Five at the back has almost served Newcastle well against Chelsea and Manchester City, but it’s time to say goodbye.
Rafa Benitez has gone for a defensive approach in the Magpies’ last two games, ending in 2-1 defeats.
In both games, Newcastle defended well and were unlucky not to get anything.
Next up is another Premier League juggernaut in Arsenal, but Benitez must move away from five at the back for now.
Time to attack
Newcastle have barely had the ball in their last two games, but must be more attacking against the Gunners.
While Arsenal are still strong in possession and boast world class players, they are not the Arsenal of old.
Unai Emery’s side are not the finished article, and can be got at defensively. To do that, Newcastle must be more expansive.
And to be more expansive, Newcastle must switch from five at the back to a defensive four.
That means dropping one centre back in favour of an attacking player, which will allow Newcastle to get higher up the pitch.
Will it be worth the risk?
However, with a home crowd behind them, they certainly have a chance. Five at the back might stifle Arsenal, but it is further up the pitch where Newcastle can punish the North London side.
They might not be perfect, but Man City and Chelsea are much more defensively sound than Arsenal. With Emery wanting to play out from the back, Newcastle can easily put them under pressure by pressing high.
Petr Cech has shown that he struggles with the ball at his feet, but he won’t make any mistakes if a rigid Newcastle drop into their shape as soon as they lose possession.
Points make prizes and that is exactly what Newcastle need, so it might be time for Benitez to ditch one of his defenders.