ARSENAL 3 – 0 NEWCASTLE UNITED
1 – 0 van Persie (18 pen)
2 – 0 van Persie (41)
3 – 0 Denilson (59)
September tomorrow and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Arsenal at home spurned a host of chances having made the opposition look particularly ordinary; the Arsenal passing and movement was the best in the land; Robin van Persie is injured.
A much-improved performance and three thoroughly well-deserved points, once more the Toon Army’s plans for global domination ripped asunder as Keegan’s tactical naivete came to the fore, an inferiority complex being transmitted by his players was reinforced as they were made third best in a two-horse race.
No doubt the arrival of Cesc has re-invigorated the midfield, bring forth the dynamism that was previously missing. It is not all down to one man for the defeat at Fulham has been shaken from the system and treated correctly as a wake-up call to be heeded. van Persie and Adebayor shook off the pre-season slumber and were performing to the high levels of expectations that they have set themselves.
Whilst the Togolese did not find the back of the net, he had a hand in all three that Given retrieved. Or more accurately, allowed N’zogbia to do so. The penalty was the self-destruct button that Newcastle seem so adept at pushing; there was no reason to concede with Adebayor’s cross no doubt destined for a Newcastle head. van Persie despatched it will force and accuracy, something missing from his game prior to yesterday. It is not as if there had not been warnings of what was to come. Gallas should have done better from close range following Sagna’s flick on of Nasri’s corner. Given saved well from Toure’s effort from range.
You know it is going to be a good afternoon when Eboue thinks he is Pele. Breaking from midfield, he and Adebayor combined well on the right. Adebayor found Eboue in the area and despite treading on the ball he backheeled for van Persie to beat Beye to score with a powerful shot. Not quite Pele, maybe his distant cousin, Dave.
It would not have been the current vintage if there were not a few scares along the way. Owen might have done better but with Ameobi providing ample defensive cover there was no need for any Arsenal intervention as the ball swept wide of Almunia’s post. Butt found the woodwork early in the second half before Nasri and Adebayor wove pretty patterns on the edge of the Newcastle area, ran into a dead-end and then found Denilson in space on the penalty area and suddenly, two of the four Premier League goals this season have come from midfield. A strange start to the season indeed.
van Persie almost sealed his hat-trick with an improbably angled drive but that was end of his afternoon as a Newcastle boot ended the Dutchman’s contribution. Disconcertingly, Arsene said afterwards that he hoped the ankle was not broken, X-rays today will show the extent of the damage. There was still time for Nasri and Walcott to be denied by a combination of good goalkeeping and poor finishing.
And pantomime booing emerged once more. At least this time, it was for Joey Barton who quite deservedly got a hospitable welcome. Which is where Nasri would have ended up if Barton’s studs were pointing a centimetre to the right. The Frenchman had his revenge which brought forth a bout of righteous indignation from Keegan. A sign perhaps that Newcastle’s problems in the manager’s office are not solved if he is more concerned with the thug getting some retribution before being suspended once more.
A good afternoon’s work with the performance matching expectations from before the season’s commencement.
In this morning’s News of the World, Peter Hill-Wood has told Red & White to go forth and multiply. Only more politely than that,
You don’t need billionaires…You have a lot of people spending a lot of money and it doesn’t work
Despite the newspapers unsubstantiated claim that ‘Wenger is thought to be in favour of the tycoon taking over at The Emirates’. Taken with Arsene’s post-match interviews, the signals are not to be too expectant of any new faces arriving at the club in the next thirty-eight hours unless of course, they represent ‘super’ value for money. PHW states the party line,
We are pretty happy with the squad we have got. We are not going to pay silly money for a player who is going to strengthen the squad only a bit
A fairly open statement, on the hand definitive, on the other open to massively wide interpretation, depending on the emphasis you put on written words in the sentences. The clear inference is that they have quoted some wild figures when enquiring about players; that to some extent is of the club’s own making. Giving newspaper interviews that categorically state Arsene could pay £30m for a player, no problem, invites inflationary transfer fees. It might soothe the beast that is the media and supporters but it adds a couple of million to outgoing payments.
The crucial ‘open’ nature of his statement is the last six words. Define ‘a bit’; ‘a bit’ of the technical ability of all of the players is a big bit; ‘a bit’ of their ability to mix it is a small ‘bit’. Finishing third last season by ‘a bit’ which is all that four points is, constitutes a worthwhile investment to breach the gap.
Arsene though might be fretting more than PHW thinks. After all, he has received the dreaded vote of confidence,
How can he be under pressure when clubs in our league haven’t won anything in thirty years?
Of course he is under pressure. The pressure that a winner puts themselves under to continue winning. Quite rightly, that is the only pressure that the Board should exert upon him for some time. They have to maintain their collective nerve under external pressure from the media and Red & White. They gave Arsene the leeway to rebuild, imposed constraints within which that must be achieved and he has done so. The least that he is due is the time from us and them to do so.