Newcastle United fell to a 1-0 defeat against Arsenal in their first Premier League game of the season today, and fans are already bemoaning the tactics of manager Steve Bruce.

The game was a stale affair, with neither side creating many chances overall, however an unusual series of substitutions from Newcastle in the second half turned the game on it’s head.

Bruce took off an ineffective Jonjo Shelvey in the 54th minute with the match tied at 0-0, but bizarrely substituted the central midfielder for left-back Jetro Willems.

It was a decision which would prove costly.

Bruces’ poor communication skills were instantly highlighted for all to see as Willems began running up and down in midfield, pressing the Arsenal defence.

For some unknown reason, Willems seemed to think he was directly replacing Shelvey’s midfield position rather than playing in his natural defensive one.

Bruce was seen shouting in confusion from the side lines, screaming to his staff “What the f*** is happening?”.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Never the sort of thing you want to hear from the man in charge.

After two minutes of mayhem, Willems and make-shift left-back Matt Ritchie finally switched positions, Ritchie taking up the open role in midfield.

And unsurprisingly, the confusion appeared to effect Willems’ concentration.

Moments later he was caught sleeping as Paul Dummett played out a pass to the left hand side, allowing Ainsley Maitland-Niles to snatch the ball and drive up the right wing.

The youngster then teed up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a well placed cross, allowing last year’s Golden Boot winner to finish with a neat chip.

It was one of the only real chances Arsenal created, and it came at the hands of Bruce’s tactics.

In response to the goal, he then took off another midfielder in Sean Longstaff, again strangely replacing him with non-midfielder Allan Saint-Maximin.

This left just Isaac Hayden as the only natural midfielder, as Matt Ritchie continued to drift into a left-wing position.

Almiron was then expected to come back into midfield in a swap with ASM, but looked lost and uncomfortable on the right-hand side.

It was chaotic, it was clumsy, and no-one really knew what was going on, particularly the players.


Unsurprisingly, they completely lost any of the rhythm they showed in the first half and were overrun by an Arsenal side who continued to show no attacking threat.

Newcastle fans believe it’s a sign of things to come, and they aren’t looking forward to the rest of the season.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Toon fans on Bruce tactics

(Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

Have something to tell us about this article?