Morning folks, and slightly later than anticipated, I’ve finally managed to get round to writing my view and an overview of the game! And prior to the game when I heard the line up, I was delighted that we were starting the trio of Walcott, Vela and Bendtner. With Sp*rs in mind, knowing that when our first teamers played, we failed to win at the weekend, I was dubious about playing so many first teamers, but against Newcastle, I felt there was adequate resting going on.
We hadn’t seen much of Walcott, Bendtner or Vela in the last 6 weeks, and they started in this XI:
Eboue – Djourou – Koscielny – Gibbs
Eastmond – Denilson
Walcott – Rosicky – Vela
With a strong bench that included Cesc, Sagna and Arshavin… in case things went wrong and a few youngsters in Lansbury, JET and Nordtveit in case things went right…
The game exploded into life straight away from the kick off with a focused and rampant Arsenal side closing the home team down as quickly as possible – Rosicky’s first contribution as captain was to nick the ball of the Newcastle centre back and played in Carlos Vela – the Mexican unable to finish – maybe it came a bit too early? From the resulting corner, Bendtner managed three shots in quick succession which were all blocked by the defence. It was a sign of intent and very clear that we were on a mission.
Newcastle weren’t just defending and they had an excellent chance when Szcznesy came marauding out of his goal, only to be blocked by our defence… the young keeper made up for his waywardness by making an incredible strike just moments later when Alan Smith sent a scorcher towards him. But, literally, that was it for Newcastle and we behind possessed to close, to push forward and to take control. It was clear that Bendtner and Vela were quite rusty, and that’s exactly why they needed this game.
An unfortunately battle outside our box saw an injury to Kieran Gibbs which later saw him substituted – with Sagna coming on and Eboue reverting to left back. We’ve heard today that the young English left back will be out for a few weeks with a medial knee ligament strain. And the game did have a few challenges in it, with Eastmond accidently catching a player too, which looked bad, but the player wasn’t injured – despite watching the game over and over again, I still don’t know the Newcastle’s players names!
Some inspirational skills and dribbling from both Walcott and Bendtner, creating chances, but nothing that really troubled the keeper… but the goal that all Arsenal fans wanted soon came! Albeit through a funny moment. With literally 30 seconds before the end of stoppage time in the first half! A corner was whipped in and clear, the ball was tossed back in and Bendtner headed it towards goal. The ball was cleared off the line by a defender only to hit the back of their keepers head and rebound back into the back of the net. After all the hard graft of the first half, we definitely deserved to go in a goal up!
The second half started quite end to end, but it was clear in the first five minutes that we could counter the home team as they went forward in search of a goal. Our second goal was controversial and it was some quite unsporting behaviour from Bendtner in the lead up to what was our second goal wasn’t great. As Djourou cleared the ball, Theo Walcott ran onto the ball and sped past the defence. Bendtner was retreating from an offside position and basically fouled their player on the way out – you can see Niklas look at the defender and purposely run into him. It wasn’t very nice – but having said that, the defender in question would never have caught Walcott – whom should I add scored a really nice goal, a nice lift over the keeper.
Newcastle threw Guttierez and Carroll on in search for a goal or two, and they did make quite a difference, with Newcastle starting to dominate possession – but we also had a strong sub to bring on – and Cesc Fabregas came on to replace the tired looking Vela. It was good for Cesc to get some game time after being out for so long. The next goal would be decisive and it was us that extended our lead further, this time through Niklas Bendtner, with a great finish from just inside the box to the top left after Cesc intercepted a Guthrie throw in and then played in Niklas for his 2nd goal in two games.
Jay Emmanuel Thomas came on on the 84th minute and he is a player I really really like – there are rumours that he is a bit lazy – but of what I’ve seen, he does look like he has something interesting about his game. An interesting reminder from the commentators that JET started off as a centre back and then became a left back, into midfield before becoming a striker – strange passage. A quick note on Szcznesy who pulled off a great save from a Ryan Taylor free kick with a few minutes remaining – a ball which looked impossible to save. Kudos to the Polish youngster!
We managed to get a 4th just to put he icing on the cake, as Walcott broke the offside trap to finish well, a la Thierry with precision and confidence. Walcott has come on leaps and bounds and that goal was his 6th of the season.
Arsene spoke after the game and said:
I am pleased with the performance. Saying that, the first goal was certainly the turning point in the game because we had a lot of domination but didn’t take our chances early on in the game. Then Newcastle defended with numbers behind the ball and it became difficult to score. We were lucky with the first goal just before half time – that was certainly a blow for Newcastle. It put us in a position where we could break much more because Newcastle had to come out and that’s basically what happened in the second half.
And it was a pleasing performance from the team – Arsene sent out a strong team and the team rewarded the manager with a good performance. The scoreline was emphatic and the players deserved it.
For me, one player who was a delight to see back in action and effective was Theo Walcott – he had such a good start to the season, it was really unfortunate that he got injured and to see him put in a performance like that was great to see! Arsene singled out Walcott’s performance:
He was sharp. He was very sharp at the start of the season but then he got injured with England against Switzerland and it was his first game back today. You see that he has improved his composure in front of goal, he has tremendous pace and his first touch is much better. The timing of his runs have always been good but his first touch when running at full pace is better. That makes a big difference.
So there we have it, better late than never… let’s hope Gibbs recovers soon and let’s hope we get back into gear for tomorrow’s game!