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Newcastle United continue to impress against big teams

Newcastle United St James Park
Image Credit: EG Focus, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Newcastle United beat Arsenal 1-0 in a Premier League match at St. James’ Park last Saturday, Nov. 4. Anthony Gordon scored the only goal of the match in the second half. Arsenal have dominated their head-to-head against Newcastle United in the recent past, but Eddie Howe’s team are a different beast altogether.

With that win, Newcastle climbed up to the sixth place in the league table with 20 points from 11 matches. Arsenal, meanwhile, dropped to the third place with 24 points from 11 matches. It was also their first defeat of the season. The Magpies will fancy their chances of ensuring yet another top-four finish. They certainly have the capability of doing so.

Newcastle United performing consistently well against big teams

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Newcastle had demolished Manchester United 3-0 at the Carabao Cup in their previous match, thus eliminating the Red Devils from the competition. They have traditionally done well at their home ground and were a few minutes away from beating Liverpool there in a Premier League match last September. They also lost very narrowly to Manchester City earlier this season and could easily have earned a point from that match at least. Quite understandably, most of the big clubs are a bit apprehensive of taking on the Magpies these days.

With their win against Arsenal, the Magpies have proved yet again that their finish inside the top four was not a fluke. It has to be remembered in this context that they thrashed another big team, Paris Saint Germain, in the UEFA Champions League this season.

Their string of good performances against big clubs indicates without any doubt that they are a big club themselves at the moment. However, to cement their status as one of the Premier League’s elite, they will need to ensure Champions League qualification season after season.

Long-through balls were the order of the day

Newcastle attacked a lot through their right flank in the first half against Arsenal, with Miguel Almiron being particularly active. However, in the second half, they relied more on long balls from inside their half to slice the Gunners’ defence open. 

The Magpies boast a speedy pair of wingers in the form of Almiron and Gordon and have a pair of back-ups like Joe Willock and Jacob Murphy as well. Hence, their tactic of using the pace of their wingers paid off against the Gunners. With a strong centre-forward like Callum Wilson in their team, Newcastle’s attack kept testing the Arsenal centre-backs repeatedly. Moreover, with Takehiro Tomiyasu playing in a hybrid role, Arsenal often played with a back-three, which made the job of their defenders tougher.

However, the goal that they scored was a controversial one, as the ball might have crossed the line before it was brought back to play. It was yet another setback for the VAR after its folly in disallowing a Liverpool goal against Tottenham Hotspur in September. 

However, Eddie Howe’s men will not be complaining, as they travel to Bournemouth next and will remain the favourites to win that match, too.


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