It shouldn’t have been such a nervy game but I guess we should’ve learned by now it’s the Arsenal way of gaining three points from an away game. We were second best in the second half and lucky not to concede an equalizer.
At the end of the day – who cares! Three points are in the bag, we remain third after this weekend no matter what Liverpool and Manchester United do to each other tomorrow, the gap between us and Manchester City is still just one point, Chelsea’s lead is cut down to four (they have two games in hand though) and we have won six in a row.
Here are the key points from today’s victory.
1.Olivier Giroud scores when he wants.
It was another great day for Olivier Giroud. The French striker has been in incredible form lately and his brace against Newcastle is more proof of his maturity and improvement. He fought a difficult battle with the Newcastle defenders and scored two goals. Let’s hope he’ll keep his shooting boots on after the international break too…even if he didn’t score a single goal with his boot today!
2.Francis Coquelin is a real hero.
Ever since Coquelin got his nose broken, he’s been receiving hits and blows to that very same spot. The same thing happened on Saturday but that didn’t prevent him from breaking up about million attacks. He did switch off a bit before Sissoko’s goal though. He’ll get a well earned rest during the international break.
3.David Ospina’s contribution is heavily underestimated.
People can question Ospina’s height, his distribution and the way he palms the ball away but he’s been instrumental in our streak of victories. He was perfectly situated to save Sissoko’s header and that save with his leg while he was lying on the ground was astonishing and, it turned out, crucial. Mock him, underestimate him and basically say whatever you want about our little Colombian but he has won us quite a few points.
4.Laurent Koscielny was a defensive rock again…
The Frenchman was the leader of our defence. With Chambers more effective in attack than in defence, Gabriel still gelling with his team-mates and Nacho not his usual self, it was down to Kos to pull the strings together in our defence, especially when Newcastle threw everything at us. The pacey defender was part of our French spine (Koscielny-Coquelin-Giroud) that carried the team today.
5….but Gabriel might turn out to be Koscielny v2.0.
The Brazilian gave a strong defensive performance today with numerous clearances and interceptions. Not bad for a lad who is still learning language and had just two league starts previously.
6.Danny Welbeck still has on and off moments.
There is a lot of deja vu moments regarding our away victories of late and one of those are Danny Welbeck’s incredible runs down the flank. The way he had beaten his marker with pace before his shot was saved by Krul was very familiar – Danny did pretty much the same thing against West Ham with the same score-line. Welbeck’s touch was too heavy on a couple of occasions but his work-rate is something we can always count on. The fact the level of his game rises and drops within the same game suggests that Danny is still far from the finished article.
7.Those who can’t see Özil’s presence might have – at least – noticed his absence.
The German was heavily missed today as his accurate passing, unique ability to create space and calmness on the ball would have relieved us from pressure. The German was out due to illness but hopefully will be back for our big game against Liverpool after the international break.
8.Even when he has an off day, Santi Cazorla makes his mark on the game.
The Spaniard was unable to control the game as he usually does but he did deliver – his free-kick led to our first goal of the game and his corner to our second. He was limping in the second half but hopefully didn’t pick up an injury.
9.”Two-one to the Arsenal!”-chant should now be in our repertoire.
We have won three consecutive league away games (Crystal Palace, QPR and Newcastle) and in each one we had a two-goal-lead before conceding in the second half for a nervy finish. Add similar victories against QPR at home, West Ham away and Leicester at home – all games took place since the middle of December – and you’ll get an incredible pattern to show to your cardiologist. Oh, and we have beaten Manchester United in the FA Cup with the same score-line as well while Martin Škrtel’s late equalizer prevented us repeating the fear at Anfield.
10.We must shake off complacency, especially at the beginning of the second half.
For some reason we don’t show up immediately after the second half starts. Newcastle scored their only goal at the beginning of the second half and kept knocking on the door until the end of the game. Arsene Wenger said after the first leg against Monaco that our players had forgotten the tie would be played over 180 minutes. Our players need to remember that every game is played after the break as well and come out motivated and switched on.
Now, we’ll have to survive two weeks of international break boredom before our big game against Liverpool at home. Hopefully Hull will take a point or three against Chelsea tomorrow and the North-Western derby can end as a draw. Even a victory for Liverpool in the clash tomorrow wouldn’t be a bad thing as they have a much worse goal-difference (+13) than us (+27) and United (+24). If we beat Liverpool, we’ll be in second place for at least two days as our game is the lunch-time kick-off on Easter Saturday while City have a tricky trip to Selhurst Park on Monday night.