If that was us playing with the “gloves off”, I dread to think what we would’ve looked like tonight with the gloves on.
The display was a typical abject poor show and the result keeps deep in the midst of the relegation fight. It really feels like this is only going to one way if Mike Ashley doesn’t come to his senses and sack Steve Bruce.
The reality of what we’re facing is scary and we need people with power to wake up and recognise that. It needs to be known that the two times we were relegated and then promoted before are not common things and I can’t see any single way that we could recover from this if we go down again.
Steve Bruce had said after the Sheffield United match that he wants the players to mirror himself and I want to reiterate to him that they are! He has a losing and negative mentality, and it is seeping further and further into the players.
I’m becoming desperate now. I’m desperate for something to happen somewhere because can I only see this going one way and it frightens me. The change needs to happen now. If this is delayed any further then there’s only one outcome and it doesn’t involve Steve Bruce becoming a managerial mastermind.
Bruce made eight changes from the Sheffield United match to make the team more attacking…in theory, at least.
Given that we had seen all of these players play in these positions before and play poorly (barring Darlow, M Longstaff and Wilson), I wasn’t filled with hope that suddenly Shelvey was going to run the midfield or that Joelinton was going to suddenly shine on the left, but it was certainly interesting to see that there was more positivity in the player picks than the match before.
I remember Bruce making a similar statement after a dire 0-0 draw with Brighton in 2019. He decided that now was the time to be completely attacking and dangerous, so naturally we lost 5-0 to Leicester. It really felt like he’d just got it the wrong way round. With Leicester’s quality, a more defensive display would have been sensible and a more attacking display against Brighton would have made sense. Starting this match, after the calamitous passive display against Sheffield United, I felt a big sense of déjà vu.
The key wasn’t to be “more attacking” or “less defensive”, it was a case of being more organised and planning to win the game. Bruce rightly spoke about the need for passion and pride in play but did he recognise that he had to instil that with pride in planning?
From the outset, it certainly seemed to be the case. There seemed to be a shape and there seemed to be a plan. One thing that was certainly prevalent was the clear sign of players chasing and harrying Arsenal.
Within 15 minutes, Arsenal started turning the screw though and Aubameyang missed a sitter in front of an empty goal and then slowly but surely Arsenal started turning the pressure up. Was this to be the result of Bruce doing it his way or was this a case of surviving a few waves with resolute defending before asserting ourselves again?
23 minutes in, we had our first attempt on the Arsenal goal with Almiron running from the halfway line on what seemed to be a promising counter attack but it petered out with indecision and ultimately a harmless shot off target.
One commentator, around 30 minutes, described the match as being under assault but that every now and then we stuck out “a jab”. Ultimately, with only little amount of time left to go, Bruce’s way seemed very much like the way we had seen plenty of times this season and last with the difference being that we were fighting back with as much effectiveness of a magpie fighting a cannon.
Darlow wasn’t being peppered with shots, which was a bonus, but the standing around and lame chasing had started to creep in. If we got around the opposition box, players seemed lost, dithered and in some cases nicked the ball off each other.
With all the positive planning, had they discussed what to do when they got near the thing with the net?
The end of the half left a question mark over the match and Newcastle. There were positive differences and some intent but, as mentioned by the commentators, there were still some of the same old passivity sneaking in.
Half-time and it resulted in the damning stat that this was now the 7th time in 18 Premier League matches in which we hadn’t had a shot on target in the first half…
The second 45 started scarily with a powerful shot from Lacazette forcing a brilliant save from Darlow and it didn’t take long afterwards for Aubameyang to fire Arsenal into the lead after Newcastle had overcommitted and Shelvey had poorly performed on a corner once again.
Our response to the goal wasn’t great and, if anything, Arsenal just kept pressing for a second, which they got on the 60th minute through a smashing goal by Saka.
Everything had become very familiar and our attacking prowess was completely null. Turns out that playing two at the top really is pointless if you can’t get the ball to them!
Bruce recognised the pointlessness of the two up front on the 68th minute when he subbed on Jacob Murphy for the Angel of the North impersonator, Andy Carroll, but by this point everything felt cemented (like Andy Carroll’s feet). What Bruce failed to recognise is that Carroll may have become useful had the player known for crossing the ball in Jacob Murphy had been on earlier and had been on with someone to effectively cross to.
Funnily enough, the uselessness continued and Newcastle were torn apart once again to allow Aubamayeng to add a third and it was around this time that I started staring at my cat and wondering how much easier life would be to be a cat.
This was not a good match and the déjà vu feeling of the Leicester match from 2019 raised its ugly face. This was not new from Bruce, no matter what he claims, and the result points to the same bare faced fact that he is not good enough and we are most probably going to be relegated with under his leadership.
This game means that we have no wins in our last NINE games, ONE goal from open play in 13.5 hours and SEVEN first halves this season without a shot on target.
This was not a reaction to Sheffield United match in anyway. There was nothing in this match. You can’t rest on seemingly having a plan for fifteen minutes; that doesn’t achieve anything.
The reality of this match are these stats:
- Shots – Arsenal 20 / Newcastle 4
- Shots on target – 6 / 1
- Corners – 7 / 2
- Possession – 66% / 34%
Bruce taking off his gloves seems to have only resulted in one thing: cold hands.