Arsenal: Ospina, Chambers, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Alexis, Cazorla, Welbeck, Giroud
Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Bellerin, Flamini, Rosicky, Walcott
Arsenal made it six Premier League wins in a row with a 2-1 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park this afternoon.
Arsene Wenger made a number of changes from the midweek game against Monaco with Ramsey, Chambers and Gabriel coming into starting line-up at the expense of Mertesacker, Bellerin and an absent Mesut Ozil who missed the game through illness. It meant there was still no place in the first XI for Theo Walcott.
The match started brightly at both ends with Alexis coming close to setting up Giroud while at the other end Gabriel had to be alert to block a shot from inside our area. The home side were certainly up for it, pressing Arsenal well and we had to on our toes as they looked to get in behind.
There wasn’t much in the way of goalmouth action, Arsenal had a couple of set-pieces which were half dangerous, until Aaron Ramsey was played in behind the defence in the 22nd minute. With the keeper coming out he tried to flick it with the outside of his foot but miscued it and the chance went begging.
Moments later though, we were ahead with a goal from Olivier Giroud. Having won a free kick in midfield, he then got on the end of a Welbeck flick from Cazorla’s set-piece to guide the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
Less than a minute after that, Welbeck volleyed wide after being set-up by Alexis, and the same pair combined seconds later when the Chilean’s beautiful through ball set the striker in behind but his first touch was poor.
The former Barcelona man was in the mood, quite literally putting the shits up the home side, and it was from his hard work that Arsenal won the corner from which the second goal came. The ball was played in, Giroud held off the defender well and nodded the ball into the bottom corner and it was 2-0 after 28 minutes.
At the other end there were moments of danger when a Sissokho shot was blocked and Monreal blocked a Cabella header, but Arsenal always looked most likely to score again. Giroud was desperate to get his first ever hat-trick for the club and was frustrated late in the half when Ramsey got on the end of an Alexis cross which might have suited him better, but it meant a two goal lead was enough to take into the break.
There were no changes on either side at the interval, except for Arsenal’s effort. Newcastle got down our right, the defending was half-hearted, the ball was pulled back to the edge of the box and Sissokho buried it into the bottom corner. 1-2.
It was just the start the home side wanted and Ayoze almost equalised a minute later, curling a right footed shot just wide with Ospina scrambling to get across. The Gunners were too static, too much ball watching as Newcastle looked for another goal.
The scrappiness of the game wasn’t helped by a referee allowing lots of fouls to go unpunished, and when Gabriel was pushed over Newcastle were inexplicably given a corner. From that, the ball fell to Gouffran just 8 yards out but his shot was tame and straight at Ospina.
Coquelin was laid out with an elbow to his nose, and with 10 men on the pitch the Colombian goalkeeper kept the scores level with a point blank save from a Sissokho header. The Frenchman came back on with a wad of kleenex up his hooter, but no number on his shirt.
Arsene Wenger made his first changes in the 71st minute with Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky replacing Santi Cazorla and Alexis. After the exertions in midweek it was understandable to an extent but did little to help us retain the ball.
All the pressure came from John Carver’s side, although Welbeck’s fine run caused some danger but he couldn’t pull the ball back to the players supporting. There was a big shout for a Newcastle penalty when Ayoze went down under a Koscielny challenge in the area, but referee Mike Jones waved away the appeals – replays showed there was no contact.
It was relentless at times, made worse by our inability to do simple things with the ball. The second Newcastle goal almost came when a shot deflected towards goal with Ospina having to adjust to save with his legs. A series of corners were heart in mouth before our final sub was made with Welbeck going off for Hector Bellerin.
The Spaniard almost set up Giroud for a hat-trick to seal the game, but the Arsenal defence stood strong. It was a terrible second half but a great three points!
Now an Interlull.