Arsenal 1 – o Newcastle United Afterthoughts
I only saw a summary on MOTD and extended highlights on Sky, so any additional insights are very welcome.
From what I could see, the key in this game lay with Ramsey’s positioning and discipline. Flamini is no Coquelin, and, even though he had a rest against the Cherries, he looked a tat knackered today. Matthieu is at his best when we play deep and compact, similar to the BFG behind him. The fiery Frenchman also really needs to play close to another DM to keep thins tight and disciplined.
However, this was a very open game due to Ramsey and Flamini not being in tune with each other, which resulted in leaving our defence far too much exposed. We got away with it due to Cech’s presence and some woeful finishing by the Magpies.
I also thought our wing duos got the balance wrong: good support for our attack from our full backs and wingers but defensively we gave away far too much space. In my view, playing both Theo and Ox on the wing leaves us light in midfield. The Ox offers penetration with the ball and Theo makes great, albeit it often chaotic, runs so there should be plenty to work with for Ozil (and Rambo). But Theo lacks a bit of composure at the moment and the Ox’s final ball is often not the right one. Not playing Campbell was a mistake in my view, as he just offers a better balance in midfield and is a similar outlet as Alexis to Ozil.
The Barcodes were simply too strong in midfield and they also did very well at keeping their ‘D’ very tightly protected…and it nearly cost us. Koz scored a priceless, ‘kitchen sink’ goal, after Giroud had out jumped a couple of defenders, to mercilessly rob all three eggs from the Magpies’ nest.
The team was clearly knackered and just fought for those three points with all they got till the sweet end, and luck favoured us on the day. When playing four games in just twelve days we should not overanalyse a game like this. It is a matter of survival, and with nine out of twelve points we did very, very well during the festive PL onslaught.
Now it is time to prepare for the next few battles, give some players a rest, get the mini hulk back in the team and hope for the Elneny effect. It will also give Wenger time to work out a better midfield balance, as Pool and the Orcs wil not let us get away so easily with leaving our defence so exposed.