Arsenal vs Newcastle United: Five talking points
Arsenal put Newcastle to the sword last night at the Emirates stadium in one of the most entertaining Premier League games in history. Arsenal beat the visiting Magpies 7-3 in one of the highest scoring games in the Premier League history. ‘Wee’ Newcastle weren’t really all that bad, but an excellent individual performance from contract rebel Theo Walcott destroyed Newcastle in an emphatic fashion, after the score was tied 3-3 with 70 minutes having been played.
Returning substitute Olivier Giroud scored a rather easy brace of goals after coming in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Demba Ba too scored a double at the other end for the visitors in a remarkable game that saw them come from behind three times before being swatted aside by the rampant Gunners.
Five major talking points from the victory were:
1) Theo Walcott deserves his contract
Theo Walcott has been training with his mentor and Arsenal’s greatest ever player Thierry Henry all week. Under the watchful gaze of the Frenchman, Walcott, starting in his favoured central position, ripped Newcastle to shreds in an extremely frenzied game. His first goal may have been clearly offside, but took the goal with finesse and style reminiscent of the French legend. He missed out on two other opportunities to further Arsenal’s lead in the first half, but made up for it with a delightful second half showing.
The second half was far more open than the first, and Walcott made the most of it. He made an excellent turn in the midst of the chaos of the penalty area to smash the ball into the net and put the Gunners 4-3 ahead. A perfect cross to Giroud resulted in an easy goal for the striker, as Walcott displayed his capabilities out wide as well. He seemed like a man possessed, determined to get his hat-trick, and would not be denied.
Breaking through the Newcastle ranks on the side after a short free quick, Walcott tapped the ball home past a hapless Krul to put the final icing on the cake. Walcott may not be perfect, and he showed that on few occasions. But losing him would be another huge blow for Arsenal, and accepting his wage demands must seem a lot easier now.
2) Newcastle are too good for relegation
In the space of of four days, Newcastle United scored six goals at Old Trafford and the Emirates. Only a slight problem. They conceded eleven. The Magpies matched the home side for 70 minutes before fatigue gave way and the floodgates opened. The fact that Arsenal didn’t play on Boxing Day was a crucial factor at the fag end, because the visitors would’ve otherwise certainly left with a point.
Their defence was terrible, but it can only be expected when a buttload of first-team players are injured. The likes of Steven Taylor, Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Gutirrez all missed out. The visitors should be proud of their performance, despite losing their fifth away match in a row. Which makes it eight defeats in ten games for the Magpies. Demba Ba, Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux had fine outings, and Chiekh Tiote also performed admirably before running out of steam.
While it’s a long season, the ‘wee’ club still have time to get back on track but cannot become too complacent. After all, better teams have been relegated.
3) What happened to the defenders?
When ten goals are scored in a Premier League match, you cannot not say that the defence had nothing to do with it. Extremely shoddy work from both teams, as the Perch-Coloccini partnership never looked likely to succeed, given the duo’s unfamiliarity with each other. They were easily over-run by Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Podolski was regularly leaping past Danny Simpson. While Simpson made a few attacking contributions for the visitors, he was time and again torn apart by Podolski and Gibbs.
Arsenal’s defending on the other hand was downright horrendous, with Newcastle’s second goal the focal point of everything wrong with the defence. Marveaux easily tapped the ball in after being fed by Obertan, who easily went past Sagna. There weren’t any defenders for miles, as the likes of Gibbs and Koscielany failed to see his run. One of the easiest goals a striker can ever score. If the match hadn’t gone Arsenal’s way, the media would’ve spent the day coming with up colourful adjectives for the schoolboy-like defensive performance.
Thomas Vermaelen too didn’t have the going very easy, as he struggled to deal with the aerial threat of Ba. It was a fascinating battle to watch, but conceding three goals is something that the captain will not be too happy about.
4) Jack Wilshere was excellent
Behind the Walcotts, the Chamberlains, the Girouds and the Podoloskis was a certain youth product of the Gunners academy. Wilshere was imperious against Newcastle, as he dominated the midfield and won the battle against Tiote. His energy and drive started numerous attacks for Arsenal, and was extremely unlucky not to get himself on the scoresheet or get an assist for himself. One unfortunate deflection from the Demba Ba free-kick led to Newcastle’s first equalizer, but that’s hardly something you can blame Wilshere for.
He played a crucial role in the build up to Podolski’s goal by providing a beautifully clipped ball to the back post. Ran the midfield with Cazorla and Arteta, and seems to be improving with every game he plays.
5) Arsenal are back on track
Yesterday’s victory was the Gunners’ fourth straight victory since the shocking 2-0 loss to Swansea City at home. Playing like true champions, Arsenal now only sit three points behind arch-rivals Tottenham with a game in hand and a far superior goal difference. They are hitting form at the perfect time, as big fixtures against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool are lurking on the horizon. Their next home game is against City, a must-win for the defending champions who now trail United by seven points.
A 17th consecutive Top 4 finish is certainly on the cards and improvements in key defensive areas will do nothing but help their cause. It’s still a very open season, as numerous sides are fighting it out for the last coveted spot. Stability is the key for Arsenal and tying Theo Walcott down will greatly improve the mood around the club.
As it is with the Premier League, anything can and will happen.