Newcastle Review: Three Is The Magic Number

Arsenal 2 – 0 Newcastle United

We went into the game as favourites according to football acca tips, 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 with big spirit, 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.

Unai Emery is a tad pleased with the win

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.

Inexcusable Incompetence

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?

’til Tomorrow.

41 thoughts on “Newcastle Review: Three Is The Magic Number

  1. Aya Gumede says:

    How you the hell was Ozil’s performance like Iwobi?

    Ozil was one of our best players on the pitch.

    Iwobi kept stifling our attack and flow, especially when he came off, things looked more fluid.

    Look at Ozil’s stats and stop jumping into the English media band wagon, there is no way you could have described Ozil’s performance as “struggled to make a breakthrough.”

  2. Dukey says:

    Rambo doing nothing more than what he had in his locker the whole time. Just needed a manager with proper tactics. Such a shame he’s offski, a real darn shame.

  3. C says:

    ferkov,

    Think he does just a bit but also lets not judge him off this match because he has been quite a spark for them. He also is getting used to the PL.

  4. ferkov says:

    Thanks YW
    ThankYou JG 🙄

    Do u really think Ozil failed to have an impact? Or is that meant to say someone else. AMN for instance. Tho he really stepped up in last 15 . Personally I thought Ozil was superb. Even with doucoure thundering thru from behind ,he nevertheless gave a stray pass, and by the second half they gave up that tactic as he’d taken the piss so much.
    Good learning game for Guendo too. Started out being pressed hard as he holds too long, ended up picking his moments much better. Missed Xhaka tho.
    Mustafi trying the long balls just shows how good Granit is.

  5. C says:

    Ramsey and Ozil in midfield, Emery has figured out how to get those 2 playing together and bossing midfields. Ramsey seems to have finally put it all together and less focused on flicks and tricks; instead focused on tactical discipline and doing what he does best. Ozil might not be setting up that assist but he is controlling the match and dictating play but also working hard for the team.

    Emery is getting them into form at the right time in both Europe and domestically.

  6. Pete the Thirst says:

    Absolutely. Will be hard to replace, but if he can chip in with some crucial goals in the run in he will enhance his legacy.

    Easily MoTM last night.

    Dukey:
    Rambo doing nothing more than what he had in his locker the whole time. Just needed a manager with proper tactics. Such a shame he’s offski, a real darn shame.

  7. Pete the Thirst says:

    Almiron looked a bit lightweight to me, a bit Denis Suarez, but it’s early days for him. Will take time to adapt from the MLS.

    C:
    ferkov,

    Think he does just a bit but also lets not judge him off this match because he has been quite a spark for them.He also is getting used to the PL.

  8. YW says:

    Personally, I didn’t think Özil pulled up any trees last night. A few nice flicks and passes but No end product. Stats tell you want you to see but I think Özil can produce more.

    I don’t need the media to tell me that. 90 minutes on the pitch suffices.

  9. Pete the Thirst says:

    I make you right on that YW.

    One step-over/flick move from Ozil caused a round of schoolboy masturbation from sections of the crowd. They sang his name and dribbled with delight………the move came to nothing.

    To be fair to him he was better than Iwobi, but Alex was having one of his evenings.

    YW:
    Personally, I didn’t think Özil pulled up any trees last night. A few nice flicks and passes but No end product. Stats tell you want you to see but I think Özil can produce more.

    I don’t need the media to tell me that. 90 minutes on the pitch suffices.

  10. Blue Yonder says:

    ferkov,

    ferkov: Personally I thought Ozil was superb.

    Agreed. Ozil was MOM for me. His passes were a delight, finding players in space, etc. Even giving his colleagues some stick on occasion.

  11. ferkov says:

    C,

    That’s him . Beast. Doucoure is the Watford guy? He’s better

  12. Blue Yonder says:

    I struggle to understand why PL officiating is so inconsistent and, on occasion, so poor. The mess in Cardiff was a disgrace: a player easily a couple of yards offside scores and it is allowed to stand.
    At the end, Neil Warnock, obviously fuming, somehow managed to hold his tongue and just stood and stared at the officials with arms folded. And some Brainiac on social media accused Warnock of “visually abusing” the officials. Good Lord.
    Anthony Taylor’s no goal call on Lacazette was almost as baffling. Even the announcers couldn’t figure it out, saying perhaps Lacazette had been judged to have obstructed the keeper. Now I read it was handball, even though the hand would likely have been the keeper’s.
    The players, clubs and fans deserve better than this.

  13. ferkov says:

    There’s a few difficult choices surfacing.
    Who was MoM. Rambo or Ozil. Don’t care really. Glad they both came off to deserved applause. Lacazette ran em close too.
    Who is the shittest referee?
    At least the Cardiff crew could share the blame. Anthony wins hands down . What a fuckin clown.
    Finally, Should Mustafi be fitted with stabilisers?

  14. C says:

    Pete the Thirst,

    Exactly, but I think the thing that does work for Almiron is his turn of pace and control which suits the PL; especially a counter attacking side like Newcastle.

  15. consolsbob says:

    YW,

    You can put me in that club too, YW. Ozil was decent in his possession but nothing much came of it. I was impressed by the heat map of his touches. He really did go everywhere in the middle and attacking thirds.

  16. Paulie Walnuts says:

    I thought Ozil was good last night. Not spectacular but he was always ‘prompting’.

    IMO he should start every home game against teams outside the top six. These should be games where we dominate possession & territory & allow him to do his best work. Last night , under lights on a slick surface with little pressure on the ball was made for him.

    Where I have an issue with his (automatic) selection is for all of the other matches – apart from maybe a handful of away games as I don’t think we’re good enough to carry him on his peripheral days.

  17. C says:

    Can I just say, there are few things in futbol that have brought joy to my heart like seeing Santi not only come back from his injury hell but play as superbly and with that brilliant smile on his face all season. Tonight against Barca he was ABSOLUTELY SUBLIME! He was the best player on the pitch not named Messi.

    Such a shame that his injury happened and us as Gooners got to miss out on Santi and Ozil in their prime. Just think, we had both Mozart and Santi in their primes but injuries and our medical staffs inability to get them fit robbed us.

  18. G4E says:

    As Fans….

    I think our responsibility now is to not start panicking when the team is playing the ball at the back.

    I noticed the crowds start getting nervous, shouting, and panicking which transfers a great deal of this nervousness to the field.

    New Castle should have used that to their advantage and pressured us more, but they didn’t manage that and Rafa admitted. We do not need to give the opponents an extra advantage, the abysmal Ref was Enough.

    In better words, we need to exude confidence to transfer that onto them on the field.

    With some reinforcements in the summer, there is hope for this team.

  19. Abdul says:

    Ozil didnt struggle ; he was the official man of the match.
    Take off your glasses.

  20. Mattack says:

    If Emery is happy with Ozil then I am. It appears Mesut is doing what the boss wants. Goals and assists don’t always happen but playing with Laca and Auba they should happen more often. It is actually good that there are differing views on motm – it means a number of players playing at a good level.

    COYG

  21. Bill says:

    Great review Yogi

    We have talked about match officials a lot this season. Suffice it to say the game desperately needs VAR and I agree that if PGMO is stonewalling it then they deserve plenty of criticism for their stubbornness.

    I have to admit that I was certainly wrong to believe that we wouldn’t put up a reasonable challenge for the top 4. We have a lot of away games left and things could still go wrong but we are certainly in the drivers seat.

  22. Bill says:

    Ozil man of the match?? That is certainly a case of if you look hard enough and believe something with enough conviction you will find it even when its not there. Its not a great feat to control the midfield at in a home game against a team which is fighting relegation.

  23. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Unlike the rest of you fan boys I’m not getting carried away. Our fate is in our own hands and that’s good enough for me. But with some tough away fixtures in between our Europa League games with Napoli, there’s plenty of room for a banana skin or two. Away to Everton and Away to Watford. Not easy games. Then to compound matter’s further we’re away to Wolves and Leicester. You only have to look at last night’s game to see that it won’t be easy. Hopefully they might be thinking of the beach by that time instead of looking for another top 6 scalp. Then we have B&HA and Burnley, who both might have something to play for to avoid relegation. Let’s hope they can play their way out of trouble prior to that, so those games won’t mean anything to them. I’m keeping my finger’s crossed, but it’s not a fore gone conclusion.

    Ozil is a great player. He wasn’t electrifying, but he did enough. But we can’t carry him in these away fixture’s. We need player’s who are going to stand up and be counted.

    (No fan boy drool here!)

  24. Bill says:

    I will give Ozil credit because it actually looks like he has been putting in a reasonable effort in the last month and that highlights how frustrating it must have been for Emery earlier in the season when often seemed like he did not care. We will see how long his new found attitude adjustment lasts. Full credit to Emery for his skill in handling that whole situation.

  25. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Fully agree with that Bill, it’s good to see him making the effort now and full credit has to go to Emery for his initial hard stance.

  26. thrill says:

    Decent win, sh$$t refs as we are all used to. Every matchweek is shaped and defined by these blown calls. Sure the positive/negative might balance out over a season, but sometimes these singular moments can be all it takes to push a team to relegation or bump them up to top4. It’s trash really because the league table as is contains how many bad goals in there? Between the dives, the offsides, the big strong CBs falling over when a tumble weed blows thru…

    One could argue the league table is as corrupt as the EPL and FIFA itself. In the ‘real’ league table you know the ARSENAL good boys are perennial title contenders.

    Whomever mentioned getting mustafi some stabilizers, not a bad shout. Maybe put a little harness around him with training wheels on left and right side so he can keep balance and learn how to stand up straight.

  27. C says:

    Bill,

    Not for nothing mate but it wasn’t us who gave him MOTM. I think you have this notion of midfielders that I find hard to really understand. Ozil is clearly playing in a different role, he is dropping that bit deeper in attack to dictate allowing Ramsey to push forward and make those late runs. Over the last 3 matches, that he and Ramsey have played, they have bossed the midfield rather it be United who was in form Rennes or Newcastle. We don’t know what will happen next but right now, when we needed something, he has been a key figure.

  28. thrillbo says:

    However most of professional sports seems to be moving in similar vein to EPL and the questionable calls are a part of it. It’s really crazy how sport is changing. The players are bigger, stronger, faster than ever. Yet the physicality is being removed from sport in favor of explosive offense, higher scores, less emphasis on D.

    The same applies in EPL. 30 years ago you had a bunch of out of shape drunk white dudes battling it out on a pitch. Now you have a global roster with the biggest and most athletic players from all around the world. Yet the game is as soft as ever. Refs are getting conned every week. These center backs are hulking monsters yet tumble like a little baby learning to walk. It happens every week and there is no consistency in the box. Sometimes you have major shoves and pushes, then you have a literal nothing play where the CB just falls over and it gets flagged? Tugging on someone’s arm doesnt cause your knees to buckle and fall.

  29. Bill says:

    C @ 3:34

    Full credit to Ozil for improving his attitude. His role has changed because the skill that made him special in the attacking 1/3 has faded over the last few years.. The thing that has been really changed and been the real difference maker in the last 3 games against ManU, Renne and now Newcastle is the fact that we have kept clean sheets in all of those games.

  30. Bill says:

    With Pea and Lacazette we have a decent amount of firepower. If our defense can hold up we are going to have success. The other thing which has really helped us is Spurs have imploded and ManU had such a terrible start and put themselves behind the 8 ball and left no wiggle room.

  31. Bill says:

    A lot of people have been complaining about emery’s man management and how he handled the ozil situation and his switching tactics from game to game etc etc. I think all of that stuff was mostly insignificant and it’s importance was greatly over stated. IMO the only thing he has done wrong this season was not doing a better job of fixing the defense for the first 2/3 of the season. Even during the wenger era we could put together at least 1 run of solid defending in almost every season. It’s way to early to declare victory and things can change ina heartbeat, but our defense certainly has improved over the last couple months.

  32. bt8 says:

    I’m not saying this to exonerate the Arsenal defensive record this season, which has been quite abysmal overall, or the insufficient defensive signings last summer, but injuries played a significant factor. Our worst defensive stretch was the lengthy period between Holding’s injury and the return of Koscielny from injury. The pairing of Mustafi and Sokratis never worked, whereas Koscielny and Sokratis have been much better. Both players will need to be replaced soon, though, bringing us back to the issue of defensive signings.

  33. Arsetralian says:

    Interesting chat as always
    So we think Ozil is playing in a different way?
    Are we suggesting he is moving into that Santi role of using his skills less for assists and more for control
    Hmmmmm
    That might work!

    Either way I am still irritated by that spawny Chelski win against Cardiff

    That was …annoying

  34. Arsetralian says:

    I did smile to see we can congratulate ourselves (for once) on one well timed offload.

    “Theo Walcott is facing an uncertain future at Everton only 15 months after his £20m arrival from Arsenal.”

    He is on £110k per week and is top earner!!

    Ker-ching

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