Newcastle v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
St. James’ Park
Kick off: December 29, 2013 1:30 PM BST
A tough first half in which neither team created many chances, and a tense, overly defensive last fifteen minutes. Two teams separated by the one and only Giroud goal. Here are the player ratings:
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.5: After a very quiet first half, he was called on in the last of the forty five to make a fantastic fingertip save. And aside from one moment of madness in the second half he was top quality for the entire game. He made a few important saves and plucked a number of crosses out of the air to avert danger.
Bacary Sagna | 8.0: His attacking threat wasn’t as potent as usual, due to the high amount of defensive work he had to do. But his overall play today was fantastic.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.75: He made a couple of mistakes that were almost costly, but his pace and agility allows him to recover well. He can often be seen covering for others’ mistakes, and was superb at times today.
Per Mertesacker | 8.0: (MotM) Reliable as ever, rarely puts a foot wrong. He’s an ever present in defence and his aerial dominance was extremely noticeable today.
Kieran Gibbs | 7.0: He was great going forward early on in the first half, but was restricted by the attacking threat of Debuchy and Sissoko. His positioning was punished couple of times, but Koscielny made up for it.
Jack Wilshere | 6.75: Moments of brilliance and some strong driving runs were seen today, but his reading of the game was often poor. Making runs when he shouldn’t have, playing passes for non existent runs, and getting himself into cul-de-sacs he couldn’t escape from.
Flamini | 7.5: His energy in midfield was vital today, as Newcastle were applying a lot of pressure off the ball. He had to move to the left back position when Gibbs went off in the second half, and did well as a makeshift full back too.
Santi Cazorla | 6.5: After his fantastic game against West Ham, he was back to being fairly poor today. He was putting the effort in and trying to get involved, but things just weren’t going right for him. His touch was letting him down, he was finding himself under pressure he just couldn’t deal with. He wasn’t helped by a rough and aggressive Newcastle midfield combined with a lack of officiating on a number of occasions, but overall he was poor.
Thomas Rosicky | 7.5: His effort and will to drive the team forward is so important at times. He always looks for the forward ball, and looks to start off attacks. And his work rate is immense.
Theo Walcott | 7.25: While he didn’t have a hugely influential game, his effect on the game was hugely noticeable once he was taken off. Without Theo on the pitch Newcastle were able to push way up and pile the pressure on.
Olivier Giroud | 7.25: His link up play wasn’t as good as it has been, but his hold up play was good, and his goal was the difference between the two sides. Hopefully his goal will be the start of some renewed goalscoring form.
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: I thought his introduction would steady the midfield a bit and add some composure, but it was actually the start of a period of panic. Long balls, hurried clearances and headers to no one. Not his normal composed self. He did make a couple of good tackles and interceptions though.
Carl Jenkinson | N/A: Came on to make it a back five. Was fairly decent, but missed a chance to take a quick throw to Bendtner when Krul was out of his goal for a corner.
Nicklas Bendtner | N/A: Was barely on the pitch long enough to have an impact.