Arsenal struggled to a narrow 1-0 win against a Newcastle who were on top for a large part of the game, and should have scored a number of times before Koscielny punished them with the only goal of the game.
The win ensured that Wenger’s men are now two points clear at the top of the table. We look at some of the things we learnt from the game.
1: Scrappy Win, the stuff of Champions
This game should be way down there as one of the worst Arsenal games of this season, they failed to get a single shot on target in the first half while Newcastle had already had 4 shots on target, the attack looked toothless, the midfield and defence were totally outran, but for Petr Cech, Arsenal would have been on the receiving end of a morale sapping defeat. But at the end of the day, the Gunners took all three points home, with their first real chance of the game.
In summary, Arsenal had a very bad game and still won. This has been the stuff of Champions, on the days they play badly, they still have the will to win and get those 3 points, we can remember the runs of narrow 1-0 wins Manchester United always have on their road to the title, those vital points on their bad days are what separates them as Champions, Arsenal are now showing them.
2: It’s time to return Theo to the center
Arsenal as a team had a bad game, but Theo Walcott had a much worse game, he was easily the flop of the match, he couldn’t help out in defence, leaving Monreal exposed for most of the game, and he was ineffective in attack, became a little useful when he moved to the right, but still was well below par.
But in all this he was always making runs and trying to get in the right place. These characteristics would have served Arsenal better in the center. Giroud’s physicality was well handled by the Newcastle defence, but they would not have been able to handle Walcott’s movement and pace which would have been aimed at either pulling on of the defenders out of position when they play too deep, or running in behind of the last defenders to receive passes. In all Walcott poses a much bigger threat in the center than on the flank. Its time Giroud is given a break, and Walcott allowed to return to his now familiar role.
3: Ozil needs rest
The German has been an ever-present in Arsenal’s squad since October playing every game for both club and country, he is obviously fatigued with Wenger even admitting it in his press conference, the consequences of this might not even be injuries, but something worse, a burnout and a subsequent loss of form, which would be disastrous for the Gunners. Against Newcastle, even though his class shone through and he still put in a fair shift, we all know he is capable of much more, but he was obviously tired, he couldn’t even chase down balls that ran behind him, Arsene Wenger is now making a gamble playing him without proper rest, as he did with Sanchez. With some big fixtures coming soon, we hope Wenger rests Ozil, at least during the FA Cup game against Sunderland.
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