After what has been a largely inactive transfer window, it seems things have not changed at Arsenal with a display that was eerily reminiscent of performances we saw at the back-end of last season.
It was possession, possession, possession that lacked one important aspect, the killer blow as Arsenal failed to force the ball into the Toon goal after having a huge 63% of the possesion.
Our only major signing so far, Gervinho, was easily the most threatening player on the field. With his pace and trickery he unlocked the Toon defense on numerous occasions, but seemed to lack the confidence to simply take a shot in when the situation called for it, opting instead to pass and attempt to orchestrate that perfect goal that so rarely comes off.
As expected Arsenal dominated proceedings at the outset with a much superior passing ability and ball retention, but frustratingly always seemed to lack the final pass or if the final pass made its target, the ball would not settle to allow a good shot on goal.
The whole match produced two golden chances for Arsenal to attain victory. The first came nine minutes into the second half when Gutierrez fouled Sagna on outside the right side of the box, only for Van Persie to whistle the free kick inches over the bar. The second fell to substitute Theo Walcott who received a ball from Ramsey on the left, cut inside his defender and shot low at Krul’s goal. The Dutchman did well to save.
Although it was Gervinho’s red-card in the 75th minute that decided the contest, effectively dulling down the remainder to the game as Newcastle simply didn’t have the quality to carve out any decent chances and Arsenal were reluctant to go forward a man down. Bad-boy Barton found himself in the firing line again after being the Architect of the red-card after dropping like a sack of s*** when he provoked Gervinho into a small tap on the head.
Other notable mentions on the performance was our backline. With Vermaelen at the back it seems our the back-four are much more solid and we very rarely gave away any opportunities to Newcastle with aggressive and responsive defending, although Gibbs inexperience showed with a few rash challenges.
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Wenger’s Words: “I thought we had a solid performance and were in control. Newcastle had last season’s 4-4 more in their mind than we did. They organised not to concede goals, defended well and it was very difficult for us because we played a team who was highly focused to defend. We missed something, the regret is that we missed something in the final third and in the speed of our passing. But, overall, we had a good performance. I can’t remember giving Newcastle a chance at goal and, away from home, you have to give credit to our team for that.”
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Gervinho Van Persie (c) Arshavin
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.0: Very commanding presence from the young Pole, who dealt very well with the high ball and was very quick to spot danger where he reacted accordingly
Bacary Sagna | 7.0: A typical performance from the Frenchman. Was great in defence and also did well to provide an attacking option down the flank.
Thomas Vermaelen | 8.0: The Belgian was back to his best with his no-nonsense approach in defence. Very aggressive and very strong. Hardly put a foot wrong all match.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.5: The French defender, like Vermaelen played strong and aggressively providing a vital headed clearance when Arsenal were a man down.
Kieran Gibbs | 6.5: Inexperience was probably the main reason behind a few rash challenges, although played solidly. Hopefully he will improve with more match experience.
Alex Song | 6.5: As always a rock in front of defence, getting dirty when the situation called for it. Although reckless challenges marred his performance when he received a yellow card early and perhaps should have seen red when he stamped Barton.
Tomas Rosicky | 6.0: Started very well although faded as the match went on. Had good distribution although sloppily gave the ball away on a couple of occasions. Replaced by Frimpong in the 84th mintue.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.5: Much like Rosicky had had good distribution although failed to produce any incisive balls for goal-socring opportunities. The Welshman was solid, but not amazing and was substituted in the 90th minute for Djourou.
Andrey Arshavin | 5.0: Faded as the match went on and was anonymous on numerous occasions, all attributes we have come accustomed to. First to be substituted when replaced by Walcott.
Gervinho | 7.5: Easily the most threatening player on the field for Arsenal providing plenty of venom in attack. Although lacked confidence to shoot in good positions and couldn’t provide the final pass. His red-card overshadowed a great performance.
Robin van Persie | 6.5: Not as involved as he would have liked as he lingered around up front, but was still threatening. Received a great through ball by Arshavin in the first half but failed to control and also narrowly missed a free-kick in the second.
- Notable Substitutions
Theo Walcott | 6.0: Produced a great shot on goal after cutting inside his defender. Often though he lacked the final pass or cross after finding his way into great attacking situations.
Full Match Highlights: