It was another ugly win but ultimately this win brings Arsenal to the top of the table. Both Newcastle and Arsenal were not bright in the first half, failed to threaten other goals except for the last moment for Newcastle when they hit the bar from the corner. Arsenal was the more effective side, scoring goal from their first clear cut chance. Theo Walcott chipped the freekick and Giroud found the room between Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini and headed it. It was his first goal for the last few games, and surely it would gave him boost of confidence to find the net. Newcastle was pushing hard for equalizer in the closing stage of the game, but Arsenal defended well and ensured 3 points, as well the top spot of Premier League till New Year, regardless of Chelsea vs Liverpool result.
It was a really tough test for Arsenal. We came to top six team's home without two of our best player, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil, and our captain who are usually ready on the bench was out because of illness. Newcastle was unbeaten for the last 6 matches and they had beaten Manchester United in Old Trafford, where we lost 0-1. In addition, Olivier Giroud wasn't particularly sharp in front of goal lately, and Gooner has been wanting him to be dropped from the team, but Wenger didn't do so, a decision that later gave Arsenal three points as Giroud scored the winning goal. From the brighter side, Koscielny was back from injury and partnered Mertesacker in the defence.
|Giroud celebrates his goal. |
Photos from Arsenal facebook page by Stuart MacFarlane of Arsenal FC
The first half was one of our worst attacking performance, but our defence was solid as usual, the passes were not linked well, and most of our chance are from long, weak shot. Walcott nearly find a good space on one occasion but the pass from Rosicky was too far from him. But generally it was a boring first half. Newcastle on the other hand was not bright either but did came close to scoring twice at the injury time of the first half. Second half was almost the same and Arsenal were not sharp in the final third of the Newcastle penalty area, but Walcott was able to send a simple - yet terrific - freekick to find Giroud and the Frenchman made a touch to beat Tim Krul.
Giroud found goal, finally, and this goal hopefully will boost his confidence and silence some critics. He did look a bit short of confidence after miskicked an easy chance after the goal. The backfour is once again solid, particularly Sagna and Mertesacker who are faultless today. Mertesacker did few crucial interception and clearances as we registered a clean sheet (finally). Koscielny might have given away a ball away led to dangerous chance for Newcastle, but otherwise he was solid. Gibbs was uncomfortable down the right as most of Newcastle attack was from that side, but still delivered a decent performance. Szczesny funny moment almost cost us 3 points when he kicked the ball straight to Loic Remy but luckily the ball out of the play from deflection. It's not the first time he did that (remember that kick to Sturridge in our 2-0 victory against Liverpool). He must be more careful next matches not to do the same, next mistake might lead to a goal (well like Schalke's goalkeeper against Chelsea).
Another ugly win, and we have faced all of the Premier League teams and stayed on top. Next few games are a winnable games if our feet can be kept on the ground and play our normal game. Can we say that we can challenge for title? Yes we have half of the season again till the finish line, but as Wenger said, "If you don't believe yourself, you can't go anywhere". I think Arsenal have potential to win something at the end of the season, if we can maintain the winning habit. One or two purchase at January might help us to keep the top spot.
Well, at least, all Gooners celebrating New Year while their team on the top. COYG!