Arsenal started the season with just about as good of a start as they could have hoped for. They scored a goal, kept a clean sheet and took all three points.
It wasn’t pretty, with Arsenal only creating just two decent scoring chances but it was effective. Considering the number of players that were unavailable for 90 minutes in attack, you’ll take this result every time.
Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal: By the graphs
xG Shot Map
Shot Placement xG
Simulated Match Results
Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal: By the numbers
8 – Shots for Arsenal
4 – Shots by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
1.09 – xG for Arsenal
0.93 – xG for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
On a day where Alexandre Lacazette was at best an emergency option, new signing Nicolas Pépé was just getting into training and Arsenal started two teenagers in attack, the demands on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to be the man were huge.
Thankfully he was able to deliver, scoring Arsenal’s goal and being in general incredibly threatening. He took half of Arsenal’s shots, led all players in final third touches and was second to Henrikh Mkhitaryan (10) in touches in the box with 8.
It was an encouraging match that even as essentially the lone threat he was able to cause Newcastle’s back line lots of problems. I can imagine the addition of two more threats for a defense to focus on will only help.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Man of the match
4 – Tackles of 6 attempted, led Arsenal
3 – Interceptions, led Arsenal
3 – Clearances, 2nd on Arsenal
5 – Ball recoveries, 5th on Arsenal
4 – Dribbles completed of 6 attempted, led Arsenal
2 – Fouls suffered, 2nd on Arsenal
88.9% – Pass completion percentage, third highest (with expected passing completion of 79.9%)
4 – Final third entries, 2nd on Arsenal
3 – Passes completed into the box, led Arsenal
1 – Assist
1 – Man of the match
Maitland-Niles put together easily his most complete performance as a right back for Arsenal. He did very good both defending (a major question after the pre-season) and as an attacker. Watching his total contribution to the Aubameyang goal you get an idea of his total match in one small snapshot of the match.
This should be a relatively easy pass to complete. The distance that Maitland-Niles has to close down is quite large and a pass typically travels much faster than a player can run.
Thankfully the pass was telegraphed and not hit very hard. Even with that Maitland-Niles read things perfectly and then showed off his impressive acceleration to cut this ball off perfectly. His first touch to knock the ball away was also perfect and sent him down the left wing.
After carrying the ball 30 yards Newcastle’s defense is finally able slow him down, he takes this as a chance to survey the field and spots Aubmeyang running all alone in space.
He delivers a great chipped ball over the two defenders and Aubemyang is one on one with the keeper.
Overall this is a great example of his great athletic ability, good technical skill and his incredible calmness to look to play the correct ball.
26 – Minutes for Dani Ceballos
29 – Touches
78.6% – Pass completion percentage (22 of 28)
1 – Dribble
1 – Cheeky interception of a pass to the goal keeper as Newcastle looked to take a goal kick.
19 – Minutes for Nicolas Pépé
13 – Touches
4 – Ball recoveries
66.7% – Pass completion percentage (6 of 9)
6 – Minutes for Gabriel Martinelli
5 – Touches
1 – Foul
1 – Clearance
66.7% – Pass completion percentage (2 of 3)
It wasn’t the most impressive group of debuts for three of Arsenal’s new players but it was also very nice to see all three get action. It also made for Arsenal having an incredibly strong bench in this match.
Ceballos got the most minutes in this match and in his short spell showed that why Unai Emery thought that he wasn’t quite up to the speed required for this match. His passing wasn’t dialed in with a number of passes not finding their intended recipients and one from the deep left defensive half that was blindly switched and gave Newcastle their most dangerous moment of the second half.
Pépé and Martinelli didn’t have a ton to do in his short stints as Arsenal protected their lead but they did come in and get some game time which is a good thing and hopefully should see them, especially Pépé feature more next week against Burnley.
Sources: Opta via Whoscored, my own database, Wyscout