Arsenal Weather Newcastle Onslaught, Get Another Important Victory


Coming off a disappointing end to their Champions League campaign, it was important for Arsenal to go to Newcastle and get all 3 points.  Newcastle is not exactly a team in great form the past several months, as their fans voiced their discontent before the match and the commentators noted how eerily quiet the stadium was compared to normal, but I don’t think anyone would say we haven’t had our fair share of challenges there in recent seasons.

The lineup saw Callum Chambers prefered to Hector Bellerin yet again in the league while Aaron Ramsey got his start after scoring midweek and was joined in the lineup by the freshly healthy Gabriel Paulista.  As a side note Mesut Ozil was left out of the team because of an apparent illness which he was struggling with.

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The match started with Arsenal attacking straight out the gate and with the exception of 5 or 6 minutes around the middle of the half, it was all Arsenal all the time.  The side looked energetic going forward especially down our right flank where the defensive midfielder Jack Colback was forced to slot into left back for Newcastle due to injury.  Alexis Sanchez, Chambers, and Danny Welbeck all seemed to pinpoint this weakness throughout the first half.  Still though, it took Arsenal 24 minutes to find the breakthrough.

In the 24th minute Santi Cazorla whipped a free kick into the box and found Welbeck, who then flicked it on goal. The flick may have went in itself, but Olivier Giroud (we’re playing Newcastle, who else?) made sure that it found the netting.  He found the Welbeck flick and coolly slotted it past Tim Krul.  Arsenal really started to fly from here.

Just one minute later Alexis found himself on the end of a Ramsey cross in the Newcastle box, after a neat bit of skill to get around his man he sent the ball to Welbeck.  Unfortunately though, in what is quickly becoming ‘Welbeck’ fashion, he sent his volley just wide of the target.

Just minutes after that, in the 28th, Olivier Giroud (Who else? Seriously) doubled Arsenal’s lead.  Santi Cazorla whipped in the corner and Giroud didn’t to move as he was “


(Thank you for that one, Dan Roebuck) held by the Newcastle defense and headed the shot into the bottom corner.  This guy seriously can’t stop scoring right now and I for one am absolutely loving it.

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The half as a whole saw a number of chances from Arsenal too.  Welbeck and Ramsey both could have had at least a brace a piece as well, but they seemed to be snatching at their chances a bit and a Newcastle side which seemed to be out of life and defending in a shocking manner were lucky to go into the half only 0-2 down.

Oh what a difference a halftime makes (or a tale of two halves), this would be the working title to a story about this match, anyway…     I’m not sure what Newcastle manager Jonathan Carver said to the Newcastle players at halftime, but whatever it was, I’ll have what they’re having.

The Magpies were the much better side in the second half and it only took them 3 minutes after the whistle to pull back a goal.  In the 48th minute Remy Cabella sent in a cross from the right side of the box which whizzed right past a couple of Newcastle players and then fell to the feet of Moussa Sissoko.  Sissoko struck the volley with some force and easily beat David Ospina to put Newcastle right back in the game.

It had been a while since we had to deal with this type of anxiety from Arsenal and my fingernails are not happy, but hey what would an Arsenal season be if we didn’t have to hold on to a dangerous one goal lead for an entire half a few times a year?  Well, for the masochists among us, this half was great.

From here until halftime it was the Newcastle and David Ospina show.  Ospina made save after save from his line as he was constantly tested for the next 4o minutes.  Just one minute later Ayoze Perez sent a curling effort just wide from the opposite side of the box and 10 minutes after that Yoan Gouffran had a shot from about 10 yards out saved on the line.

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The last 30 minutes saw another Sissoko effort saved on the line, Cabella had several shots saved and a possible penalty not called, and most dramatically, Ospina just saved an equalizer with his outstretched legs as he was on the ground.

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Fortunately for Arsenal their first half attack was enough to see off the second half surge from Newcastle and we came out with the 3 points on the day. Maybe Newcastle should sign Carver to a player contract after seeing his tackling skills on Welbeck, no seriously, their manager tackled Welbeck…

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As disappointing as the 2nd half was for us, the 1st was convincing.  The side looked pretty tired after the trip to Monaco midweek, but it seems the adrenaline was just enough to bag a couple in the first half an hour and the defending did the trick the rest of the way.  Giroud was obviously brilliant on the day and with the exception of Harry Kane, (EW!), there is not a better striker in England right now.  Even having sat out September, October and basically all of November, Giroud is making a valiant charge for the golden boot.

The next best player for me was Francis Coquelin.  He had yet another impressive outing.  He played the midfield ‘anchor’ position brilliantly.  He allowed Ramsey to get forward and time after time was able to snuff out the Newcastle counter attack almost immediately.

Arsenal’s attacking prowess in the first half was also aided in my mind by the inclusion of Gabriel to the side.  His pace in “comPERison” (I’m sorry) to Mertesacker allows the team to move forward more freely without as much fear of getting back fast on the break.

“That’s what we have to do, just go for the next game and win it. Look, the players want to do as well as they can. We know we have a fight first to be in the top four. We will go step by step, game by game.”-Arsene Wenger

The lads really looked tired in the 2nd half and even though we got the win I think a good number of them could do with a rest during the international break.  The hard truth about the modern game though is that a lot of them won’t. We have talented players on our team and their national sides will want them to be around as the Euro 2016 qualifiers begin.  Let’s just hope nobody gets hurt, I suppose.  We can only concentrate on what we can do ourselves as a team and as Wenger said, as cliche as it is, we just have to take it one game at a time. Until next time, #COYG

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