Newcastle Review: One-Nil To The Arsenal

Newcastle United 0 – 1 Arsenal

On every level, Yesterday’s win at St James Park was ideal. Bar entertaining football; I’ll give you that.

Entertaining football, however, isn’t what was needed; a clean sheet and three points were. Let’s be honest about the performance; we’ll play better and lose. The air of preseason never lifted from the XI with stray passes and woeful finishes evident.

Sometimes from the same player which gives a prime example. While they were on the pitch together, Joe Willock and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ceded possession at similar levels or so I read.

It’s an instructive lesson in player popularity because Willock gave a promising performance. Mkhitaryan, on the other hand, was hopeless for large swathes of the match.

If he had been hooked at halftime, nobody would have complained. To the surprise of everyone, he wasn’t. Imagine my surprise when I read he completed 33 of his 45 passes.

The problem with the Armenian is that he too often shows the talent he possesses, making you wonder why he doesn’t do so more consistently. A sublime pass sent Aubameyang through but weighing heavily against that is the ballooned effort when scoring seemed easier.

Nicolas Pepe won’t be losing sleep about competition for his place in the first XI.

That’s focussing too much on the wrong individual for the wrong reason. Using last season as a benchmark, yesterday’s performance was a vast improvement. We maintained our defensive shape for the most part, with the only concern being that we left too big a gap to Reiss Nelson and Aubameyang.

However, throttling and subsequently compressing play had the desired effect; the home crowd’s apathy surfaced. Only when we became sloppy and ceded possession cheaply did they come alive. The hills certainly had eyes when Shelvey’s shot deflected onto the post.

Auba Through, Auba Scores

For the large part, we forced Newcastle to make unforced errors. When we retained the ball and threatened their penalty area, the fouled with no fear of punishment.

Martin Atkinson proved them right. Bodychecks and grabbing the neck of an opponent’s shirt by those in black and white were met with “Oh, you little tinker” from the inept official.

Looking at the ball in an aggressive manner whilst wearing a yellow shirt? A cautionable offence. Fair play to those who fell foul of Atkinson for not seeing red.

Unai was pleased with the performance. He made it plain that winning was all but went onto say:

I want to win, I want to score and I want to do a clean sheet. Today we won and we did that. The balance offensively and defensively is only taken with the victory.

Today, I think, in our 90 minutes we could do that with taking the match very seriously, being very compact and controlling the game with the ball. Also, I think we created chances and we need also to create chances for our strikers and today with Auba we won.

Unai wants to win. He really does.

To win you must score goals and Aubameyang’s beautiful finish proved the difference between the two sides. Ainsley Maitland-Niles sprinted to intercept a cross-field pass, gambolled down the wing and delivered a composed pass to Auba, who exploited the space left by an errant centre-back.

Basically, it was the sort of goal we conceded last year except we delivered it with more finesse. I can’t speak highly enough of AMN’s contribution; it was alert, instinctive, ambitious but calm.

Calm, Calm, Calm

That was the striking aspect, even more so than Auba’s instinctive finishing; AMN wasn’t flustered, didn’t suffer a rush of blood to the head. Maybe a place in the midfield for the youngster next season isn’t so fanciful a notion.

As a whole, the back four played well. Newcastle’s chances remained below double digits which given our away form last year, is hugely unimpressive. Half of them were from distance, offering a better view of the defensive unity between midfield and defenders.

Calum Chambers impressed in the centre of defence. His disciplined performance alongside Sokratis was a breath of fresh air. It relaxed the Greek as well; he was free to lead the defensive line and bring his own style of sh*thousery to the table.

As did Dani Ceballos; we may no longer be the genial pushovers of recent years. And Sideshow Bob sat on the bench throughout…

Overall, it was a game where we shook off the rust. We took three points, saw interesting cameos from new signings, as well as from youngsters. For a team which was missing half of what will be the first XI when all are fit, we did pretty well.

Three Things I Noticed At St James Park

  1. If Manchester United can loan Alexis, can’t we do the same with Mkhitaryan? It can’t be that hard, surely?
  2. Mustafi won’t even play in domestic cups or Europa League dead rubbers unless we put him at right back.
  3. That’s it. Two out is enough, especially if we get €30m for Mustafi.

‘til Tomorrow.

29 thoughts on “Newcastle Review: One-Nil To The Arsenal

  1. Thanks YW
    A win but very slow and ponderous in the main.
    Thought Xhaka poor throughout.
    Given the time taken over throw ins and goal kicks surprised not more cards and time added on.
    Lots of none yellows for cautionable offences too.

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  2. I was very surprised with the 11 Emery started with. I was really excited to see Nelson and Whillock and glad that Chambers kept his place. The comments of the SSN pundit and hosts pre match only added to the levels of smugness post match! Expecting the Arsenal to be soft touches, my Arse!

    I don’t like Xhaka and never have. Hopefully Ceballos or Torreira will soon replace him. Apart from that I thought the whole team did well, especially given this could well be our 2nd choice defence and midfield!

    AMN was excellent and deserves loads of praise, as does Leno, Chambers, Sokratis and Auba.

    And props to the manager for having the balls to pick that team.

    Up the Arse!

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  3. I think it was really encouraging to see the defence looking a lot more compact and solid. Not least as potentially our 1st choice back 4 could look very different in a few weeks.

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  4. Its abundantly clear that Xhaka is not up to it. My suggestion? Bring Luiz in and look at moving Chambers to replace Xhaka.
    Can we sell Mkhitarian, Mustafi, Oezil and Elneny?

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  5. I think you have more chance of finding a club willing to take Alexis than Mkhitaryan on loan. Michi has been shit house for 3-4 seasons, can’t imagine any club that could afford his wages wanting him and those that maybe are interested couldn’t afford him. Then again, Alexis’s season prior to him leaving us was pretty shit too, so he’s been off for a couple of seasons also but Alexis had a reasonable Copa which could make him more attractive proposition.

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  6. I don’t know which game you saw, but to assert Xhaka was poor throughout is just plain delusional and just smacks of ridiculous bias against a player. If he was poor, I wonder why the coach did not yank him off, except he must not have shared your perspective!

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  7. Bojangles,

    I expect that we’ll have to subsidise his wages but purely from a performance point of view he isn’t going to be an exciting prospect for many clubs in the top leagues. Maybe in Germany his stock is still a bit higher then over here.

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  8. nice job YW

    the mission is clear

    get back in CL – emery has a year left on his contract – and hes been backed by the suits and boots – all eyes are now on him to deliver and he wont get the same patience as the previous manager had for obvious reasons.
    emery nearly cracked it last year – a Europa league final and nearly (should’ve) made top 3 last year with a squad that wasn’t really his. arguably the holding and bellerin injuries played part in disrupting the momentum of a side that went over 20 games unbeaten midseason, as well as the rambo contract situation – if wenger would’ve have been in charge those excuses would have been spun forever by his disciples but emery wont get the same grace.

    its now pretty much emerys squad

    performances at this stage mean bugger all. its a results business and we need the results to form a solid base – the rest will follow in time as confidence and a style of play grows.

    for years we watching teams of the past, pass the opponents dizzy with 8000% possession and a million shots, only for all those shots to be off target and then lose the game 1 nil to a fucking set piece or a long ball.

    we had half a team out, it was pissing it down, a bunch of kids started, away from home as far north as it gets, an inept ref….previous years we pass it all over the place but get naff all and complain like fuck until next match day.

    this time we come away with 3 points and a clean sheet and look forward to next matchday.

    the overall performance wasnt spectacular – but who gives a fuck – we got the result and there were some individual performances that stood out which showed promise. all the young guns arent expected to be superstars already, nor be immediate first teamers…they just have to come in and do well when needed and they were needed against newcastle and they did well. job done

    special mention to AMN. he played a blinder – got kicked about 100 times but got back up – made at least two tackles off the top of my head to stop their flying winger getting at our CB’s and then his involvement in our matchwinner..

    keep it up young man. very impressive.

    another 1-0 next week will do me just fine. dont give a toss about performance – we can be on the back foot for 90mins and it can go in the back of the net off PEA’s arsehole for all i care.

    6 points from the first two games and we are in business. who cares how we play to get them…

    if we want a showboating performance lets wait until we play some part time goat herders in the thursday night cup. but for now, in the league we just need 3 points.

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  9. Jojo:
    I don’t know which game you saw, but to assert Xhaka was poor throughout is just plain delusional and just smacks of ridiculous bias against a player. If he was poor, I wonder why the coach did not yank him off, except he must not have shared your perspective!

    He wasn’t poor.
    He was piss poor.

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  10. Good stuff Yogi my man!!

    3 points, clean sheet with an XI that may never feature again…..I’ll take it.

    The younger players played well and even though they faded, they played well. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Guendouzi take charge of the midfield (until Ceballos came on) and looked like he is very much ready to take that next step in his development. Shout out to Maitland-Niles and Chambers who both played quite well…they played within themselves.

    Aubameyang does what Aubameyang does, score goals. I also thought, all the subs that came on showed well.

    Xhaka and Mhkitaryan, they each played one good ball and didn’t do much else. The problem with Mhkitaryan is that his passes that are misplaced, generally are the wrong decisions and kill moves which doesn’t bode well with Pepe waiting in the wings. For Xhaka, I think he is inconsistent I do wonder how those pivot positions shake out once Torriera is back, which I imagine will be this weekend.

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  11. Great post Yogi

    It was always going to be tough to score when the team only has one player on the the pitch who is any threat to score. If PEA had not scored we probably would have been shut out. Fortunately he did score and the great thing about yesterdays game was we kept a clean sheet and won away from home. We are not going to finish in the top 4 if players like Nelson, Willock and Mkhitaryan get regular minutes but we survived yesterday thanks to better defensive organization. When we get our better players Laca and Pepe on the pitch we are probably going to score enough goals and if we can play solid defense and concede fewer then 40 goals this year, I like our chances for the top 4. Emery the ball is in your court.

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  12. I agree with your point about Mkhitaryan and Willock being equally underwhelming but Willock getting praise and Miki getting slammed. We have talked about this for several years but a lot of fans tend to see what they hope to see rather then what actually happens. Any young player that we like always plays well no matter what he actually does. Ozil over the last couple seasons is a good example. He could spend the entire match searching for 4 leaf clovers on the pitch and someone would tell how well he played, but the average fan was not smart to understand his subtle contributions.

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  13. First game of the season away from home you’d take a 1-0 win all day long.

    One thing that strikes me, not just on this game, is how many pundits have condemned or knighted players based on one game.

    I don’t think anyone really stood out or was particularly poor. Xhaka and Miky were ok, they gave the ball away a fair bit but so did AMN from what I remember.

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  14. Jojo:
    Jonnygunner
    You are either a child or just a moron!

    Nope-its just that my opinion is different to yours.
    Granit always has a mistake in him…or a card…sideways passing,backwards passing.
    He far from the finished article and he certainly isn’t up to Arsenal standards.

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  15. Jojo,

    Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. No need to be rude if you disagree with someone else’s opinion though unless of course you have no logic argument to back up your point of view and have to fall back on childish name calling.

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  16. Opinions seem divided between “a win is a win” and “we should do a lot better”. For me, a 1-0 win is never comfortable, for obvious reasons, and leads to endless “what ifs”. Hopefully, Emery can address the areas he feels need attention. The most glaring need-to-fix area IMO is passing – surely a simple one? But poor passing has been an Arsenal fault for a few seasons. Perhaps fewer intricacies and more fundamentals on the practice field?

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  17. A trip to the NE or NW was almost always viewed with apprehension by fans in the late-Wenger years. Opponents would put up a wall, try to catch us on the break and to bully us off our game. And very often it worked. Add to these, some bad weather at times. Some of these were tried yesterday but without success. The weatherman did his part. too. But Arsenal weathered (had to say that) everything and emerged victorious – and with a clean sheet.
    These are take-aways to build on.

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  18. Richard Compton,

    It’s been said, following his loan spell at Fulham, that midfield is where Chambers is best suited. Yesterday he was needed in the back line and played well but a swap-out for Xhaka could well be in the cards.

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