Newcastle v West Ham: Tactical Analysis

Match-week 1 provided us with some thrilling football, and this game was no different, Steve Bruce went into this tie unbeaten in four against opposition manager, David Moyes. Sadly the good run of form carry over to this season as we went down 4-2 in what was an open match with some good goals... and some frustrating goals.

I analyse all the goals scored (apart from the penalty) with the use of wyscout and tactical board online and highlight what was good what was bad and what was ugly.


Newcastle lined-up in a 3-1-4-2 and West Ham came out in a 4-2-3-1. A few things to note: Allan Saint-Maximin was playing a deep-lying forward role with the license to roam free in the final third and occasionally drop into the midfield to pick up the ball and carry it up the pitch. Miguel Almiron and Isaac Hayden both played similar roles and functioned as support to the wing-backs, Matt Ritchie and Jacob Murphy where they would apply pressure in the wide areas and cover the gap left for when Ritchie and Murphy were tucked in in the final 3rd. Interestingly, Shelvey occupied the 'DM role' with very little effect by way of defending would drop between the defense to collect the ball and spray passes around.

Attacking with intent

Off the ball pressing and marking defenders

This was a game heavily predicated by playing majority of the football outwide as 4 of the 5 goals scored started from a wide area. This approach by both teams suited as neither team's defenders were able to establish dominance over their rival.

Leading up to the first goal, we were pinning West Ham back with off-the-ball pressure and man-marking this combination paid in dividends when Shelvey closed down Cresswell from an awkward pass from Benrahma, Cresswell would've seen that there was no passing option as all players within close proximity were being marked by Newcastle players. Shelvey dispossessed Cresswell and Saint-Maximin's clever awareness was there to sweep up the loose ball.

When ASM wins the ball, he bamboozles Declan Rice with some lush samba skills until he eventually creates enough space for him to move into and whip in a cross for Wilson to convert.

Use of width to create chances

In this build-up to the second goal, Newcastle were enjoying a spell of possession and were probing the West Ham defense for an opening by playing through the wings. This was forcing West Ham into their defensive shape where overall width reduced and the full-backs tucked in to defend the half-space. This opened up more space in the wings and made it easier for Newcastle to pile bodies in the box, as a result of this West Ham were forced to pass outwide which benefited us because we had a high number of players that were occupying the wide areas.

The goalscorer in this sequence, Jacob Murphy, was often unmarked in the wide space, managed to make his way into the box with ease, the runs from his teammates into the box for the coss made it difficult for everyone to be marked and Murphy was able to put away his header relatively unpressured.

How our own formation and errors got exposed

Giving up space too close to goal

In the build up of West Ham's first goal, it was a case of giving away too much space for the opposition to exploit. The midfield gave up the central space on the outside of the D and chose to form a low block, this resulted in Benhrama laying the ball into an unchallenged Cresswell in the half space who crossed the ball into the back of Woodman's net.

The 3rd goal we were caught out too wide, leaving gaps in the half space which at this point, it appeared West Ham caught wind of this, Allan Saint-Maximin was caught in midfield by Declan Rice and West Ham went on to score their equaliser, it took 11 seconds for them to score from this transition. When Bowen received the pass on the right half space, Ritchie and Murphy were completely isolated from what was going on as they were too far wide to be near anyone which left Fernandez, Clark and Krafth exposed so it became a 3v3 in favour of West Ham due to how much space there was to exploit from the lack of cover.

Caught on the counter

Here we have the events leading up to their fourth, ball carrier here (Murphy) is going to pass to Krafth who advances from his centre-back position to provide cover on the right wing for Murphy who is more inside. The gap left from Krafth pushing up doesn't get covered by as Shelvey is in the middle of the park and Hayden is further up the wing than Krafth and Murphy, so this move in itself poses a high danger should a counter-attack occur. Krafth then passes to Hayden who puts in a cross that finds nobody and gets cleared to Antonio and West Ham start their tranisition, as soon as Antonio wins the ball (and beats two of our players Fernandez and Shelvey) Benrahma is already running into the gap left by Krafth. At this point, it's Kraft and Clark v Benrahma and Antonio, Krafth, who is the closest man to Benrahma needs to tackle Benrahma or close down the passing lane and same with Clark on Antonio to prevent Antonio from going through on goal. But neither action is taken to prevent.


A game that could start off so well and then quickly turn on its head is one of the more common notions of a side managed by Steve Bruce, for how much he prides his "experience" you'd think he'd of found a way to manage a result by now. In truth, West Ham in the second half were by far the superior side, they looked fitter and sharper which we couldn't cope with on the counter-attack. Their ability to adapt and shuffle their front 4 was clever and well analysed by Moyes and his team.

Our best moments from the match were obviously from the first half but what we saw was gave plenty to be positive about, Wilson looked in excellent physical condition and Saint-Maximin roaming free in the final 3rd will cause anyone problems. A tactical reaction from Bruce in response to Moyes would've made the second half more interesting, there is some quality on the bench that could've enabled us to play "our game" rather than theirs.


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