Arsenal 2 – 0 Newcastle United
We looked at third place and grasped it with both hands. A 2 – 0 scoreline suggests a comfortable win in most senses it was. Newcastle managed one shot on target and Anthony Taylor continued the weekend’s officiating incompetence by disallowing two perfectly good goals.
Injuries forced Unai Emery’s hand in team selection but the visitors failed to engender panic or chaos in the defence. Not even the obligatory Mustafi moment unnerved us. The German bemused by his own footwork, danced around the ball. The Newcastle midfielder alongside him stood and wondered “WTF?”; a sweet dummy thrown rather than the collapse of civilisation.
The epitome of the performance came from two players: Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey. As the spearhead of the attack, the Frenchman worked tirelessly and was rewarded with the second goal. Ramsey underlined why he will be missed with the opening goal but also for a hardworking performance which saw him leave the field suffering from cramp.
Unai Emery underlined how ‘big’ the performance was:
Today, being consistent and also taking a big performance. But withUnai Emery is a tad pleased with the win
bigspirit, I think we did that. Today, for me, is an important victory and it’s important to take this confidence and this position on the table. But I know Sunday is a big challenge and a very good challenge because each match is so hard in the Premier League.
He mentioned the previous wins in previous ‘big’ matches which formed the base for the rise to third. It might only be temporary with the new Swamp opening on Wednesday. They pencilled in Palace as the saps in the same way we did with a struggling Villa side in 2006. Things don’t always go to plan.
Anthony Taylor tried his best to make sure last night didn’t go to plan either. He disallowed an early goal when a Barcode fell over after a manly tug from Sokratis. It was soft, to be polite. Infuriatingly so. But the second disallowed goal from Lacazette? That beggars belief.
The striker went for the ball at the same time as Dubravka with the goalkeeper punching the ball into this own net. Not so, said Wythenshawe’s finest; handball by the striker! Dubravka was wearing white gloves…
I genuinely don’t know what to think of the incompetences show by English officials. Taylor’s errors were just stupid; effin’ and blindin’ last night didn’t alter that fact. There was a fair point made by Carragher about the Chelsea offside; the lino couldn’t see but surely the referee did? Last night, surely the lino saw the first and told Taylor it was soft as?
But I wonder what happens when assessors and referees all meet up? Do they console themselves and each other for not making the UEFA and FIFA tournaments? Does nobody look at the cock-ups made with VAR and what have you, and wonder why hapless Europeans are still ahead of the hopeless English officials? I don’t believe they do.
PGMO is football’s worst closed shop, far more so than the PFA under Taylor. Yet they resist all attempts at transparency. VAR is their great hope but the problem is that the hopeless officials are on the pitch and in the booth. You can’t improve with two sets of incompetent officials; you just get double the mess.
One simple step to improving the situation would be a controlled press conference after every match. Explain why the decisions were made. When the exocriation finishes, maybe chastened officials work harder knowing the public arena awaits?
Working to a Peak
Amid this, Arsenal battled to control the midfield. Ritchie proved a stubborn opponent and contrived to keep the score to 1 – 0 with an excellent stooping goalline header. However, Guendouzi, Iwobi and Ozil had varying degrees of success for their endeavours.
All worked hard, there’s no question of that but Iwobi struggled to make a breakthrough. So too, Ozil; neither played badly but both can be more devastating. Guendouzi did well, kept things ticking over but found himself on the wrong end of too many of Anthony Taylor’s decisions. What more can you say?
But overall, it was a pleasing night’s work. The first game back from an international break is always a bind; poor form, lethargy, rustiness – they all contribute to what is normally a scrappy performance. We avoided that this time with quite a few players not featuring for their countries but those late injuries and illnesses cost us cohesion.
We showed glimpses of effective attacking play, particularly the move which set PEA free, only for Dubravka to block his powerful effort.
Next weekend sees us move to Goodison Park and as Unai Emery noted, a big test because it is away from home. But last night gives us grounds for optimism that the trip to Merseyside need not be as treacherous as we fear.
Third and is that a sliver of a gap appearing?