Arsenal 7 – 3 Newcastle: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

Well, that was a strange sort of a game with a hugely entertaining end that has boosted the festive cheer in Gooner households no doubt. For me this was a family weekend and it kept me fully engaged, ergo the lateness of this report. Hopefully, at least some fans will still be in the mood to read and talk about the game.

I was expecting goals in this one and a close fight. Despite the final score, I think it’s safe to say the game was tight for 80 odd minutes. The final 10 minutes were about Newcastle showing the effects of their midweek exertions and the Gunners producing an exceptionally ruthless and efficient performance.

Arsene picked virtually the same line-up that had won the last two games with the exception of Koscielny coming in for Mertesacker, reportedly due to illness. Newcastle had a predictable, injury-depleted starting eleven.

The first-half was a soporific affair with Arsenal sitting back and Newcastle attempting to attack. There were far too many mistakes from both sides. The overall quality of the game was uninspiring.

At the end of the first period, the visitors had 7 shots compared to Arsenal’s 3. They had more possession, played more passes, and looked like the side that wanted to make something happen.

Wenger’s team struggled in possession and were limited to a counter-attacking approach. On the positive side, the defending was more focussed with the players working hard to hold the shape. They were also looking for quick transitions and were trying to put balls in behind Newcastle’s high line.

By my count, Arsenal had four promising moments in the opening 45 minutes. Theo deftly scored one, had a shot on target – albeit a tame one – with another, and made a complete mess of a third situation. Oxlade-Chamberlain too disappointed with an early opportunity where his touch, decision making, and finally the shot were all below the level expected.

Newcastle had more of the ball but didn’t create too many chances. Arsenal’s shape forced them to shoot from outside the box and there was just one header from a set-piece that counted as an attempt from inside the box, although off-target. Their goal came from a deflected free-kick. Some might say Wilshere should have shown more courage, perhaps if he had been an English lad… well, let’s just leave it at that.

The Gunners came out with greater purpose and belief in the second half. They took the game to Newcastle and the patterns of play were completely different.

The second goal came from pressure applied high up the pitch against a Newcastle throw. Many players were pulled towards the flank. Cazorla’s ball across the edge of the penalty box found Oxlade-Chamberlain in an excellent area. The youngster scored his first League goal of the season with a well-taken strike, partly atoning his miss earlier in the game.

The visitors didn’t take long to equalize. Sagna wasn’t able to track Obertan while no one tracked Marveaux’s run to the back post. Arsenal’s attacking impetus in the second half had come at the cost of defensive shape and discipline. In my opinion, Wilshere was guilty of leaving his man free.

Jack played his part in the build-up to the third goal though. He won the ball high up the pitch and it was his run and chip that created a mess on the Newcastle goal-line resulting in a one yard header for Podolski.

Soon enough, Wilshere was again a yard behind Marveaux. This time the Frenchman created the chance for Dembe Ba to tap home. It can be argued that Gibbs was the bigger culprit as he fell asleep at the back post.

Now it was Gibbs’ turn to make up for his mistake. A well timed run into the box was followed by, for once, a clever cut-back into a useful area.

Newcastle’s third attempt of the second half and their last in the game came in the 75th minute. The game felt like a contest till the 80th minute. After that it was all Arsenal. You could see the visitors were now feeling the effects of their toil at Old Trafford. I wonder how many people would have thought the game would finish 7-3 when it was 4-3 with 10 odd minutes to go.

It really was the Walcott and Giroud show at the end. The quality of their finishing and that of the assists was superb. We haven’t seen such a ruthless display of clinical finishing from the Gunners for quite a while now.

The last few weeks have been good for the Gunners. I’d mentioned the quirk of fate that had lined up five winnable games for them at a vital point in the season. They’ve won three while one has been postponed. But despite the four wins on the trot in the League, Wenger’s side still have a win ratio of less than 50 percent. That shows just how much work needs to be done and the kind of consistency that they’ll have to display before we start forming broader conclusions. For now, it’s just about enjoying the time of the year and the games as they’re won.

Individual Performances:

Szczesny: Can’t blame him for the first or the second goal but he might have done better for the third. Catching was comfortable, distribution felt a bit rushed at times.

Sagna: Arguably, one of his weakest defensive efforts in quite a while. Conceded the foul that led to the first, was easily beaten for the second, and could have done better to prevent the cross for the third. Work rate was typically excellent.

Koscielny: Made a number of important clearances and interceptions. Was good to see him get tight on Ba when the striker was the outlet for Newcastle in their own half. Passing could have been better.

Vermaelen: The Belgian had a big game in the centre of defence. Like his partner, he made a number of useful clearances and tackles. Didn’t see as much of the ball as he normally does.

Gibbs: Should have done better for the third goal but I don’t blame him for the second. As we’ve discussed all season, needs better decision making and execution in the final third. There was that moment in the second half when he side-footed a shot straight at Krul when four teammates were waiting for a cross/cut-back. Good assist for the fourth goal.

The full-backs had difficult, somewhat disappointing games. Oddly enough, despite the three goals conceded, I find it hard to blame the central defenders for any.

Arteta: Another strong game defensively, particularly from a positioning point of view. But Newcastle exposed the spaces around him in the second half. Didn’t see as much of the ball as the side struggled to dominate possession but passing was reliable as ever.

Cazorla: Wasn’t as much in the game in the first-half as we’d have liked against such a depleted side. Decent assist for the second goal. Passing was below his usual standards.

Wilshere: Very poor defensively. Partly at fault for all the three goals. Good work to create the third goal. Did he pick up an assist for the seventh? Overall a disappointing game.

It feels strange to note this was the midfield’s weakest performance in the last few weeks. But as Wenger says, we’ve to take distance from the score when analyzing the game. When such a Newcastle side dictates play at the Emirates and given the nature of goals conceded, there’s every reason to demand better from the midfielders.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Good to see him get off the mark in the League this season. Should have done better with that chance early in the first half. Another one who had a so-so performance.

Walcott: Will probably be the MotM in most people’s reckoning, was a close second in my book. The placement and execution for the first goal was top class. Excellent composure for the second. The third was cheeky, almost mesmerizing as well. The first assist for Giroud was superb. There is no doubt his was a decisive performance. But it wasn’t without its flaws, particularly in the first half. In fact, if we take the final 10 minutes out, his effort wouldn’t go down as a memorable one.

Podolski: MotM in my book. Excellent assist for the first goal where he made the most of a bad pass from Cazorla. Was involved in the build-up of the second, scored the third, and had the pre-assist for the fourth. Also created a second chance for Walcott in the first half and was involved in a number of promising moments that Arsenal created. The nature and quality of the three goals at the end overshadowed his effort but I think it was more valuable.

The attackers had an outstanding second half. Their effort covered for the imbalance in midfield and the soft goals gifted to the opposition.

Subs: Giroud was back with a bang, and then another –  two exceptional finishes. Ramsey had another useful cameo. Coquelin hardly had any time on the pitch.

Wenger: The problem of balance is still evident – In the first half we saw a solid collective defence but little attacking impetus, in the second there was genuine forward thrust but at the cost of gaps at the back. His technically accomplished midfield has not dominated the park against the likes of Wigan and Newcastle, and that too when their form is rock bottom. There’s undeniable room for improvement.


11 Responses to Arsenal 7 – 3 Newcastle: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. santori says:

    err..not sure if I was watching the same match as you.

    Jack was very dynamic for us going forward. He also dispossessed the opposition players on numerous occasions high up the pitch.

    To me Jack added a difference to walcott’s play just ahead.

    As far as possession (statistics go), I’m quite happy to see us cede possession if our overall effect is benefitial.

    In this case, we out scored them 2 to 1 despite some mistakes at the back.

    An overall GD of 18 (only 4 behind the league leaders) would suggest our defensive frailties are not quite as bad as many make them out to be, granted improvements must still be made.

    As for Walcott’s effectiveness, I am of the opinion that he is equally lethal centrally or from a wide position as amply demonstrated after the introduction of Giroud.

    where I think there is a differance is that he provides a quick outlet for us when playing against teams that prefer to attack us (Newcastle) rather than cede territory to us (wigan)

    To me, he still lacks awareness and guile in the middle and is likely best in support of Giroud whereby we have the benefit of either Poldy or Theo working in tandem with giroud in the box depending on which flank we come in from.

    with the performances he is putting in currently, I think it wise that we try to sign Walcott up (even though ultimately he is still replaceable). That wenger dragged the issue this far into the season may suggest to me that he is (privately) prepared to come very close to meeting asking price from Theo’s camp, pending any outrageous offers in Jan.

    Signing on Walcott will ease a need for a creative player out wide in jan but …

    This should in no ways detract us from signing a new striker in January as an injury to either of walcott or Giroud will leave us again, quite bare.

    Also of note is the fact Giroud came on and near put in a hat trick.This is lost in all the furor over Walcott by the media.

    The other area I think we need urgent reinforcement is in the Arteta position. He is indispensable at the moment and we are heavily exposed to injury to him.

    Will agree with you on Podolski as MOTM. Industrious is the word but he also employs similar philosophy to Jack in moving us always forward (as he mentions in his interview).

    Positive from the gaffer too in piling on Giroud at 4-3 where as he opted for caution against Wigan that is anathema to our better/natural sensibility (albeit likely because of the amount of real estate afforded by the “wee club”)

    • Cupsui says:

      I would have to agree with Santori here…
      Whilshere may have made a couple mistakes but they were minor and as you have said a few minor mistakes together can lead to goals. I believe marveaux was outstanding for Newcastle. He troubled both Jack and Mikel. They were both struggling to deal with his movement and acceleration. Jack’s movement in possession is amazing and this game was a great example of that he works tirelessly off the ball and creates small opening, which in turn lead to more opportunities

      But as Santori said sometimes it is ok not to dominate possession as much but be ruthless and fast when you get it. I thought in the first half we were dominant. And newcastle very lucky to be 1-1 they created very little in terms of real chances and Arsenal should have had more.

      Second half the whole tempo was in over drive. Extremely entertaining stuff!! Theo was brilliant all through the game obviously could have had 5 goals but his movement and workrate were causing the stripes no ends of trouble and with Poldi having a blinder on the left there was so much space for the attackers to use.

      The goals were disappointing but we were going for it so as you say desi its all about balance. Its hard not to concede if you are playing that attacking…but in the end the balance was right as evidenced by a 7-3 victory!!

      Wenger: I thought he made good decisions in this game and keep pressing successfully even after the 4th goal. The decision to sit back a bit more especially early was working and this definifely plays to theo’s attributes and we should have been 3-1 up at the turn. Well done Arsene. Seems using theo up top is giving us options which we did not have just a month ago…well played gaffer!!

  2. Gerry Lennon says:

    Hard to argue with your assessment Desi, although a tad harsh. It seemed like a collective decision not to press too high up the pitch, which allowed Newcastle possession. They played well, and fully deserved to draw level. So if the ‘plan’ was to wait until they tired in the second half, it was ready to be tested.
    The one thing you forgot to mention about Podolski was his tracking back, Particularly in the first half. Now, for whatever reason, in the last couple of games Gibbs has been told to tuck in closer to the centre backs. Hence Poldi has been covering the wide attacking player. For the second goal Ba and Cisse were both centre-right of goal(attacking view), and presumably Gibbs was there to cover the late run for the cross. Nobody was there to block Marveaux, who was out wider. For the 3rd goal it was Ba who came wide and late, and Gibbs should have been closer to him. Like I say, if it is a plan to get Gibbs in as extra cover in front of goal, the it leaves a big area beyond which is hardly Podolski territory? Particularly if he is occupying their right back? Gibbs at fault for the 3rd goal? Big Yes! but I suspect not totally to blame for the set up?
    Overall it was a pleasing big margin win, if not the way I thought it might be. That said, tougher opposition will require a much better performance. A tweak or two in the transfer market could be all it needs?

    • Foolishgooner says:

      Desi and Gerry, well done gents. I agree Gibbs is somewhat at fault some the goals specially the third but I wouldn’t dwell on it. It seems that the team must function as a well oiled machine or someone looks bad (defense, mids or forwards). Sagna had a weak game but was still a presence. He was the only outlet for Woj because Theo hold up play(first half). Result dominating possession and attack for the Goodies! Goal kick ball right back to Gunners territory. One of the down sides of young Theo as the lone striker (plus awareness). Entertaining game, we just need balance a natural DM and sustainability (Sign theo for morale and benefiting the fruits of your labor on the pitch) i could care less off the pitch! Cheers gooners.

      I hope for Mvilla and Villa for January. Happy New years

  3. Walcott pliz sign it up

  4. Dianjuh says:

    Hey Desi? Hope you had a lovely time with your family? I did!!! (with MY family that is 🙂 )

    Sometimes I fear when we have a high score game before he transfer window, why? Wenger is very good at pointing at the ‘quality’ we have as a way of keeping his hands off the cheque book. The attack was ruthless, no doubt, but the manner in which we conceded the goals is worrying, particularly being at home. This is Newcastle, we are Arsenal, and three goals conceded at home is not acceptable. We may point out the fact that they did the same at Old Trafford, fair enough, did Manchester put seven past them? the answer is NO. I am not saying teams cannot score against us, am saying it should be extremely difficult for them to do so, they should sweat for it. Newcastle did not!!!
    I believe we are a big club, and our benchmark should be really high, and thats the way to keep improving. If Newcastle score three, what do you think Bayern (Ribery, Robben, Gomez) will do? And dont think for a second that we’ll score seven…

    I know I sound a bit negative after such a win, but aren’t we all paying more attention to the performance? and the final 10mins aside, we are still not there yet, but we are growing. If Wenger buys the missing balance, we’ll be even stronger. Sadly, we play Mancity, Chelsea and Liverpool In Jan. If we are to buy we need to do it early!!

    Southampton up next. Am really confident of away games, another win please!!!!

  5. Induct says:

    Nice assessment Desi. I tot as much with Jack bt i tink Sagna was d big culprit for all d goals. Bt i must say i was most impressed wit Poldi as much as i was with manner of Walcott’s goals. Looks like tins are cool between Wenger and Bouldy now

  6. Nick from Portugal says:

    Bit harsh on Wilshire Desi! But if we win every game 7-3 we might start get more in the stadium which looked to have about 40,000 not 60. Southampton won’t be easy but we have to stay with this team tomorrow, would look to shift a few for the Swansea game, maybe play Rosisky and Ramsey and rest, Coquelin for Arteta? Could give Gervinho a run tomorrow given that he is off to Africa to play himself into form. I would also consider Jenks on Saturday.

  7. Nikkogunners says:

    Who is with me that change of formation will do us lots of good? 4.1.3.1.1, or maybe 3.2.3.1.1. Walcott play upfront, Giroud behind him, Carzola, Wilshere and Podolski, Arteta, Gibbs, Martasacker, Vermalean, Sagna and Sczenzny. However a back 3 of Jerkinson, Martasacker and Gibbs and a 2 man DM (Arteta, Conquelin, Vermalean, Ox, Ramsey can all do a good job bt i would recommend the first 3). Pros: Walcott and Giroud can be clinical as a unit. 2 DM would help in blocking attacks early and transitioning from defending to attacking. 3 Man backline sometimes make them more resposible and non will really need to be caught out as DMs can interchange and commence attacks for us.

  8. Nepali Gunner says:

    Immaculate analysis as always. And I agree this wasn’t Jack’s best game, although he did show flashes of genius as well.

    Theo: Great finishing, but still inconsistent still. I would love for us to keep him, but he is still not a guaranteed starter, and I would rather spend it on someone else (assuming we spend it).

    Interesting change of tactics for defense, which meant we ceded a lot of possession. But the first half was poor by the mid-field. The second half was much better in terms of pressing. Just defensive lapses are causing us pain.

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