I’ll keep this blog brief as Kieran D is blogging tomorrow. Today’s game was an unexpected result to say the least. Losing at home for the second time to a newly promoted side hurts and I’m sure most, if not all of you reading this, will be hurt by that result. We had a shock result a few weeks ago when West Brom came to the Emirates, we lost to Chelsea where we played very well, it was tough result at Birmingham, but fell apart at Shaktar and today was abysmal. Yes, we won at Partizan, Man City and at home to Shaktar – but how good were we?
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t lost belief in our squad, but with such a strong team out today, with the return of Robin Van Persie to the bench and of course the return of Cesc, Song, Sagna, Koscielny and Chamakh to the starting line up…
Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Walcott – Cesc – Nasri
With a bench of Szcznesy, Eboue, Djourou, Bendtner, Rosicky, Van Persie, Arshavin
Many people called for Arshavin to be dropped to the bench, and he was today – with Nasri taking his left midfield berth. But it kind of backfired… as perhaps his presence was needed. The performance wasn’t all bad, we were good in parts, which some unfortunate misses, a lot of hitting the woodwork. Newcastle didn’t really pose a threat – in fact they only had one shot on target the whole game. The problem for us is that the only shot on goal was in fact a goal.
A ball was tossed into the box – four defenders and Andy Carroll, and in reality a ball that should have been dealt with by the defence… but instead Fabianski came to collect it and was beaten to the ball – a ball he should have never gone for in the first place. No doubt, it will open up the debate about whether or not we need to buy a new keeper.
The highlights of the first half were really Cesc’s free kick which rattled the cross bar and shortly after, a great shot from Nasri which was well saved. In the second half, we were more inventive and although we didn’t score, some our build up play was great, and to hit the wood work four times in a match is certainly a sign of an attacking threat. Koscielny’s late challenge earned him a red card, for being the last man – it was clear to all that Squillaci was also available but technically he was the last man.
Arsene spoke on the game and said:
I think against West Brom we were complacent but not today. In fairness the two teams who have beaten us here are good teams. They have shown that before and when we met them. I believe that today we were never in full flow. We played against a good Newcastle team who are a team of men [who are] strong physically and mature. Overall I still believe we were very unlucky to lose the game. They had one shot on target and that was their goal. Apart from that they defended well and we were not sharp enough to get them out of position quickly enough. We were a bit unlucky because we hit the post two or three times and their keeper made a very good save. We put ourselves in a bad position just before half time with the goal we conceded and after we came close a few times.
Personally, I think this defeat is down to a mistake from the keeper – and that was the goal we conceded – I also feel that the two centre backs don’t have adequate protection – something that has been common place in recent seasons. But for me, the one thing that stands out – how on earth can we still play 4-5-1 at home, with 1-0 down. I think only for a little while did we have two strikers on and even then, RvP was too deep. I really miss the 4-4-2 that we had in our previous seasons…
One thing Lee Dixon mentioned in MOTD2 was the fact that Chamakh was marking Carroll and Squillaci was marking Nolan for their goal. Bad decision making in that manner too, but it was a summation of the day. We were out of sorts, defensively and attackingly as a team and if we continue to have these “off days” then there certainly won’t be any silverware coming to the Emirates this season…