Newcastle v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
St. James’ Park
Kick off: December 29, 2013 1:30 PM BST
In previous years, this fixture has resulted in some insane score lines, not always in Arsenal’s favour. If today is going to produce another such scoreline, then the second half is going to need to offer up a lot more than the first forty five.
The features of the first half were not so much goal scoring opportunities, but questionable officiating. That’s not to say Arsenal were particularly hard done by, both teams infuriated by some of Lee Probert’s decisions.
Tiote got away with a lot of small niggling fouls throughout the half, a poor slide through the back of Giroud and a raised hand to the face of Walcott among them. But as soon as he took a tackle from Giroud the Arsenal front man was shown yellow.
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In the build up to the foul, Cazorla had gone down injured but Newcastle were playing on. Giroud himself went down clutching his ankle after the tackle on Tiote, seemingly rolling his ankle as he lunged in. Both players eventually got to their feet, but Arsenal were momentarily left with nine men on the field.
In terms of chances, Debuchy was causing us some problems down the left early on. Making good runs in behind, and taking advantage of first Gibb’s and then Koscielny’s lapses in concentration. His end product was thankfully poor though.
Both teams had a few long shots saved, none that ever particularly looked particularly close to going on though. The best chance of the half for either side came in the dying minutes, Koscielny giving possession away and allowing Newcastle to break forward. Cabaye’s shot was blocked by Koscielny, partially making up for his mistake, but the ball fell right to Sissoko who’s venomous shot was tipped over by Szczesny. The resulting corner was met by Debuchy, who’s header crashed against the underside of the bar before being cleared by Giroud. Immediately followed by the final whistle.
Overall, not the greatest half for either side attacking wise. Arsenal need to be far more creative in the final third, and Gibbs in particular needs to make more of his crosses when he gets into good positions. Several times in the first half he had time and space to pick out a player, but elected for the wrong ball into the box. Surely a more exciting second half awaits us?
Sagna Mertesacker(c) Koscielny Gibbs
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