The Croydon De Bruyne delivers yet again. An analysis into Arsenal’s win against Newcastle.


The Croydon De Bruyne

Formations/tactics (4-2-3-1/4-1-2-3)

Mikel Arteta retained the 4-2-3-1 that has proved to be successful for the Gunners in their last three games, although an evident trend was Willock pushing forward regularly, with Elneny operating in a single pivot.

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Pressing & Defensive shape

Arsenal utilised a 4-4-2 press when Newcastle were deep in their own half, with Willian and Aubameyang operating as the two up top. Although the home side were predominantly in possession, they resorted to a 4-5-1 block when Newcastle had them pegged back.

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Goal kicks & in possession

From goal kicks, a 4-2-3-1 was deployed with Elneny at times making it a three at the back. Progressing forward, Arsenal would shift into a 2-3-5 with one full-back tucking midfield whilst the other would overlap. The 2-3-5 also became a 2-2-6 with Willock advancing forward.

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First-half performance

Possession was controlled by the home side, with Bruce unsurprisingly setting his team out to remain compact in a low block, with the onus solely on Arteta’s men to take the initiative. Coming in for the injured Gabriel Martinelli, Nelson started brightly, forcing Dubvraka into a comfortable stop in the opening minutes.

But as the half progressed, a common trend was apparent in Arsenal’s play. Passing was lacking zip along with players taking poor touches/decision making; these were aspects that resembled their first-half display. Pepe drifting centrally and delivering an excellent ball for Reiss, with the latter failing to seize upon the opportunity a prime example of this.




Regarding the performance from the visitors, Newcastle lacked pace/fluidity in their attack and failed to create anything substantial. Promising situations could have developed for the away side if they were able to capitalise on turnover opportunities presented to them.

Second half performance

After the interval, it was the Magpies who looked threatening, with Andy Carroll missing a golden opportunity to open the scoring. Moments later, the home side could have also taken the lead on two separate occasions. The first came through Aubameyang timing his run to perfection, with Elneny playing the ball in behind. The Gabonese international, however, lacked conviction with the chance. Pepe drifting to the left, also delivers a promising ball for Willock who forced a good stop.


When changes were made, a 2-3-5 with Xhaka and Elneny maintaining their positions in the double pivot was the primary set up. Tierney continued to advance forward and provide width along with Cedric overlapping when attacks stemmed through the right, making it a 6.

Although Granit’s presence certainly helped in midfield, Arsenal didn’t test Dubvraka as much as what they would have liked. But in the dying embers of the 90, it was actually Bernd Leno who was needed. The Germans tremendous stop ensured that extra time would commence.

Extra Time

Arsenal needed a spark and it eventually came from the Croydon De Bruyne. Intricate play between Lacazette, Saka and Smith Rowe, with the latter finishing the move of brilliantly.




The hosts put an end to the contest with Aubameyang’s goal, with Xhaka and Tierney instrumental in the build-up play. After receiving the ball from the Scotsman, Granit repays the favour with an excellent ball in behind, allowing Kieren to square the ball for Arsenal’s No.14 to convert.


Relief springs to mind and despite plenty of areas to improve upon, the primary objective was to advance into the next round, which the Gunners did.

Individual performances

Despite having minimal involvement, Leno certainly came to his team’s rescue, making a crucial stop which forced extra time. Concentration levels are an essential quality needed in your goalkeeper and the German demonstrated this attribute.
Both Pablo Mari and David Luiz were untroubled and the main analysis should be conducted on their quality in possession. The Brazillian tried to create from deep, with a few well-executed long balls in behind whilst Mari, who despite has shown great consistency since coming into the eleven, could have released passes with more pace and zip.
At right-back was Cedric Soares who didn’t have one of his finer games. The Portuguese international was frustrating on the ball, particularly in the first half and failed to provide consistent quality when he overlapped.
The same can’t be said for his partner on the opposite flank, Kieren Tierney. The Scotsman was instrumental yet again in providing width, advancing forward and delivering quality in the final third. His ability to accelerate instantly from a static position is devastating, constantly beating his man both on the inside and outside. A performance that should have been rewarded with the man of the match award.
The two central midfielders of Elneny/Willock failed to provide that much-needed transition in the middle of the park. Both far too slow in the build-up play, with Joe, in particular, losing the ball in dangerous areas on many occasions along with struggling to influence the game with his dynamic runs.
Playing in between the lines was Willian, who just hasn’t lived up to expectations since his arrival. As a 10, the Brazillian looked promising in the second half against Sheffield United. But today, he failed to deliver and should have been taken off earlier.
Hooked early in the second half was Nelson. Despite a promising start, this was the 20-year-olds poorest display of the season. Reiss received the ball in promising areas but failed to deliver in these moments. However, a lack of minutes/game time also needs to be considered.
On the right was Pepe, who provided intensity out of possession, which will please his manager. On the ball, it was a mixed display. Showed quality with his deliveries for Nelson and Willock but also failed to make the right decisions in key stages of the game. With Saka blooming as an inside forward, the Ivorian will struggle to displace the youngster in the Premier League.
Overall it was a quiet display for Aubameyang, who struggled to get involved during the build-up phases. Nevertheless, the Gabonese international’s goal on the night could be one that kickstarts his season.
Emile Smith Rowe, Xhaka, Saka, and Lacazette all provided their own unique influence in the game. Granit’s ability to break the lines from deep helped quicken the tempo of the play, Arsenal’s No.9 showed his quality as a link player and whilst Smith Rowe wasn’t overly impressive before the goal, he was yet again productive.
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One Response to The Croydon De Bruyne delivers yet again. An analysis into Arsenal’s win against Newcastle.

  1. Blink January 10, 2021 at 3:11 pm #

    Very good analysis. I thought Xhaka was excellent when he came on & showed real quality.
    I know he is not the most popular player at times with fans & has made some high profile blunders but when he produces he is very good.
    He is well thought of in the dressing room by team mates.

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