Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle United
Premier League review
I was in the North Bank Upper for this game, and I expected us to win beforehand, and we did. But my sincere hope was not to see “square pass football”. Even though we won, my wish was not granted.
We didn’t attack with much width. We dominated possession, and resorted to pot shots from 25 yards. And our full-backs and attacking mids didn’t look to capitalise, nor take the ball forward.
Yes, we did win, and are currently (before Liverpool’s game) in fourth place. However, we’re clearly being mismanaged in terms of our coaching/attacking play. I’m happy to win games, which fan isn’t? But our mode of attacking means we’re not playing to our full potential.
Overall, the two halves comprised:
– A wonderful run from Maitland-Niles, where he drifted from the left-back role and hit a shot just wide.
– An exquisite volley from Ozil for the winner. It was head tennis in the Toon box, yet the technique for his goal was extraordinary.
– Lacazette spurned two good chances to score, with the latter being a chip over the bar, when perhaps he should have shot low.
– Newcastle attacked late on, but didn’t do much to threaten seriously Petr Cech.
– The Toon fans were signing “4-0, and you F’ed it up”. I guess it was hilarious for them at the time, though they haven’t won a major trophy in decades, and since 2011 have been relegated. We can naturally cite direct opposites, since the game they took great mirth in reminding us about.
It was more of the same, in an attacking context at least. Our play was more of the “sideways shuffle” we’ve witnessed lately.
It was not the best performance we’ve had. We lost to Man U, but played well. And we played exceedingly good vs. Spurs and won. But this was a meh performance, accompanied by a win.
I can imagine the players saying to each other out there “Alex, I’m free, square! Alexis, square! Hector, switch! Ainsley, square! Granit, square! Mesut, I’m free, square!” It’s tedious, dull, and boring.
Yes, we did win. But then what gets me is a lack of penetration, and unfulfilled potential. We don’t have bad players at all. Many of our squad, even those who don’t play regularly, have been involved
in World Cup wins, Euro finals, and AFCON finals. Elneny is mocked by some, but he lost in the AFCON to Cameroon. He scored in the final, no less.
Despite these negative points, Ozil did score a great goal, and whilst Ozil frustrates often, his technical skill is unmatched. Comparisons to Bergkamp are scant, due to various differences in their styles and positions. However, he can on his day match Dennis on technique. I’d be happy for Ozil to stay, though his fellow star player needs to buck up. Alexis is still my favourite player in our squad, and his performances have been more consistent over the past two/three years than Ozil’s. However, whether he isn’t bothered with Arsenal anymore, he was crap today. At Soton, he got an assist that papered over cracks. However, Wenger needs to either bench him, or tell him that things MUST improve. Or, if worst comes to worse, sell him in January. I don’t agree with the narrative that he will disrupt City’s play. They may well go close in the Champions League, and I doubt he’ll be cup-tied in it. Pep could use him there, or as a supplement, if Sterling or Sane get injured.
Other points noted are:
– Maitland-Niles looked sharp. His run in the first half was well-executed, and overall he looked solid.
– Bellerin….well. what can I say? In his native tongue, “un juego muy malo”. When he emerged in 14/15 and 15/16, he was top. He not only looked strong defensively, but offensively he was exceptional. Now, he has lost his pace, and our inability to break teams down is partly due to this (note partly, it’s not all his fault….)
– Iwobi. Alex is another facet of our inability to break teams down, and must share this (amongst others) with Bellerin. He is a talented player, and let’s not forget he won African Young Player of the Year in 2016. However, despite his evident skills and tricks, he lacks end-product. He also releases the ball in inopportune times, thus limited our attacking potential.
– Jack. Jack is back, though today he was not outstanding, he did pass the ball well, and look to get forward. On this form, he surely must get into the England team. I hope he does as there are too many Spurs players in there at the moment.
– Welbz. Dat Guy has not looked very good as a sub lately, but I think it’s due to our overall tactics. We self-evidently lack width, and possibly he is being told to play narrow along with his teammates.
– Lacazette missed two good chances to score, but then no player is at it in all games. It’s his first genuinely bad performance since joining us, and he should be forgiven for this. I noted
boos when he was going off, but I think this was more directed at Wenger and not him. If they were at him, well those Gooners should slap themselves around the head, as punishment for their inanity. Even our best strikers, Henry and Ian Wright, had stinkers on occasion. They’re human beings, not machines, and no person can be at it in every game.
Cech 7, Kos 6, Monreal 6, Maitland-Niles 8, Wilshere 7, Xhaka 5, Iwobi 4, Ozil 8, Alexis 3, Lacazette 5, Giroud 6, Welbeck 5, Coquelin 6.
Man of the match
Ozil shades it for me, vis a vis Maitland-Niles. This isn’t just for his goal, but overall he was more energised, ready to track back, and more recently looks happier on the pitch.