Newcastle 0 - 1 Arsenal
After a good win at Upton Park, Arsenal travelled up North to face Newcastle. The Gunners needed the three points to regain their place at the top of the table, whilst The Magpies were looking to solidify their top four challenge.[quote_right]”Newcastle were remaining steady at the back, & were launching some decent attacks down the right flank…”[/quote_right]
The first half was tame, to say the least.
Arsenal were holding on to possession well, moving the ball around the midfield with ease. Newcastle on the other hand, were remaining steady at the back, and were launching some decent attacks down the right flank.
The half dragged on eventless, ending with a dangerous Newcastle corner which saw Debuchy have a header hit the bar, then cleared off the line by Wilshere.
Arsenal’s second half was marginally better. Jack Wilshere carried on his good first half show by dominating Arsenal’s midfield, doing his best to influence the game positively.
Although The Gunners were looking slightly more lively, it still took until the sixty-fifth minute for Olivier Giroud to break the deadlock. Walcott floated in a beautiful free kick, and the Frenchman did well to touch the ball just enough to get it past Krul. Arsenal were a goal up, but the game was far from over.[quote_left]” The final whistle was nothing but pure relief. Arsenal were top of the table once again.”[/quote_left]
For the rest of the game, Arsenal were unsteady.
Wenger threw on Arteta and Jenkinson, and went for a 5-4-1 formation, after replacing Giroud with Bendtner. It was unorthodox for Arsenal to say the least.
Newcastle responses by bombarding Arsenal’s box. Crosses and lofted balls from Cabaye, Sissokho and Ben Arfa were coming in often, and Arsenal were only just about holding on.
Although there were some edgy moments, with yet more iffy Szczesney distribution, leading to a near-Remy goal, the clock was winding down on Newcastle.
As the final whistle got nearer, Newcastle just couldn’t find a way through. Arsenal’s back line was strange, but steady - and most importantly of all, it managed to do its intended job. The final whistle was nothing but pure relief. Arsenal were top of the table once again.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Extremely fortunate that his poor kick which hit Remy in the face didn’t trickle in, instead of going just wide of the post. He made some smart saves otherwise, but he really needs to sort his distribution out.
Battled hard all game, got forward often, but maintained a tight grip on all of Newcastle’s attacks. Made some very good tackles and interceptions.
No problems for Per. Remy was kept quiet, and Newcastle were not too bothered about attacking down the middle. Got his head to the ball whenever he needed to.
It was Laurent’s first game back from a short-term injury, and he didn’t look as comfortable as usual. He misplaced a few passes, and wasn’t as quick off the mark. No real issues though, had a decent game.
Arguably Arsenal’s hardest worker today. Kieran won tackles and interceptions up and down the pitch, and had to deal with Sissokho and Debuchy down his flank, with little help from Cazorla. Got forward at every opportunity too.
Provided the steel we needed in midfield up against Tiote, Sissokho and co. The Frenchman put himself about, made blocks, tackles and held it together well in front of the back four.
Wilshere: [8.5/10] - MOTM
Jack ran the show for me today. He didn’t have a direct impact on much, but he worked tirelessly in the hole to create, whilst also tracking back to defend. He made some great passes, closed Newcastle down often, and was always looking for the ball.
Regular readers will know that I’m no fan on Santi when we play team with physically big players. Sissokho and Tiote dealt with Cazorla with ease, and the little Spaniard didn’t help himself by pulling out of the odd challenge. Can’t cut it against the bigger guys.
Theo had a quiet game really, although he wasn’t getting much service. He made one or two good runs, and his free kick assist for Giroud was right on the money.
Tomas threw himself around a little too much today. He sprung into tackles, looked aggressive, and may well have been sent off. It’s good to see that aggression, but he needs to control it a little better. His passing game was also a little off.
Like Walcott, Giroud had little to do thanks to a lack of service. He dropped deep to win the ball, but nothing was really working for him today. Still, he managed to grab a hugely important goal, with a clever header.
Came off the bench and dished out two hospital-balls in quick succession. Calmed down towards the end though.
Worked hard, got some good blocks in, and wanted the ball. Can’t ask for much more.
Carl bizarrely won a throw on high up the pitch in the final moments, after Krul had gone up for a corner. As the Newcastle goalkeeper scrambled back, Bendtner showed himself as available for Jenkinson, but the youngster turned his back on the game, and pretty much day-dreamed for a few seconds. Very weird, and potentially costly. Got a few good tackles in though.
Newcastle away is no easy game. Yet Arsenal completed the year with a very professional job. Was it a smash and grab? For me, it was more of a skilled mugging.
Jack Wilshere really put in a shift, whilst Giroud finally popped up with an incredibly important goal, which fired Arsenal to the top of the table. Wenger’s tactics in the final moments were weird, but they worked.
I’m beggining to lose my patience with Cazorla in these types of games. In fact, perhaps I’mlosign patience with Wenger regarding Santi’s involvement. The Spaniard gets out muscled too easily, and is clear scared to go in for tackles against larger opponents. Apart from one shot on goal today, Cazorla was useless - and that’s a real issue.
Next up, Cardiff at home. Now that is a “Cazorla game”.
What did you think of the Newcastle vs Arsenal match? Let me know in the comments below!