Szczesny: There wasn’t really a lot for the Pole in goal to contend with this evening with the defensive back line doing well to keep Ba and others at bay. Near post goals rarely yield favourable reviews for keepers but it was a well taken finish and I’d place more blame on the defence in this instance. His distribution was decent and remained composed throughout. 6/10.
Sagna: His performance tonight proved, as if any further proof was necessary, that he is one of the best right backs in world football. He showed fabulous pace and strength to keep Jonas in his pocket and was a consistent threat on the overlap. The amount of offensive possessions that went through him and Walcott when compared to our left side of the pitch was mind boggling, and his return to full fitness is certainly a blissful boost in the business end of the season. 8/10.
Koscielny: Another faultless game from young Frenchman as he remained calm and composed against the physical presence of Ba and later Ameobi. His pace and strength has progressed markedly since he has been on our books and he remained defiant in the face of Newcastle’s two leviathans. He has the technical ability to burst through the middle of the park when the opposition press high, which helps to alleviate pressure and instigate offensive movement. 7/10.
Vermaelen: I criticised him at half time for the poor clearance which led to their opening goal, which is perhaps a curse of the exceptional standards he sets himself week in week out. Yet all dissatisfaction about their goal was quashed in the final minute of the game as he sprinted over 60 meters to get on the end of a Walcott cross. That kind of leadership and determination isn’t coachable, and it doesn’t come from the manager or training staff. We’re lucky to have a vice captain who’s willing to take the game by the neck and wring 3 points out of it. 8/10.
Gibbs: There wasn’t a lot that went through him over the course of the 90 minutes as we focused the majority of our offence on our right hand side, but he displayed good link up play when called upon. Yet I feel that he was at fault for their goal as he allowed Ben Arfa to cut onto this only foot and blast low and hard past Szcz, rather than keeping him on his weaker side. However it’s great to see him wearing the red and white again, and hopefully he can remain fit and battle out for the left back position with Santos. 5/10.
Song: Another steely performance in the middle for the man who’s hair looks like it has just combusted. He swept up many Newcastle attacks and showed both poise and intuition in possession. He made a few poor passes going forward but with the assists he laid on this season I think he has a right to attempt the odd low percentage pass. 6/10.
Arteta: The manner in which he conducts himself on the field is superb, and when coupled with a 94% pass percentage he makes Xavi’s ball retention seem ordinary. It almost begs the question “why hasn’t he been playing for us for a few seasons”, as his equanimity and passion not only wins us the ball back but keeps us pushing on. 7/10.
Rosicky: Another contract-renewal worthy display from The Little Mozart who is playing with the kind of confidence and spirit that we saw from him before his gigantically mysterious injury took him away from us. He plays with zest and speed, his technique is superb and he has become the engine which drives us forward. I was a little disappointed to see him go off so early as I though up until then he had been one of our best players. One touch in particular off the outside of the boot from a throw in deep in their half, after which he got on the end of a Walcott cross to test Krul with a daring flick on, captured his confidence and craving for three points perfectly. 8/10.
Oxlade-Chamberlain: He struggled all evening to get into the game, mainly because of the amount of attacks we conducted down our right flank, but he was lively when called upon. It wasn’t hugely surprising to see him go off for Gervinho at 68 minutes. He almost crafted a moment of magic by sending a rasping volley just over the bar but that was about as close as he came. He looked a little dishevelled on the bench after the substitution but he can’t be the best player on the pitch every game. 6/10.
Walcott: For his inconstancies he has picked himself up recently and showed again this evening how he can impact a game positively. He put it on a plate for Van Persie in the second minute but the Dutchman spurned the chance, and after going a goal down showed great spirit to bomb straight down the flank after linking up with Rosicky and getting the assist for Robin. Whilst our second goal won’t go down as an assist for Theo it was his cross which caused the ball to drop for Vermaelen three yards out. He was our main threat all night and forced Newcastle into a half time tactical change, so was man of the match for me. 9/10.
Van Persie: The aforementioned missed chance in the second minute and a poor touch minutes later in the box prompted me to consider he may be off the pace this evening, but they were of course blips. His first touch off the Walcott cross and second to eliminate the defender was textbook, and his finish was the easiest part of the goal. He held the ball up well and shipped in a few decent balls from set pieces which caused their defence a few problems. 8/10.
Gervinho: He didn’t provide too much in the 20 minutes he was on, and he strikes me as the kind of player who needs to start games in order to have an impact. 6/10.
Ramsey: He came on for Rosicky and provided less impetuous going forward, but gave the Czech a well needed rest. 6/10.