Tactics: How Saka and Martinelli’s magic got Arsenal back on track

Join Stephen Bradley as he discusses Arsenal’s comfortable 2-0 win over Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Gabriel Martinelli celebrates with teammates Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal after scoring their team’s second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

He analyses how Arsenal tried to attack Newcastle with little success early on, only for Bukayo Saka to work out the Magpies’ weakness on the left hand side and take full advantage of them.

He also praises Mikel Arteta for keeping the pressure on Newcastle’s backline by bringing on Gabriel Martinelli, and explains why.

Martinelli magic: Arsenal player ratings vs Newcastle United

Arsenal got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over a stubborn Newcastle at the Emirates on Saturday to set us all off on a good weekend.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27: Bukayo Saka celebrates with teammates Emile Smith Rowe and Nuno Tavares of Arsenal after scoring their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Bukayo Saka celebrates with teammates Emile Smith Rowe and Nuno Tavares of Arsenal after scoring their team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

At the break, the scores were level, although that was more thanks to another superb Aaron Ramsdale save and an unbelievable Auba miss.

Aubameyang could try another 100 times and never be able to hit the post from that distance at that angle.

It was an astonishing miss.

 

The referee, Stuart Atwell, insisted on letting a lot of niggly fouls go while also playing advantage by applying the ‘you’ve kept the ball’ rule, which is not really what advantage is supposed to be about.

How else do you explain Bukayo Saka being fouled, Atwell waving advantage as Saka somehow stumbled on with the ball, trying to keep his feet before succumbing to physics. He fell into three Newcastle players, just a few yards from where he had been fouled, losing possession? What sort of advantage is that?

Other fouls Atwell just seemed oblivious too, perhaps spending too much time these days as VAR to remember he needs to look around him and not just follow the ball.

Arsenal’s opener, when it eventually came, was worth the wait.

Not long after, Saka had to leave the pitch with what appeared to be a left hip problem.

He was replaced by Gabriel Martinelli, who scored an equally impressive goal with his first touch around 90 seconds later:

Arsenal will finish the weekend in fifth place. The only thing that could change that is a Manchester City win over West Ham by 11 goals or more.

If that madness happened, which it won’t, Arsenal would finish the weekend fourth, which seems equally bonkers.

Arsenal player ratings (half-time)

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal scores their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Bukayo Saka of Arsenal scores their team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
  • Aaron Ramsdale 7.6 (6.2)
  • Takehiro Tomiyasu 8.5 (7.2)
  • Benjamin White 8.1 (7.4)
  • Gabriel 7.6 (7.0)
  • Tavares 8.3 (6.8)
  • Thomas Partey 7.6 (7.1)
  • Albert Sambi-Lokonga 8.4 (7.2)
  • Bukayo Saka 8.3 (6.5)
  • Martin Odegaard 7.8 (6.7)
  • Emile Smith Rowe 7.8 (6.7)
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 6.8 (6.4)

Arsenal player ratings – subs

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27: Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal scores their team's second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal scores their team’s second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
  • Gabriel Martinelli 7.5
  • Alexandre Lacazette 6.4
  • Mohamed Elneny n/a
Arsenal player ratings vs Newcastle United
Arsenal player ratings vs Newcastle United

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