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Talking Tactics

Newcastle relying on Wilson for cutting edge at Arsenal

Adrian Clarke 16 Jan 2021
Callum Wilson

Adrian Clarke highlights striker's importance and assesses the balance between Magpies' attack and defence

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 19.

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Newcastle United must find a creative spark if they are to trouble Arsenal on Monday.

Steve Bruce's side have failed to score in three of their last four Premier League matches, and also drew a blank against Arsenal in the FA Cup third round this month, losing 2-0.

They have averaged only 2.2 shots on target per 90 minutes across those five matches.

Finding a balance

Bruce has not had a set formation this term, flitting between 4-4-2, 5-4-1, 4-5-1 and 3-5-2.

When Newcastle start with three centre-backs they often keep things tight, as they showed in their goalless draw at home against Liverpool. But they lack a regular goal threat playing in that formation.

They have scored five goals in nine matches when using a back five. And in the seven top-flight fixtures where they have used a lone striker, they have scored just three.

Newcastle formations 2020/21
  Matches No goals scored Wins Goals scored
Back five 9 5 1 5
Back four 8 1 4 13
One striker 7 4 0 3
Two strikers 10 2 5 13

Bruce is more cautious against the bigger clubs so is unlikely to use a bold 4-4-2 formation at Arsenal.

But, while the Gunners are in good form, they are without a clean sheet in 11 Premier League home matches, their worst run in the competition.

If Bruce decides to be more ambitious, Newcastle could reap the rewards.

The stats show his players score more frequently with an extra attacking player in the starting XI.

Reliant on Wilson

Irrespective of their game plan, Newcastle's prospects for the rest of the campaign rely heavily on the form of striker Callum Wilson.

The summer signing's pace and movement has added a fresh dimension, and he leads the way for Newcastle for both goals and assists, with eight and three respectively this season.

Wilson goal v Everton

Midfielder Jeff Hendrick is the only other Newcastle player to score more than one goal.

Wilson has had a direct involvement in 61.1 per cent of Newcastle strikes this season.

The only player to have a larger share for a club is Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane.

Most-involved players 2020/21
Player Goals Assists Total Team goals % involved
Kane 11 11 22 30 73.3%
Wilson 8 3 11 18 61.1%
Son 12 5 17 29 58.6%
McGoldrick 4 1 5 9 55.6%
Fernandes 11 7 18 34 52.9%

West Bromwich Albion are the only team to have attempted fewer shots than Newcastle this term, so Arsenal will be confident of extending their four-match unbeaten run.

However, they must certainly be alert to the threat of Wilson.

Also in this series

Part 1: Leeds must be alert to aerial threat of Dunk
Part 2: Fulham trio can inspire rare win over Chelsea
Part 3: Versatile Rashford adds to Man Utd threat at Anfield

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