Movement off the ball key to Arsenal's win against Newcastle
- Credit: PA
A 10-minute flurry in the second half saw Arsenal claim the three points against Newcastle at the Emirates on Saturday.
Goals from Bukayo Saka and substitute Gabriel Martinelli lifted the Gunners to victory, both scoring well-worked goals from open play - something that has been a rarity in recent games.
Arsenal have got by on set pieces and balls falling to players in and around the box, but if they wish for their attack to truly improve, we need to see more goals like the ones scored against Newcastle.
The first half of Saturday’s game was flat. The defenders and midfielders generally took too long on the ball and were not inventive enough with their passing.
Although, it is difficult to be progressive when there is little movement ahead.
Arsenal’s best move of the first half came from Saka vacating his position on the right and popping up on the left side of the box, beating his man and setting up Emile Smith Rowe who saw his header saved and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang miss the follow up from two yards.
That unpredictable movement was shown again for Arsenal’s opening goal as Saka drifted to the left once again, playing a nice triangle with Smith Rowe and Nuno Tavares before giving the Gunners the lead. Running off the ball was crucial.
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Martinelli replaced the injured Saka 5 minutes later but continued to offer similar movement off the ball.
The Brazilian darted off the right-wing into the box to create space for Takehiro Tomiyasu out wide.
The right-back played a first-time ball into Martinelli who chipped the keeper with an excellent volley.
With the ball-playing platform provided by the defence, it is vital that Arsenal’s forward players move off the ball in order to create options as well as move the opposition defence around.
The structure put in place by Arteta through the first two thirds of the pitch is good for progressing the ball, but goals come from creativity and movement.
Arsenal’s two goals against Newcastle showed how important such movement can be. Now we need to see it more often.