Newcastle review: Theo underachieves as the Gunners get the points

Ox grabs the winner

Like I said before the game, away days at St. James park are always hard. Yes, we still manage to win there, but our last three meetings with the Toons (now four) finished with a solitary goal to separate the two teams: 1-0, 2-1, 1-0 and 1-0.

However, there are different kinds of hard. Yesterday’s game proved hard to win because from 15th minute onwards Arsenal played 11 vs 10. We generally find it tough going to beat deep sitting teams with even squads, but that sending off ensured attacking was never really on Newcastle’s mind. Even late introductions of Perez and Cisse didn’t change that: McLaren’s side finished the game with only one shot (off target) and 26% possession. On the up side, Cech racked his second consecutive clean sheet without breaking a sweat, something he thoroughly deserved after putting in a monumental performance on Monday.

Theo Walcott

Just when I gave up predicting changes to the team, three happened at once: Kos for Chambers (expected), Oxlade for Ozil (the German suffered a minor knee injury) and Walcott for Giroud. The last change took me by surprise and eventually proved ineffective:

“I expected more space for Theo Walcott. At the start it looked quite promising but after 15 minutes it was a different problem for us. There was no space behind their defenders, the service through their lines was very difficult and they defended very well.”

In these 15 minutes, Walcott squandered a brilliant chance after being set up by Bellerin. Theo reappeared 15 minutes later (to spurn another opportunity after Krul parried Sanchez’s effort straight into the Englishman’s path) before vanishing in his entirety.

As Arsene always does, he persevered with his starting XI up until 70th minute and so Theo wasn’t subbed earlier. During these 70 minutes, Walcott  made 17 (!) touches: 3 shots (1 on target), 12 attempted passes (10 completed), 1 dribble and 1 ball recovery.

What I’m driving at is that Walcott was utterly useless up front. Despite his shortcomings, Giroud did more in his 20 minutes and that includes a shot in frustration and spurned big chance late on.

Not the best day for Theo

Not the best day for Theo

Aaron Ramsey, MoM

Yes, he was my Man of the Match. This game showed he is not a playmaker (Ozil, we need you), however we wouldn’t have won the game had it not been for Aaron Ramsey.

The Welshman had an 89% pass accuracy (89/100 passes completed), made 5 ball recoveries, created 5 chances for teammates (all from open play) and finally, his only shot on target (of two attempted) led to the only goal scored.

Aaron is not a 10 and I doubt he won’t feature there with a fit Ozil, but he made a vital contribution in this position yesterday.

Rambo made a vital contribution

Rambo made a vital contribution

Francis Coquelin

He had one of the best passing accuracies on field (69/73 – 95%), his long pass led to the penalty incident and his only successful dribble led to a dangerous free-kick, however it was his defensive contribution (as always) which played a massive part in keeping a clean sheet.

5 tackles (3 on the flanks, so he most likely stopped three counter-attacks), 11 ball recoveries, the Frenchman drew 3 fouls, one of which was a straight red for Mitrovic and finally, he showed immense maturity. It was obvious Steve McLaren sent out his goons to “rough Arsenal up”, yet Francis kept his composure and didn’t commit a single foul, let alone get a yellow. Bravo.

Francis wasn't fazed by Newcastle's tactics

Francis wasn’t fazed by Newcastle’s tactics

Putting the result into context

This performance was far from what is needed to mount a proper title challenge, however, let’s not diminish the importance of this win. Looking at other results, I realised just how vital it was.

City continued their impeccable run by beating Watford and now have 12 points in four games with 10 goals scored and 0 conceded, while both Liverpool and Chelsea lost (both at home). United, meanwhile, have a tricky away trip to Swansea later today and you don’t need me to remind you how Swansea played against us and United last year.

Transfer window

Yesterday Wenger said he remains open to strengthening in any position:

“We are open and we are in the transfer market. If we find an exceptional player in any sector, we will do it. At the moment I don’t know if something will happen or not.”

The Frenchman also remains positive overall and I do think we are in for a late surprise. If you ask me, I think Arsene has a striker in mind, though I’m not quite sure who that might be. I’m still convinced in the market where strikers are at a premium it’s easier to buy a winger and try Sanchez at centre-forward. The Chilean had a very positive performance yesterday. He took 7 shots (4 blocked, one off target, the other two made Krul work hard), created 2 chances and even had 6 ball recoveries. He also drew 5 fouls, some of which earned a yellow for the perpetrators. A lively performance from him, looks like he’s almost at his best.

Right, that’s your lot for today. A bit short from me, but not much to talk about really. Hope we’ll add another arrow to our quiver when I next write.

Until later

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2 Responses to Newcastle review: Theo underachieves as the Gunners get the points

  1. Astro August 30, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    we fans have problem, if a team is losing or struggling to win we call out for reinforcement. in the case of Arsenal we are always short of 2 to 3 players every season according to both fans and sport analysis.

    we did miss Ozil yesterday and also Grioud because Walcott is not a striker. also from that game we can see that Ox is not a starter player, he is better when he comes in as a substitute just as the game against Liverpool.

    here in my region the fans keeps abusing AW for not buying players and at the same time not going for Pedro when he was available. the question is most we go for all the players our rivals are buying? here was Pedro yesterday when Chelsea lose?

    man u lost today with Rooney and co. also Liverpool loss yesterday with bentelka. are they not strikers. so please let try and support our players when they are playing well or not than direct abuses on them. maybe that we improve our home games.

  2. DEW August 31, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    Yes it was important result. I am strong fan of Walcott, but I agree with you about his yesterdays performance. As some fans said his body language in the game was worrying. But even with that kind of performance, he provides the team a unique advantage Giroud can not. his pace in the mind of opponents defense. They defend deep. That makes the game simpler for us. You may say that we are not good in scoring in such circumstances, but we still manage to create several chances and score a winner.

    When we see games when Walcott starts up front we look less threatened and had relaxed game at the middle. Honestly, I agree with you he is not strong big guy visible to the team and that can lead the line. Honestly again, at the moment, you will not find a striker with pace, finishing and physical qualities in the market. Walcott is a very fast player with excellent movement and and quality finishing he has to work on that. He scares the opponents defense back not their front like what Giroud did.

    You may start with the easy target big guy (Giroud – he is good striker though), but his lack of pace means that arsenal will be dominated at the middle and will have difficult game. like westham, like what liverpool manager has said ‘space domination’. Walcott was an impact player as winger, but he can not be impact player up front. He has to start to rip his benefits. Because he is not easy targer, rather he gives a complex tactical advantage to the entire team.

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