Newcastle can't let ill-discipline gift Arsenal victory
A series of cataclysmic individual errors have hampered Newcastle's progress post-Alan Pardew. And unfortunately for them, the visit of Arsenal, whose high-pressing system deliberately puts strain on opposition defenders, could see a continuation of this pattern.
Newcastle have recorded 23 defensive errors this season, with 9 leading directly to goals; only Everton have conceded more from mistakes. The Magpies' recent form – a mixture of poor composure, organisation and needless mistakes – was epitomised by their display at Goodison Park on Sunday, with bad goalkeeping and an unnecessary foul inside the box responsible for the first two Everton goals.
The trickery of Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla could well lead to more incidents this weekend (Arsenal have scored 6 penalties this season, more than any other team) and certainly the constant harassing of Newcastle's defenders will cause problems.
Olivier Giroud, Sanchez, and Danny Welbeck make a combined 4.6 tackles and 3.5 fouls per match on average as part of a tactical strategy focused on unsettling defenders into conceding possession.
In December's reverse fixture, Arsenal recovered the ball high upfield on numerous occasions, and forced Newcastle into playing long, aimless passes forward.
Unfortunately for John Carver, both Fabricio Coloccini (suspended) and Cheick Tiote (injured) are unavailable this weekend. Without two of their most important leaders on the pitch, Newcastle's already-inconsistent organisation and composure is under serious threat.