Unai Emery explains what changed the direction of Arsenal’s game at Newcastle United
Arsene Wenger had a formidable record at St James Park and now Unai Emery has a 100% record, so far.
The Spaniard watching his team win 2-1 after a shocker of a first half.
Newcastle were the better team before the break but were missing that quality, attacking intent, and maybe luck, meaning the score were still level at half-time.
In open play the lack of creativity and quality was laid bare for Newcastle whenever they got near the box but a succession of corners had the visitors repeatedly struggling to clear their lines.
Shelvey, Rondon and Kenedy were all watching from the bench and if a goal was to come, then it looked most likely to come from the likes of a big defender such as Lascelles or Fernandez.
When the goal did come, Fernandez was involved, a needless free-kick given away just over 25 yards out, the only real blemish on the Argentine’s performance.
Xhaka hit the free-kick well but Martin Dubravka must be feeling he would have saved it more often than not.
Reflecting on the game, Unai Emery has no doubt what the match depended on, saying ‘The key was the first goal, this goal gave us the confidence.’
The effect on the game was dramatic, Arsenal’s rapidly growing confidence matched by Newcastle’s totally disappearing. Dubravka hadn’t had a save to make as the outfield players in front of him looked completely comfortable.
The opening goal saw all of that go the distance and it quickly became a case of how many the visitors would win by.
Confidence and momentum are very important factors and with five defeats and only a slightly fortunate draw at Cardiff to show for their efforts so far, Newcastle need their better players back onto the pitch and to get that vital first victory ASAP.
“The first half we couldn’t control the match like we wanted. We needed this control to impose our ideas.
“But we conceded a lot of chances for transition for the counter attack. We didn’t concede a lot of chances, but we gave away a lot of corners, a lot of opportunities for them to arrive into our box.
“The second half, the balance on the pitch was better, our positioning when we were attacking. We didn’t concede the transition as easy.
“The key was the first goal, this goal gave us the confidence to improve on the match and to impose our ideas, our game. The second goal finished the match and the result.
“We needed to impose ourselves.
“One challenge is to have better performances away, to be more competitive, to have a lot of chances to win.
“The result gives us confidence but there are things on the pitch, individually and collectively, that we can improve.
“We are happy with this victory and we are improving but we also need to continue working individually and collectively to improve more things
“Every player works, not only the attacking players but also the midfielders and the centre-backs at set pieces.
“Also when the left-back and the right-back are arriving in the box we want to give them chances to score but normally, our attacking players will do more in the future.”
“For me every player is the same and I want to use each quality for us.
“Mesut Ozil is enjoying the work and enjoying it with us.
“His quality helps the team and it was important he scored. Not only do I want him helping with assists but goals as well.
“I want to continue working with every player and him to continue our process for the creativity that we want.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2
Newcastle: Clark 90+1
Arsenal: Xhaka 49, Ozil 58
Possession was Arsenal 64% Newcastle 36%
Total shots were Arsenal 12 Newcastle 4
Shots on target were Arsenal 2 Newcastle 2
Corners were Arsenal 4 Newcastle 10
Referee: Lee Probert
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Clark 46), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie (Muto 79), Diame, Hayden, Murphy (Kenedy 69), Perez, Joselu
Darlow, Manquillo, Rondon, Shelvey
Crowd: 52,165 (3,200 Arsenal approx)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2 – Read HERE)
(A third relegation in 10 years on the cards? Read HERE)
(Match ratings of all NUFC players after the defeat – Read HERE)
(Phil Thompson had some strong views on the match – Read HERE)
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