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Steve Bruce says plan was to be aggressive and on front foot from kick-off against Arsenal

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Steve Bruce has been reflecting on Sunday’s match at St James Park.

Arsenal completely dominating and strolling to a 2-0 win which could / should have been double that or worse.

An embarrassing total of only one shot on target by Newcastle as Arsenal’s replacement keeper had a remarkably quiet afternoon.

Even more remarkably, Steve Bruce has claimed that his plan was for Newcastle to be aggressive and on the front foot from the kick-off.

A shame he didn’t inform the players of this cunning plan…

It is baffling for Newcastle fans, as what we saw was a Newcastle team making zero attempt to be on the front foot or aggressive, the home side refusing to come out and trying to properly press Arsenal, even after the early goal. United instead letting Arsenal have easy possession of the ball and pass it around under no pressure.

For fans, the only explanation surely is that these were Steve Bruce’s orders, to be so negative and sit deep? As surely if that wasn’t the case, Steve Bruce would tell them to change very quickly and get aggressive and on the front foot, yet he just stands at the side of the pitch watching / letting it happen.

This is a repetitive story, so many games we see such a negative game plan, yet Steve Bruce afterwards tries to duck responsibility, claiming instead that his orders were for the team to get on the attack, on the front foot…

It appears there are only two explanations…the players don’t take any notice of his instructions, or Steve Bruce’s exciting attacking pre-match plans are a figment of his imagination.

On Sunday, it was the 25th time in 34 Premier League games this season, where Newcastle failed to score in the first half.

Steve Bruce talks about improvement in the second half and yet after the break there wasn’t a single NUFC effort on target.

When Steve Bruce arrived at St James Park 22 months ago he promised that his Newcastle team would always play on the front foot. We found out very quickly that this was totally misleading and now 22 months later has anything really changed?

From their first choice eleven that played in the Europa League on Thursday, Mikel Arteta rested eight of those players on Sunday, plus Steve Bruce himself points out that Arsenal have had to deal with a lot of travel and extra football ahead of Sunday’s match.

Steve Bruce had eight full days (less the ones he allowed as holidays away from the training ground…) to prepare for this Arsenal match and yet that is the shamble we see on the pitch and in the dugout. Nowhere near good enough and the Premier League table says it all…

Newcastle United only outside the relegation zone because of three seriously weak teams.

Steve Bruce talking to NUFC TV after Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2:

“The whole thing we wanted to do was start aggressive, be on the front foot against them.

“Because lets be fair, they [Arsenal] have been all over Europe this week.

“But I thought their changes, the eight changes, and the quality that they brought in, it was a difficult afternoon.

“Then when we conceded like we did after four minutes, it turns into an even more difficult afternoon.

“Just after half-time I thought we had our best spell in the game. But then unfortunately they went up the other end of the pitch and scored.

“I thought Allan [Saint-Maximin] did all his best work too deep, he went searching for the ball in deeper areas. That is something we can work on and keep him higher up the pitch.

“Disappointing thing for me is that we could have been thirteenth today – but we didn’t play well enough to beat a very good Arsenal team on the day.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2 – Sunday 2 May 2pm

Goals:

Newcastle:

Schar red card 90

Arsenal:

Elneny 5, Aubameyang 66

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was Arsenal 62% (61%) Newcastle 38% (39%)

Total shots were Arsenal 19 (13)  Newcastle 5 (3)

Shots on target were Arsenal 5 (3) Newcastle 1 (1)

Corners were Arsenal 7 (4) Newcastle 3 (2)

Referee: Mike Dean

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Murphy, Fernandez (Schar 72), Clark (Gayle 84), Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Almiron (Joelinton 73), Wilson, Saint-Maximin

Unused Subs:

Mark Gillespie, Emil Krafth, Jamal Lewis, Matty Longstaff, Jeff Hendrick, Elliot Anderson

Crowd: 00,000

(Jonjo Shelvey forced to walk dog on Sunday night to get his 10,000 steps in – Read HERE)

(Steve Bruce finally runs out of luck – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Sunday’s defeat – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Arsenal Reserves 2 – Total capitulation from Steve Bruce – Read HERE)

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