Well what a time to play Arsenal! NUFC face a Gunners side that are off the back of 4 wins in their last 4 Premier League games, amassing 16 goals. A 7-1 demolition of Blackburn and a 5-3 comeback v Spurs the main reason for those goals, and 4 nights ago they managed to tear up the Italian Champions, Milan, 3-0.
Newcastle approach the game in the proverbial ‘sticky patch’ – 2 points from the last 3 games, 3 scored and 8 conceded. Historically in the Premier League, NUFC have met Arsenal 35 times, winning 9, drawing 10 and losing 16.
The last 2 meetings between these two have ended in draws, both at SJP – a 0-0 in August and that cracking 4-4 comeback in February last year, and the last 10 Premier League games between the two have seen 5 draws in total. Away to the Wenger’s men, Newcastle have gained 4 wins and 7 losses from 17 fixtures.
Arsenal under the microscope
Arsenal have the best average possession rating, alongside City, in the Premier League currently – 58.1%. At the Emirates alone, it is 60.1%, which is the best in the division for home games.
They concede the lowest shots per game on average alongside City and Chelsea, and only Spurs and City get more shots on target per game in the league at present – 6.3.
The Gunners are the ‘top dribblers’ in England’s elite league – 9.4 successful dribbles per game they produce.
Only Man Utd have scored more goals this season in the Premier League than Arsenal from open play – 41 (NUFC 26).
No team has scored more goals than Arsenal from a counter attack. With 8 so far, they are 3 ahead of next placed Manchester City. NUFC have notched just the 1 (Obertan v Blackburn).
Only Aston Villa (2) have scored less goals this season from set plays though – just 5 they’ve managed.
Arsenal have score the joint least number of penalties in the PL alongside 5under1and, Liverpool, WBA & Norwich – 1. They also haven’t been the beneficiary of a single own goal so far compared to Newcastle who have with 4.
The Gunners attack predominately from their right hand side – 37% of their attacks have been initiated there and 21% of their shots (only Chelsea have more).
They have the highest percentage of goals from inside the 18 yard box in the entire league (56%), which means they have lowest from outside – 37%.
What can you say about Robin van Persie that hasn’t already been said? The Dutchman has notched 25 Premier League goals already and 8 assists. Only Wayne Rooney has more shots per game than him – he’s had 120 so far; Arsenal’s next most is Theo Walcott who has managed just 65. And, is if all those shots and goals weren’t enough, RVP has created most chances at the club too – 65.
Alex Song is an underrated player at the Gunners. He is the top ‘dribble stopper’ in the whole of the Premier League (1.6 per game) and he also produces more through balls per game than any other top division player – 0.7.
Mikel Arteta will be the one to tick Arsenal over. He is the 2nd top passer per game in the league behind Yaya Toure with 78.6 and he makes more passes in the attacking half than anyone else at Arsenal.
Laurent Koscielny is a very good defender. He has participated in, and won, more tackles at Arsenal than anyone else and he has won the most total and headed clearances, as well as the most ground duels.
How to win this one
Newcastle will have to use similar tactics to those at the beginning of the season. Arsenal are prone to set piece attacks so with Ryan Taylor and Yohan Cabaye, NUFC need to play with quality when the opportunity to get the ball in the box arises.
Also, Arsenal can be exposed from time to time at full back. Which ever players start on those flanks, they have got to be positive-minded and be prepared to have a go at getting past their men. Ben Arfa would be ideal for this, especially on NUFC’s right as Arsenal don’t possess the same attacking threat on their left hand side as they do their right.
Newcastle have got to be prepared to defend Arsenal’s counter. They have more goals than anyone in the league from those situations this season and in players like Walcott, they have the pace and energy to hurt you every time.
Speaking of Walcott, NUFC have got to be defensively sound on their left hand side. The aforementioned stats show Arsenal’s keenness to attack down there and Walcott and Sagna have struck a great understanding of late. The graphic below shows the chances created by Arsenal in their last 4 PL games and the frequency of creation from the right.
There are no two ways about this one – it’s going to be tough. The Magpies are unbeaten in their last couple of games, but it has been the manner of the points picked up that has frustrated the SJP faithful; at home, Newcastle really should be doing better.
Chances will come few and far between on Monday, as Arsenal will see the majority of the ball, so when they do creep up, Ba, Cisse & Co. have got to be on top form to ensure NUFC take something away….a mega difficult task!
NUFC_Stats prediction: 3-1 Arsenal