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Newcastle v Arsenal and the Martinelli problem.

by Bulldog Drummond

It’s been a bit of a grotty run of late in the League and Europa competitions across the last ten matches.  We’ve won three, of which one was against Tottenham of course, and one was that fantastic win in Prague, but we’ve lost four and drawn three, not the most exciting of times.

We’ve scored 16 goals and conceded 13 in the  last ten.  Our hope of a great revival which would take us up the league and into a Europa spot did not emerge.

The last ten for Newcastle by contrast have been just as bad with two wins five draws and three defeats

When we look at Newcastle at home against Arsenal away we get this…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
8 Arsenal away 16 7 3 6 25 17 8 24
13 Newcastle United home 16 5 5 6 22 27 -5 20

So yes we are edging it by four points and 13 goals.  The difference in points coming from Arsenal having two more wins, and Newcastle two more draws, and of course Arsenal having the much better defence.

But Arsenal will be holding themselves back for next thursday’s Uefa game, and it may well be that the manager will do some team rotation.  Joe Willock, who has been in fine form, can’t play for Newcastle of course.

Here’s the regular tackle, foul, yellow table…

Tackles Fouls Tackle/foul Yellow Yellow/foul
Highest 636 423 63
Arsenal 403 306 1.32 43 7.11
Newcastle 457 345 1.32 56 6.16

Arsenal are still the team with the lowest number of tackles in the League – an absolute essential given the way referees were penalising us early on this season.  Reducing the number of tackles has meant that we have managed to keep our number of yellow cards right down, and increase the choice of players.  And we’ve done it without compromising the defence which is clever.

Even more amazingly, the number of fouls we can get away with before the yellow comes out is now much reduced… so the policy of handling referees in that regard has worked.  It hasn’t harmed the defence either, as overall we are still the fourth best defence in the league.  It is the attack that is the problem – just the 10th best attack in the league.

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Which is why we keep on criticising anyone who says we need wholesale reform in the defence, because not only is this quite a good state of play for the defence, we have a much greater need in terms of getting goals.

The big problem with this game is going to be the focus on the second leg of the semi-final.  Players might be given a rest to be ready for that game, or simply not risked because of a niggling injury.

Which might give another chance to Martinelli, whose decline in opportunities this season and decline in goals as a result, has been a real shame.   

Looking through the last ten years we can see the problem.  The bottom row takes this season so far and then on that basis estimates the final number once all games are played.

Season For Against Top scorer Goals
2010–11 72 43 Robin van Persie 22
2011–12 74 49 Robin van Persie 37
2012–13 72 37 Theo Walcott 21
2013–14 68 41 Olivier Giroud 22
2014–15 71 36 Alexis Sánchez 25
2015–16 65 36 Olivier Giroud 24
2016–17 77 44 Alexis Sánchez 30
2017–18 74 51 Alexandre Lacazette 17
2018–19 73 51 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 31
2019–20 56 48 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 29
2020-21 now 44 37 Lacazette 17
2020-21 end 51 43 Lacazette 20

This looks like being the worst season for goalscoring since 1985/6 unless something extraordinary happens in the remaining few games.  In that season our top man was Charlie Nicholas who knocked in 18.

Our defence, once again, is showing up well, which is why all the talk about ripping up the defence is such utter nonsense.  We’ve been having a horrible season, but this is by no means the worse campaign for our defenders.

But in league terms we are going to end up around 20 goals worse off than most of the earlier years in the decade, and that is where things need to be sorted for next season.   And it is also why I do return to the question of Martinelli, who scored so well last season.  There may well be a good reason for not playing him so much this year (and it hasn’t been injury), but I can’t really see it.

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The proof that something is seriously wrong with football refereeing and reporting

1 comment to Newcastle v Arsenal and the Martinelli problem.

  • chris

    Arteta is very fixed in his views eg. giving so many opportunities to Nketiah – who has never looked good enough. And selectin Xhaka at full back. My guess is that Martinelli is too direct for Arteta – too full of aggression. Arteta seems to prefer methodical players who play to a coached pattern. However, it is not the 1st time Arsenal’s performance has stepped up when Martinelli has been brought on.

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