Arsenal Win A Game Of Two Halves


Newcastle United 1 – 2 Arsenal

0 – 1 Giroud (24)
0 – 2 Giroud (28)
1 – 2 Sissoko (48)

It’s a fine line. Idealism and reality on either side, aesthetics and pragmatism. Add in fatigue and the lines become very blurred indeed. And let’s be honest, they blur on a game-by-game basis.

Arsenal took three points yesterday at St James Park and that is the bland statistic that the history books record. And when we look back in years to come – curmudgeons chewing the fat about seasons past with whatever beer happens to be in our hand – we will more likely than not, remember the bland statistic of victory than the performance.

Thank God for that. Perhaps while you’re thanking him, you could ask him where it came from because he seems to be the only one who knows. Let’s be honest, that second half performance was horrible. The first half continued the work of Monaco, asserting control over the game, dictating the outcome. It’s alter ego emerged in the second, no sense of rhythm and frankly, fortunate to get away with any sort of result, let alone three points.

Tell me Dr Jekyll, do you Mr Hyde well?

There was a sense of a European hangover with key players seemingly jaded. Fortunately David Ospina was not one of them; thankfully so. The Colombian proved to be the difference between the two sides in a second half with crucial saves – many of them instinctive – underlining the importance an in-form goalkeeper plays to any side, let alone one challenging for European places.

Speaking after the game, Arsène felt that tiredness was the sole reason for the collapse after Sissoko scored early in the second half. It certainly reinvigorated Newcastle and is the only aspect of the win which provokes any sense of consternation. Olivier Giroud’s brace brought his tally to nine in nine. It’s the sort of form we need going into the final stretch of the season. He capitalised on the generosity of the home side, a poachers luck with the first, a goalscorers instinct with the headed second.

Giroud is producing the performances Arsenal need at the moment and his confidence is growing. Given the performance against Monaco in the first leg, that he has not shirked his responsibility to the team and deserves credit for it. He isn’t an Henry and no matter of spurious interpretation of statistics is going to change that, but he’s never claimed to be. He is an international on ability and if he stops scoring, Arsenal not finding the net speaks more about the rest of the team than Giroud. No striker scores in every match and if the team misfires when he doesn’t, there is a serious issue in the squad that the manager will need to address.

The first half movement scared Newcastle into submission. Sanchez and Cazorla buzzed around the centre, drifted wide and wrought havoc, feeding a lively Welbeck. It’s a pity that Danny’s shooting boots had been left back in Colney because his efforts merited a goal. All the while, the defence shut the door and kept Newcastle hemmed into a cycle of meaningless possession. Monreal continued his masterclass on the left whilst Gabriel produced a seamless transition in the centre.

How it changed in the second when the midfield became jaded and disappeared, exposing the back four. Arsène waited ten minutes too long before bringing Flamini and Rosicky into the fray; it made little difference with the tide not stemmed with the changes. The ball became tainted and possession disposed of as quickly as Newcastle had in the first.

With the international break upon us, the question is whether the performance matters? With no game for a fortnight, we know that the next performance is likely to be as equally disjointed. This win keeps the run going in what, despite the three wins, was a mixed seven days. Disappointment mingled freely with pleasure at the Premier League form.

Whilst the next ten days are disruptive, they can be useful. It’s an opportunity for the players to freshen up, to have a break if they aren’t with their countries or to just take in a change of scenery. Yes, they will train but the football is less intense. That can also be the downside, those on international duty lose their club focus. With Liverpool the next Premier League opponents, they have to regain that quickly.

Analysing this type of match is fraught with danger; you get too focussed on the performance, taking it out of context of the season. We want Arsenal to win every match with a ten out of ten performance; it doesn’t happen and more to the point, never has, most likely never will. Sometimes you have to win ugly, play badly and nick a point. Arsenal played badly for forty-five minutes and took three.

We know there is still strengthening to do in the squad and God bless him, an injection of defensive confidence wouldn’t do Calum Chambers any harm at all, but this is a group of players who are doing the best they are able to at the moment have hauled themselves into a position where their ultimate destiny for the season rests in their control. They are showing what seems to be Arsène’s favourite characteristic; resilience.

And at this time of the season, that’s no bad attribute to have.

’til Tomorrow.

175 thoughts on “Arsenal Win A Game Of Two Halves

  1. Two Owls says:

    Agree with you completely Santori. If Giroud has a failing as a centre forward it is his lack of pace. But too much can be made of this lack of pace. He compensates for this in so many other ways. I think his intelligence, physical strength and technique are among his major qualities. As well, as has been mentioned above, Giroud brings his colleagues into the game. With respect to Giroud’s off days, many of those gooners who are in the senior category and have over fifty years of watching football, will tell your that they have seen the very best of strikers have days that were barren to say the least. That is the same for many sports in that players will often go off ‘the burn’. At the end of the season, Giroud will be up there in terms of his scoring in the league.

  2. Pistol Fish says:

    Ok so not a huge difference between Ozil and Dzeco give or take 10mi
    Same for Jovetic and Sanchez.
    Thing is I was pointing out these were the two player who are probably the equivalent in our team and not Giroud who Santori was comparing them too.

  3. Jonny says:

    Pet peeve of mine: people speaking in general terms about players being ‘always’ being slagged off and failing to clarify that they actually don’t mean on ACLF. Or speaking nebulously about ‘some people on here’ without being specific. Maybe I have not spotted it but I rarely see a player lambasted on here yet I often see that included as a retort, when some criticism has been applied.


  4. santori says:

    Sorry yeah take away one each then from us and Chelski.

    Its a tall ask. Possible but unlikely.

    Second is a strong finish plus the FA cup which we must not take for granted.

  5. santori says:

    Dzeko’s game is very close to Giroud.

  6. Pistol Fish says:

    So by your reasoning then Messi is not world class because he has never won the World Cup? Ronaldo too? Or Europe ?

  7. santori says:

    Ozil is more comparable to Fabregas.

  8. santori says:

    No but what is world class?

    Is Falcao then world class?

  9. santori says:

    And it was not that Costa did not win the world cup but he did not score in it.

  10. Pistol Fish says:

    Credit where it is due, and Giroud has been in very fine form. He needs to keep it up to be considered top
    Class. He started last season on fire and then ? O yes, he got caught fucking about on his wife, his form dropped to the point where we had to start Sonogo against Bayern. Then he shows up for this season unfit and out of shape.
    Sorry but I’d like to see more both on and off the pitch from him before I come around.
    He has been fantastic of late, but so was Theo before his injury and he’s pretty much been given the arse.

  11. C says:

    Chavs finding it difficult to break down Hull and Costa goes off with a hamstring.

  12. C says:


    I know mate, just wanted to help your arguement a bit.

  13. C says:

    The Hull GK just gifted Chavs 3 points, he has to make that stop. Ball was not hit with any real power and was damn near hit straight at him.

  14. Wavey says:

    I think your numbers are still a bit out though.

    The Chavs are on 64 points at the moment and if they only get 1 point out of today they have 65 points and 9 games left. That leaves them needing 6 wins and a draw if we win all of our games. So we have to beat them, Liverpool and Utd. And The Chavs have just nicked a fluke of a goal to make it 3-2. That puts them on 67 points and they need 5 wins and 2 draws out of 9 games to be level on points with out maximum.

  15. dukey says:


    yep Giroud is a human, of course he went to shit when he was in the dog house but tell me, what man would produce the same level of work whilst the wife is throwing your Edith Piaf records at you every time you came home.

  16. Pistol Fish says:

    For what it’s worth, in my opinion of world class is a very elite group.
    Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Zlatan, Iniesta, Aguero, Sanchez (debatable) Yaya Toure, Xavi,
    Players like Ozil, Pogba, Silva, Di Maria, Bale and so on are knocking on the door but still have a lot to prove.

  17. Pistol Fish says:

    As a professional football player I’d hope Girouds was giving his wife enough money to afford throwing her I
    Pod, or at least her Edith Piaf CD’s at him and not records 🙂
    My point though is he has let the team down twice now off the pitch never mind on it. I’m happy he is scoring because God knows we need him too right now. But I’m yet to be won over. I have no problem being wrong, or eating humble pie. But every time Giroud scores out comes the middle finger to every one who has questioned his ability or commitment to the cause. So it’s only natural for people to respond.

  18. Wavey says:

    i agree, I don’t think it’s on ACLF that players get an absolute slagging. I think a lot of us accept that Giroud is doing a good job for us, but aren’t sure whether it will continue. Maybe he is a late developer and we are going to get the very best out of him. Maybe its because players like Alexis and Welbeck are more attack minded and don’t just look to camp outside the box. Maybe it’s because we have better players around him than some of those from previous seasons (3Gs springs to mind).
    I’ve always felt that Giroud was brought in as a second striker with RVP being the main CF. RVP completely screwed that plan up by sodding off to Manure. I had expected us to buy a replacement for RVP and at one point we looked like that might happen (Higuain/Suarez). At the end of the day, he is by far the best option we have available to us at the moment and I hope he continues this run until the end of the season. Goals against Liverpool, Chelsea and Utd would be nice as well. I still want us to be bringing in that tope striker who takes over the main CF spot in the summer.

  19. dukey says:



  20. Pistolfish says:

    That’s a lovely set of breast Dukey! If that’s what they meant to be.

  21. Columbus Arsenal (MA) says:

    perhaps the biggest question of the day is why we are even talking about Girouds perceived failings a day after he scores 2 more to see us win.

  22. Columbus Arsenal (MA) says:


    We are always going to have our own thoughts on players. I Will however point out that Giroud has scored as many goals as Alexis in far fewer minutes played. When Alexis form slid who stepped up to fill the void? Will Giroud keep it up? Don’t know, will Alexis return to form? Will Welbeck score more goals? Will Theo contribute? Seems like a lot of questions for many players, but then as a team game I expect that is the way it will always be.

  23. Bill says:

    None of us has a crystal ball and it’s impossible to know what we will get from Giroud or any player next season. It’s pretty clear that we need significant number of goals from the CF position. We can’t assume that he will maintain this form or stay healthy next season. That is not slagging him off.

    If he does lose form the way he did last season or heaven forbid get injured again then we don’t have anyone on the squad who has demonstrated that they are even an adequate replacement.

    I understand the whole idea of being positive but we can’t try to build a squad based on positive thoughts and hoping for the best case scenario. Its fine to hope for the best but we should assume that worst may happen. I think we should add the best striker we can this summer just in case Giroud does end up playing like he did in the last 2/3 of the 13/14 season. That does not mean I want to jettison Giroud but scoring from CF is such an important factor for success that we need to have our bases covered. Look for a player who can compete with Giroud but also potentially play with Giroud. If Giroud does continue his excellent form then we have is a lot of depth. We clearly need a good option as a replacement if Giroud does lose his form or gets injured

  24. Jonny says:

    Wavey – I do like Giroud – he brings a lot. Personality wise I think he is a bit of a prima donna but that’s by-the-by. His M.O. was telegraphed in several articles when we signed him – namely that he has a nature of continual improvement. With that in mind I want to go on record now as saying that it would not be out of the bounds of possibility that he really answers the critics next season. I’m all for that but it’d be an unnecessary gamble to pin hopes upon it. The law of diminishing returns.

    We’ll see.

  25. Jonny says:

    Fuck you, Bill – I have two crystal balls. 😉

  26. Bill says:

    I agree with pistol fish and Giroud has let us down a couple timesin the past most recently this summer coming into game 1 out of shape. That does not mean that will happen again but if we assume that we have the CF position adequately covered and stand pat this summer and something goes wrong for Giroud for any reason then we will mostly fall out of any title challenge again.

  27. Jonny says:

    Why are we talking about it?? Forgive me but that’s a strange, daft question and appears born out of unnecessary defensiveness – one thing has nothing to do with the other.

    Alexis’s slide has been well documented too, so it is not as though he has escaped criticism and comment.

    Giroud’s goalscoring gets particular attention – because that’s his primary job.

  28. Bill says:

    IMO. CF and CB pairing are the 2 most impotant outfield positions. We started the season with 4-5 players who are #10s but almost no depth at CF and CB. No logic in that.

  29. Jonny says:

    Also why are they “perceived”? I for one was talking in tangible, evident specifics – I’d like to think we can appreciate and enjoy his qualities whilst acknowledging the concerns that affect the bigger picture.

    Or at least I’d like to think it’s possible without being moaned at!

  30. Birdkamp says:

    MA’s comment seems to have stung!

    Just kidding, sort of. I don’t know why you’re being so prickly, Jonny. I seem to remember you being fair with Giroud. Others not so much.

    But whatever, I disagree with the numbers game Bill plays, and I disagree that CB and CF are the most important positions (all positions are equally important), but I do agree that if LP and TW go there’s room for another versatile attacker. That and CM = good summer.

  31. Bill says:


    That sounds lovely to say that all positions are equally important but you cIver for a RB or LW or even cover for a DM who is just adequate. However you are not going to be able to win consistently without a good CF to score goals and a good CB pairing. The CF is the lynchpin of your attack and CB pair organizes the defense.

  32. Limestonegunner says:

    The situation seems pretty clear that Giroud has come on strong since his injury return. He’s a fine centre forward. He just scored two goals. He has his limitations but is proving effective, especially against weaker defenses and with the benefit of the threat, movement and passing of Ozil, Alexis, and Welbeck around him. It is too bad he started the season, like so many of our players, out of shape and unprepared. Since AW has been looking for strikers and DW seems more suited to a backup role across the forward line, I really don’t see why there is resistance to the idea that to progress next season and actually compete with top teams, we should be looking for a top class forward to add to the team. Futhermore, the Theo contract situation seems to suggest he might be leaving. We will need depth in players who provide clinical goal-scoring.

  33. Limestonegunner says:

    I welcomed CA back on the comments and his point about OG having a great game has merit. Why drag the guy down after winning us a game with two goals? Actually, I don’t think he was being dragged through the mud. The concerns are less about him than about whether AFC will do what’s necessary to improve the team sufficiently to make an impact in the big competitions next season. Doing that means enhancing our options for classy goal scoring forwards.

  34. Birdkamp says:

    Bill, GKs, CBs and CFs are the most specialised; but the most important? That’s impossible to judge.

    I don’t think any one position is more important than another. Tactically they all depend on their team mates.

  35. Bill says:


    This is a debate which there is no way to win or lose since it’s completely subjective. Ideally every player in your best 11 plays well consistently. However, you can win consistently without great play from your LW or RB but it’s very very hard to score enough goals to compete at the top of the table if your CF is misfiring and the defense does not work if your CB’s are not organized and their is no one left to cover if a CB or GK makes a mistake.

  36. Limestonegunner says:

    No Sky and a genuinely interesting match on, El Classico. Late on a Sunday night, do I have the energy to seek out a pub to watch? The sad truth, no. Playing football with Little LSG has absorbed all the extra energy a sedentary middle aged fellow like me has at the end of the weekend.
    I’m relying on C’s updates!

  37. Jonny says:

    A loss of patience Bird. “Why are we talking about this when..” sounds innocent enough and in most ways is but its a false opposition and misrepresents the tone and content of the discussion.

    If Giroud had brokered peace between Israel and Palestine, saved the white rhino, scored 6 goals against Newcastle and solved nuclear fusion the criticism would be no less valid or intended to offend or complain.

    It paints a false picture and then is used (sometimes) to launch an entirely unnecessary ‘defensive’ defence.

  38. Birdkamp says:

    Bill, this won’t be resolved. But now I know why you’re always going on about CBs and CFs.

    What’s wrong with central midfield? Isn’t that where the game is controlled? Don’t they offer support to the attack and protection to the defence? Many would say that they’re the most important; the ones that are responsible for a team’s identity. They’re meant to be the thinkers that represent the manager’s ideas on the pitch – in charge of tempo, organising the space between the lines etc.

    I think they’re all dependent on each other though. That’s the beauty of a functioning team.

  39. Jonny says:

    Also I think I am just feeling a bit prickly. 🙂

  40. Birdkamp says:

    The numbers game is a problem too. See, Ljungberg, Pires and Overmars were never crazily prolific. But in the seasons when the team came together and did something extraordinary they did chip in with goals. That says to me that it’s about the team. You need a finisher or two, but it’s much more important to get the chemistry right, because the goals will flow from that.

  41. Jonny says:

    I nominate Limesy as my spokesperson for the time being.

    A far more reasonable human being. Even though he is a terrible tattle-tale.

  42. Birdkamp says:

    I can sympathise with that, Jonny!!

  43. Bill says:


    Another way to think about it would be to say that below average play from your CF CB and GK have more potential to damage your chances to win consistently compared with the other positons on the pitch. IMO.

  44. Phil says:

    I think there is no doubt that Giroud is lifting his game to a new level.
    His hold up play has improved, and his little flicks come off more often than not.
    Also he is less of a Prima Donna.
    However, the more he scores between now and season’s end, the less likely that Wenger will buy an upgrade, and instead bring back Sanogo as Giroud’s deputy.

  45. Limestonegunner says:

    No updates–where is C? I guess it is Guardian MBM time…

    I speak now for Jonny. This is a big responsibility as I will have to care for grammar and diction with real scrupulous and punctilious attention. I don’t know. It was more fun reporting on his misadventures!

  46. Limestonegunner says:

    Let’s see how he does v. Pool, Chelski and MI away in the leagur and in FA cup Final, should we reach it. If he scored in 2 of 4 big matches, that’s a sign of improvement when it most counts. Even so, we need more firepower.

  47. Wavey says:


    Been busy warching El Clasico so hadn’t realised there was interest in updates on it.
    1-1 at half time, Barcelona scored a very un Barca-like goal first. A free kick into the box for Mathieu to get his head on the end of. A great Ronaldo goal with Benzema providing a back heel straight into Ronaldo’s path. Neymar should really have scored a goal just before RM got their’s though. He seems to be having a bit of a mare.
    In the second half Suarez got on the end of a long ball forward and stuck it away as he did so often for Liverpool 2-1. It’s been mostly Barcelona in the second half, but RM are getting half chances. Messi hasn’t been involved until the last 5 mins when he has come to life. 15 mins to go.

  48. Phil says:

    There is more firepower on the bench LSG.
    He just can’t get a run.

  49. Wavey says:

    It’s a bit of a lively match though. 11 yellow cards so far.

  50. Wavey says:

    On the list of world class players mentioned earlier, I don’t recall Benezma’s name. He is real class for me and is overshadowed by Ronaldo, but it is amazing how much work he does to make the players around him look good. He can score as well. A huge talent.

  51. Jonny says:

    Nice vocab, Limescale.

    Sympathy aside, CampBird, did you get my gist? Unlike Pistorius, I think it stands up in court.

    Philomena – prima donna is lower case, surely?

    As you were. 😉

  52. Phil says:

    I was referring to the lingerie range, Jonny without an H.
    Other than that, I think it’s cap P, not D.
    Then again, no caps work.

  53. Birdkamp says:

    I disagreed but I thought it better to drop it, Jonny.

  54. Limestonegunner says:

    Excellent updates, Wavey–thanks!

  55. Wavey says:


    No further score. Barca win 2-1. RM looked dead on their feet in the last 15 minutes and their goalie kept the score down.

  56. Limestonegunner says:

    Sounds like RM could collapse in the league and go out to Atleticoin CL if they keep this up.

  57. Limestonegunner says:

    And that would mean a shakeup of the team. Benzema, anyone?

  58. Wavey says:

    Alex Song and Clichy in the Sky studio. Song is terrible. If he thinks he has a career in TV after he retires from football he should think again. He tries too hard to avoid Barcelona or their players as he is still on their books.

  59. Wavey says:


    See my earlier comment. I’d take him, he works so hard up front. He can play hold up football, but he has skill and he is very strong. He’s not really fast, but he’s got more pace than Giroud.
    The gap at the top in La Liga is now 4 points and I think there are only 8 games to go.

  60. dukey says:

    yes we have a lethal weapon on the bench but wenger is playing the same bloody game he did the last time it was contract renewal time. oh your asking for this much but look your not even in the starting line up…

  61. Wavey says:

    Just checked, 10 games to go. Still plenty of time, but a 4 point gap is quite big at this point of the season in La Liga.

  62. Jonny says:


    Well, I applaud your restraint and sense. At the very least. 🙂

  63. Jonny says:

    Dukey – this farrago with Theo will run through the summer, I think. Wenger’s snide comments are illustrative of his feelings towards him. His agent must be a right cunt – a well natured lad, polluted by ego and greed.

    I’m sick of it already.

  64. Phil says:

    Is there anything other than assumptions that Theo’s after a massive increase ?
    This is smelling like RVP ( caps ok Jonny?), and Sagna though, in terms of a long drawn out saga.

  65. Phil says:

    I guess only Theo and Wenger know the truth about his non playing. However if you are on the bench, you must be good to go.
    So certainly appears this is Wenger playing games.
    If I am Theo, I am not sure I would stay if there is no trust with manager.

  66. Jonny says:

    Acceptable by virtue of being the most ubiquitous shorthand, Phil.

    Two pointed comments from the professor make it very clear that Walcott’s side are a fucking pain in the hole.

  67. Phil says:

    Or they just aren’t doing what Wenger wants.
    I did read about the process taking some time last time, and Wenger referenced that.

  68. Jonny says:

    Frankly he is paid enough. I’d guess we are offering 20K or so more. If he wants to argue over money I think we should let him go. He should be ashamed.

    We have invested so much faith, affection and money – I hope he sees sense.

  69. C says:


    I was out watching El Classico and then had a match myself. Wavey was pretty spit on and I would gladly have Benzema, would have taken him last season and wphld take him now. Suarez might not score as many goals (even though he scored again today), but all the work he does for Barca, the runs he makes, the space he creates for Neymar and Messi not to mention his tireless work rate, he really js a great fit at Barca and if clubs don’t beat them now, they might not get a chance come year 2 when those players arw accustomed to playing together.

  70. C says:

    While many assume Theo’s contract being put on hold is down to money, maybe he just wants to put them on hokd until the end of the season as he doesnt want to Deal with them now while the club is making a push for 2nd and being back to back FA Cup champs.

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