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Steve Bruce after Newcastle lost to Arsenal “I understand there’s always going to be criticism here”

5 days ago
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Steve Bruce watched on as Arsenal walked away with all three points.

The visitors were missing a load of players due to injury particularly in defence, as well as late signings and ‘security’ issues for Ozil and Kolasinac, Unai Emery forced to play two teenagers as well as squad players coming in.

Newcastle never looked like taking advantage, although Joelinton and Shelvey were just off target in the first half.

Much of the talk afterwards was about the tactics and the bench Steve Bruce named – four defenders and two strikers, no midfielders.

Taking off Shelvey and Longstaff with Willems and Saint-Maximin replacing them, led to a formation and seeming lack of tactics and cohesion, as Newcastle never looked likely to find an equaliser.

Steve Bruce admitted after the game that Ki was simply left out and not injured, even though he said he had injury worries on a couple of defenders, it was still very strange to name four defenders on the bench and no midfielders.

As for confusion on formation and tactics after the substitutions, the head coach says a lot of that is down to new signings arriving so late.

Which then begs the question, why as usual does Mike Ashley insist on leaving key signings so late in the transfer windows?

With Tottenham and Liverpool away in the next four matches, it looks vital for Newcastle to improve and get something at Norwich next Saturday.

Hopefully some belated extra time on the training pitch for new signings and established players together, can make a difference.

Steve Bruce:

“Jonjo Shelvey was injured but we don’t think it’s too serious, he was just restricted in his movement. We don’t expect it to be too bad.

“Ki (Sung-yueng) wasn’t injured, just wasn’t part of the squad today.

“We had a knock to Dummett and we had a worry over Lascelles this morning because he wasn’t feeling too great, it was important I had two central defenders on the bench and that is what we were guarding against.

“It (Willems on as sub for Shelvey and going into wrong position, just before Arsenal scored) was just a lack of communication with him.

“I wanted to put Matt Ritchie inside and play him (Willems) in his position.

“He (Willems) only played there (in midfield) for two minutes until we got the information down, about where we wanted him to play, quickly sorted out, not a problem.”

“We have made a genuine mistake (for the goal), whether the pass (from Dummett) was too short or whether he (Willems) hasn’t reacted quick enough, at the end of the day I can’t criticise anyone for making a mistake.

“I thought his (Willems’) position to start with was too high and made the ball longer than it should have been. If that is a criticism, then it’s something we can work on.

“The reason why most of them (new signings) weren’t playing today, is because they have only been here four or five days.

“The longer we get, the longer we work together, we can iron out those things that need to improve.

“Unfortunately, we left ourselves open and we got punished.

“If you look at it and analyse it, against a good Arsenal team, apart from the goal they haven’t really created a chance.

“I understand there’s always going to be criticism here.

“That is part and parcel of it – but I think it would be wrong to criticise – because we had a go in the last 15 minutes.

“Since I have been here in the last three and a half weeks, everybody (Newcastle fans) I have bumped into has been nothing other than positive.

“There’s nothing I can do about people protesting.

“They earn their hard-earned money and they are entitled to protest. Everybody is.

“The one thing I need to do is work hard on the training ground to give them a team they enjoy watching.

“The effort and endeavour was there for everybody to see and my job is to get the supporters back onside, enjoying watching their team.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 0  Arsenal 1 – Sunday 11 August 2pm

Goals:

Arsenal:

Aubameyang 58

Possession was Arsenal 62% Newcastle 38%

Total shots were Arsenal 8 Newcastle 9

Shots on target were Arsenal 2 Newcastle 2

Corners were Arsenal 3 Newcastle 5

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Newcastle team v Arsenal:

Dubravka, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Manquillo, Hayden, Shelvey (Willems 54), Longstaff (Saint-Maximin 67), Ritchie, Almiron, Joelinton

Unused Subs

Darlow, Clark, Fernandez, Krafth, Muto

Crowd: 47, 635 (3,200 Arsenal) – There looked to be approximately 43,000/44,000 actually inside St James Park as some season ticket holders joined today’s boycott.

(Clueless Steve Bruce tactics cost NUFC – Read HERE)

(Read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the match HERE)

(Watch the official match highlights HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1 – Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players – Read HERE)

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