Arsenal win, Spurs postponed – A glorious weekend

What a glorious weekend.

It started early doors on Saturday with a pre-noon meet ahead of the 12:30 kick off against Newcastle. There is not much better than a warm pub and a beer when it is cold and wet outside.

We then cruised to a 2-nil victory to take all 3 points and move level with West Ham in 4th.

Then it was off wandering the streets around Barbican and Fleet Street drinking and spending far too much. The strikers did not stop us and the 12 hour sesh was complete.

And then on Sunday the marvellos news that the game between Burnley and Tottenham was postponed due to snow. Just 45 minutes before kick off.

Some Arsenal fans took to social media to say things like “all rivalaries aside, I feel for the Spurs travelling fans”. Not me though. I am a pety bastard. My first thought was “fuck them” as I grinned to myself.

And then I read the tweet of the Spurs fan who travelled from Texas. 31 hours with little to no sleep. The story made national news and got them loads of sympathy. I jsut thought it serves them right for being a Spurs fan. This would not have happened had they supported their local club.

Zero sympathy from me again.

As for our game, it was a hard fought win.

The victory would have been a lot easier had Auba not missed a first chance sitter.

Following his display against Watford, it was another poor day at the office for our captain.

In that last home game he cost us 3 goals. The Newcastle miss was one of the misses of the season.

We do have to worry about Auba.

He was poor last season and whilst he has 7 goals in 13 games this (stat paded by a hat trick against WBA in the League Cup), there is clearly something not right with him.

Is he now done? Past his best?

He certainly does not seem to the blistering pace that used to make him such a threat. I do not recall the last time he sprinted clear. Of course, he is not helped by teams defending so deep against us. But he just does not look as sharp, as deadly, as he was in those first 2 and a half seasons.

Some will use his bout of malaria and Covid as a reason for his dwindling physical attributes. And whilst this might be the reasons he is no longer the player he was, it does not mean we should not now be looking elsewhere.

Auba is 33-years-old at the end of this season. Without that blistering pace, his sharpeness, he is done as a footballer. He can not reinvent himself as a back to goal target man.

He will have a year left on his contract and with Alexandre Lacazette’s expiring (it should not be renewed), a new striker needs to be top of the list next summer.

Bring in someone who is more suited to Mikel Arteta’s play. Someone who can hold the ball up and bring others into play. And then have Auba as an alternative option and cover on the wings.

I thought at one point Gabriel Martinelli could be that option. But it seems the project of turning him into a striker has been put on hold.

He came off the bench Saturday and took his goal well. A brilliant finish.

It is itneresting in recent games that it is Martinelli who has come on when we need to change the wide-men rather than Nicolas Pepe.

Martinelli is just a more solid option if we are looking to see out a game. He works harder. Closes down and is safer on the ball.

Going into next season, I am happy with Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka as our wide options.

We perhaps still need to add one more – and I would not be upset if we signed Raheem Sterling.

But one thing is for sure. Pepe is done as an Arsenal player.

It was brave of Arteta to stick with the majority of the team that was spanked by Liverpool.

The easy option would have been to bring in Elneny and Tierney for Tavares and Sambi. But Arteta stuck with the youngsters.

It sends out a positive message to all the players in the squad – one poor performance does not lead you to be dropped for the next game.

Tavares was a bundle of energy on that left hand side.

He still has positional issues and too often left ended up central leaving his winger unmarked. But there is a very good player there.

Anyway. Hope you all also had a great weekend and a good old laugh at Spurs fans.

Wehave mid-week football this week. Manchester United away. Fingers crossed the weather clears up!

Keenos

MATCH REPORT: Arsenal 2 – 0 Newcastle United

Arsenal (0) 2 Newcastle United (0) 0

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU

Saturday, 27th November 2021. Kick-off time: 12.30pm

(4-4-4-1) Aaron Ramsdale; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhães, Nuno Tavares; Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Emile Smith-Rowe; Martin Ødegaard; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Substitutes: Bernd Leno, Kieran Tierney, Alexandre Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Nicolas Pépé, Mohamed Elneny, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.

Scorers: Bukayo Saka (56 mins), Gabriel Martinelli (66 mins)

Yellow Cards: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 66%

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Assistant Referees: Dan Cook, Harry Lennard

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Darren England; AVAR Mark Scholes

Attendance: 59.886

After last week’s bruising encounter at Anfield, the boys return to action today with a match against Newcastle United, who are currently lying at the base of the Premiership with just six points from twelve matches. However, don’t be misled by this, as there is many a sting in the tail of a team which is hungry to survive in this tough division, and as we have seen so many times previously, they will fight tooth and nail to maintain their fading status. We need to show our true mettle at all times today, and must not be complacent on any level in order to obtain maximum points. It’s more than important for us to bounce back in the correct manner to consign the result (not to mention the humiliation) of the previous match to the dustbin of history.

We kicked off today’s encounter, and it has to be said that the opening minutes of the match were quite sluggish, with both sides merely jockeying for positon to try to test each other’s players and formations, of course. It was becoming fairly obvious to all and sundry that between the two sides out there today, Arsenal were by far the most organised, and as such, were slowly gaining the measure of the Magpies in all areas of the pitch. Our possessional domination was good to see, especially when it came to the visiting side trying to put a few moves together; any one of our players were there in an instance, neutralising a problem before it got too serious. Both Nuno Tavares and Takehiro Tomiyasu were doing sterling work out on the wings, pumping balls into the penalty area for our players to grab, and Albert Sambi Lokonga was looking very impressive in his desire to open the scoring in these early exchanges; speaking of which, after a quarter of an hour our first real decent chance of the match came when his long-range pass found Bukayo Saka, who was desperately unucky not to score when his attempt went narrowly wide of the goal. It seems to be that long balls appear to be the key that will undo the Newcastle lock today, as when these moves are executed by our midfielders, the visitors’ defence have little answer. After twenty minutes, Martin Ødegaard fired in an excellent left-footed shot from a free kick just outside the penalty area, and somehow Martin Dúbravka managed to leap across the goal to push the ball away for an Arsenal corner. The defensive pattern of the visitors were causing us utter frustration at times, but the groupthink amongst our players seemed to be along the lines of “the more we knock, the more likely the door will open.” Keep on knocking harder, chaps. However, after half an hour, a Jonjo Shelvey shot from outside the penalty area was tipped on (and over) the bar by Aaron Ramsdale, which, leaving his excellent save out of this, was an object lesson of how not to be too complacent in these situations. Having had a wake-up call, we certainly need to raise our game more, and after a hiatus in play when two Newcastle United players collided after an Arsenal free-kick, we continued our high-pressing game. Just five minutes before half-time, a Bukayo Saka cross from the byline found Emile Smith-Rowe just outside the six-yard box, and his superb subsequent header was saved by Martin Dúbravka, who pushed it into the path of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose quick-reaction shot hit the outside of the post from point-blank range. How it was not a goal is anybody’s guess, but despite several great chances afterwards, we entered half-time goalless. How?

The second half began with Arsenal taking the bull firmly by the horns, and getting stuck into the Arteta gameplan. After five minutes into the second period, Bukayo Saka was unfortunate not to score when his accurate, but strong shot was pushed away by Martin Dúbravka, sadly. We started to ramp up the pressure now, with the game certainly getting more physical with tough challenges being metered out by both sides. Eleven minutes after the restart, Bukayo Saka scored with an excellent low left-footed shot that was drilled past the Magpies’ goalie after sixteen passes in which no Newcastle United player got even close to getting. What was even more impressive was the combination of passes between the players, particularly Emile Smith-Rowe and Nuno Tavares. Shortly afterwards, our goalscorer went to the floor, injured. Although he carried on, he looked in severe difficulty, and knowing just how important he is to both club and country, this was a most concerning point in the match. The goal certainly fired us up and into full body and life; as expected Gabriel Martinelli replaced Bukayo Saka finally after sixty-three minutes, and two minutes later, the substitute grabbed our second goal of the afternoon when he ran into the Magpies’ penalty area and collected a superb ball from Takehiro Tomiyasu and neatly lobbed the ball over Martin Dúbravka and into the net. Classy, classy stuff from our boys. The visitors started to take a few desperate chances with a couple of long-range shots, but they nearly all went either high or wide of the mark, which in itself was not only a blessing, of course, but judging by their poor shooting abilities was abut par for the course. Arsenal looked fairly confident now, and just before he was subsituted after seventy-four minutes for Alexandre Lacazette, our captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was booked for a messy and clumsy challenge, which was a shame, really, as it took away from what otherwise would have been a peerless performance by the boys. As the match entered its later stages, silly mistakes were being committed by both sides, and with ten minutes of the match remaining, we broke out in a classic smash’n’grab operation, when Emile Smith-Rowe released Gabriel Martinelli out on the right, who advanced and passed the ball to Alexandre Lacazette, who dropped a shoulder, lost a defender, and watched his left-footed shot hit the side netting. Thomas Partey was substituted for Mohamed Elneny after eighty-four minutes, and as the match started to slow down to its natural conclusion, both sides were having their chances on goal, but the score remained the same, despite four minutes’ injury time. A good, satisfying victory.

Make no mistake about it, this was an extremely important victory today against Newcastle United. Okay, the first half was a wee bit patchy, but after last week’s Liverpool match, the boys may have had a bit of trouble in the confidence area, but all that was forgotten as soon as the whistle blew for the second half. So many good things to talk about on the pitch today: Aaron Ramsdale was truly sensational in both positioning and saving multiple shots from a very dangerous Callum Wilson; Nuno Tavares and Takehiro Tomiyasu never stopped running and tackling, and it is to be wondered, just how Kieran Tierney is going to get back into this side?; Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe were their usual electrifying selves, whilst Albert Sambi Lokonga was just another class. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and both Alexandre Lacazette were unlucky not to get on the scoresheet this afternoon, and just how good was our supersub Gabriel Martinelli this afternoon? We are fifth (joint fourth) with West Ham United in the Premiership tonight, and with our next match being Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday evening, not only our confidence will be rebuilt today, but our burning desire to win and control matches has returned. All things considered, a very good day for all those involved with Arsenal Football Club.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday, 2nd December at 8.15pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

Victoria and Central Line strikes from 20:30 Saturday

A 24-hour tube strike begun this morning across 5 London lines.

The lines affected are the Victoria, Central, Piccadilly, Northern and Waterloo & City Lines.

The good news for Arsenal fans is that these strikes finish at 4:29am tomorrow morning so your travel to the game against Newcastle United on Saturday will not be affected.

However, a second round of strikes is scheduled for the evening of the 27th going through the night.

These strikes are planned from trikes are planned from 20:30 on Saturday until 04:29 Sunday, affecting evening and night services on the Central and Victoria lines only.

Services will ramp down from 19:00 on Saturday, with strikes starting at 20:30 in the evening and running through to 04:29 the following morning.

Services will be severely disrupted and potentially cancelled during the strikes.

She Wore