After their late run of form in the Premier League, are embarked on their next adventure as they hosted Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners haven’t won a game in their last three matches, picking up just two points from a possible nine – but got back to winning ways in a bittersweet performance against Newcastle.
Wenger’s preferred XI that started the match were Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin who seems to lack confidence of late, Koscielny who has been error-prone lately, Nacho Monreal, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka who I think should be benched for the next 7 games as he has been a suspect all season, Alex Iwobi, Mesut Ozil (Magic Ozil), Alexis Sanchez who loses the ball far more times than he’s useful with it and Alexandre Lacazette.
This was a match that had two different emotions to fans in particular, as the first half was totally different to the second. The Gunners started the first half looking brightly, as they aimed at firing from all cylinders. The first real chance of the match fell for Bellerin who initiated the attack when his awkward pass fell to Alexis who produced a one-touch flick to Lacazette that had his shot blocked, but the rebounding falling to Bellerin whose effort was well blocked by two Newcastle players.
In the 11th minute, Arsenal produced a sleek moment that would have been well a good goal for Alexis Sanchez. Bellerin yet initiated this attack, when he played a pass to Ozil who flicked on to Lacazette; finding Alexis who couldn’t keep his shot from blazing over the post.
Maitland-Niles singlehandedly produced a moment of brilliance when he won back possession for the team and drove all the to the edge of the Newcastle box in a bursting run, skipping past a couple of players before unleashing his shot that found the side net of Elliot’s post.
Maitland-Niles is a brilliant player who I think will someday lead the Arsenal line as I’ve written about his development in one of my earliest articles. The only problem I see with this amazing player is finding the position that best suits him as he thrives when he’s called upon.
The 23rd minute was something magical and a joy to behold as Ozil kept up his spark he’s had lately by scoring a true artist goal. Hector Bellerin played in a drilled-cross that missed everyone but Alexis Sanchez; taking a shot which got blocked but birthed the brilliance of Ozil’s goal, as the German was able to anticipate and properly position himself as the ball was in mid-air, before striking an exquisite volley into the post to score the only goal of the match.
Like Eminem said in one of his verses, “I’m like your problems, self-made”, sounded in my ears watching the second half as we lost the momentum we had in the first half – being clumsy with the ball and our finishing.
The Gunners performance in the second half wasn’t worthwhile as they invited danger for themselves by giving away possession in critical areas of the pitch. In the 54th minute, Matt Richie could’ve benefitted from our sloppiness when Bellerin couldn’t get the ball away from the edge of his penalty box and was dispossessed off the ball, which fell to Richie who took his shot over the bar.
Cech produced a wonderful save a minute after when Xhaka lost the ball in the attack, and Newcastle broke lose on the counter-attack before Murphy stretched us wide – cutting in and took a shot aimed at Cech’s far post but the Czech international stretch at full length to keep away the danger.
In the 74th minute, Wilshere had a chance to double Arsenal’s lead but Elliot kept out his effort. Alexis produced a cross to Giroud, who wasn’t selfish as he brought the ball down for Jack Wilshere who was free in the Newcastle box – taking his shot which was parried away by Elliot.
The positives in this match were taken in the first half as the second half was summary of how our last three games have been. We face Liverpool next at home in the League but have a quarterfinal showdown against West Ham in the Carabao Cup at the Emirates on Tuesday night.