball, misplacing only one pass in the game

by Guardian Chalkboards

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