Tag Archives: Newcastle

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.

Should football fans care where their owners money comes from?

Yesterday the takeover of Newcastle United finally went through.

Following a court case, a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium bought the club for £350m from Mike Ashley.

The Newcastle fans celebrated like they had one the lottery.

Part of the celebrations was due to the departure of Mike Ashley – an owner they have hated from almost the day he took over.

The other part of the celebrations is that they see the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) takeover as a a quick route to winning the league.

Their fans have seen Chelsea, Manchester City and PSG bank rolled to success. And the wealth of the PIF blows all of their owners oit of the water.

They think being owned by PIF will see billions spent on new players and the side bankrolled to their first league title since 1927.

But at what cost would this success be bankrolled to and should fans care?

Amnesty International have urged the Premier League to review their decision and take into account the horrendous human rights issues in Saudi Arabia. They state:

“As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation. The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules.”

We have mentioned sportswashing numerous times in this blog.

From day one when Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea I questioned whether someone who built his wealth in questionable circumstances should be applauded.

When Alisher Uzmanov looked to take over Arsenal, I took the stand that I did not want his kind involved in Arsenal.

I would rather win nothing than be bankrolled to success by someone with Usmanov’s questionable history.

At Manchester City, the ‘Manchester thanks you Sheikh Mansour’ banner has always left a sour taste in my mouth.

Sheikh Mansour is a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi and deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

The 2021 Human Rights Watch reportfor the UAE makes grim reading.

Manchester City fans turn a blind eye to what is happening in the UAE. The lack of democracy, modern slavery. These things seem to not matter when you are winning trophies.

And the same is seemingly happening at Newcastle.

Their fans seem to not care about the human rights abuses that occur on a daily basis. They just want to be bankrolled to success.

How many of their fans joined a BLM March over the last 2 years. Have pointed out corruption in the Conservative party. Have spoken up against racism and inequality in the UK.

How many of their fans have tweeted that slave owners statues in the UK should be taken down – meanwhile they celebrate slave owners buying their club.

PIF probably will bankroll Newcastle to their first trophy since 1969. It will be written as another glorious story of a sleeping giant returning to its glory days. A bit like Manchester City.

Personally, I would rather win nothing than be owned by a state with a horrendous human rights record that is basically using my club to wash over that record.

I would rather win nothing than be owned by a former KGB agent that earned his billions during the break up of the Soviet Union.

Hopefully I am not alone in this. I have my morals and they will not change regardless of my football clubs success.

But many people do not seem to care who owns their club as long as they are being bankrolled to success.

So I ask the question; should football fans care where the money comes from?

Keenos

Rob Holding departure a “good deal for all parties”

I love Rob Holding.

In the modern era of footballers, he is a bit of a throw back.

A no nonsense defender not concerned with how he looks or chasing fame and celebrity. He turns up, does his job and goes home.

has not been groomed for stardom from a young age. Just a working class normal lad who happens to be good at football.

It is so hard to connect with most footballers these days but Holding was one that was easy to like. If felt like he was me or you. Just better at football.

Holding is an underrated player who was integral to us winning the FA Cup in 2016/17 and 2019/20. I do not think his efforts in both of those victories should be underestimated. He does not have a couple of medals in his cabinet due to being someone who sat on the bench and never contributed. He deserves those medals.

So despite my love in with the balding Holding, I would also not be too upset to see him leave.

For everything to like about Holding, he does not quite have it to be a top 4 footballer. And that is what Arsenal need right now.

His lack of pace sees him getting caught out when going wide to cover Hector Bellerin, and often means Arsenal have to sit deeper than Mikel Arteta perhaps wants to.

Holding is capable of some immense performances, but he is also liable to many lapses of judgement throughout the season.

Playing for a mid-table team, his immense performances will be more important than his lapses of judgement. But if you are chasing Champions League football, you need defenders who make very few mistakes.

Arsenal have spent £50million on Ben White this summer.

White is quicker than Holding, better positionally and a superior passer. Everything that Arteta wants.

There is a reason why White and not Holding went to the Euro’s this summer.

Holding is the level below White. He would play second fiddle to his fellow Englishman.

Holding has a desire to make the England squad for a major international tournament.

In a recent interview he said:

“When the squads were being announced, I had my eye on it. You never know, so I was looking. It didn’t happen for me this time but that’s not going to deter me or make me feel it’s never going to.”

This summers tournament would have been Holding’s best chance of making an England squad.

With 30 Premier League appearances to his name in 2020/21, 28 starts, he will unlikely never play more football for Arsenal than he did last season.

Playing second fiddle to White will see his game time dramatically reduced and almost guarantee he does not make England’s next World Cup squad.

He would have seen the likes of Conor Coady, White and Tyrone Mings make Gareth Southgate’s squad despite playing for lesser clubs.

Holding will know his best chance of going to Qatar would be to move away from Arsenal and play every league game for the next 18 months .

At 25-years-old, a move away for Arsenal is the only way he will get week in, week out football.

The move would also suit Arsenal.

We currently have too many players; and whilst we have got rid of David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis from last season, we still have one too many defenders.

With no European football, we do not need to carry 5 centre backs and 3 right backs. One must go.

The options to leave would be either Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers or Holding.

If Cedric leaves, Chambers then becomes 2nd choice right back to Hector Bellerin (or his replacement). If Holding leaves, Chambers becomes 4th choice centre back as cover for Ben White. If it is Chambers who goes, Cedric and Holding maintain their positions.

But you can only sell players if there is a buyer.

There will not be too many clubs in for Cedric – who turns 30 at the end of this month. So that gives you a choice between keeping Chambers or Holding.

Taking into account everything that has been said so far, Chambers might be the better option as understudy for White.

Chambers is closer in style of football to White.

He is a good passer of the ball and quicker than Holding.

That means if White is injured, Chambers would probably be the better man to bring in. Playing Chambers would mean we would not have to change our defensive tactics. We would not need the team to drop 10 yards deeper to cover Holding’s lack of pace.

Chambers is a more like for like replacement for White than Holding is.

He is also more versatile – capable of covering right back in an emergency and he could also play a role as 5th choice central midfielder.

When it comes to reducing our centre backs, we also have to look forward 12 months to when William Saliba returns.

If Saliba has a good season in France and continues to develop his game, he will be back in the Arsenal squad next season.

That will leave Arsenal with 6 centre backs once more.

It makes a lot of sense for Arsenal to shed one centre back this summer and then another next – especially as we do not have European football.

Next summer we sell which of Holding or Chambers is still at the club; or Saliba depending on the development of latter.

So if we get an offer for Holding (or Chambers) in the region of £20million this summer, we would be crazy to turn it down as their value will only likely diminish next summer with a year less playing.

The two obvious clubs that could target Holding are Newcastle and Leicester City.

Both sides play with deep defences so Holding would suit their style of play.

Leicester will be in the market for a new centre back following Wesley Fofana’s sickening pre-season injury.

Holding would be an easy deal for them to get done – and Arsenal could potentially use him as part of a deal for James Maddison.

Newcastle are the ones he has been most heavily linked with overnight.

It is actually funny looking at Newcastle Twitter who are slating the deal. Holding would become their best centre back.

Many are saying “if he is not good enough for Arsenal he is not good enough for Newcastle”. This the same fan base who are celebrating signing Joe Willock like it is Lionel Messi.

It is perhaps a level of delusion that Newcastle fans have always had.

They finished 12th last season. And 13th the two previous seasons. They are a relegation battling side, not a European chasing.

We have also seen it with Aston Villa. Them thinking that they are “on par” with Arsenal. Ignoring that our 8th place finish is seen as a failure for us. It would be a huge success for them.

A mid-table side – the likes of Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Leeds United – is exactly the level Holding should be playing at.

Teams like Newcastle should be targeting top sides fringe players.

Not being at the level Arsenal require moving forward does not mean he is not the level that would improve Newcastle.

Like Willock, I would wish Holding all the luck if he moves on.

Rob Holding leaving will be good for the player who has England ambitions, good for Arsenal who would add £20million or so into the coffers and good for whoever he joins who would be getting a solid Premier League centre back. A good deal for all parties.

Have a good Tuesday.

Keenos