Result: Arsenal 2 – 0 Newcastle United
Competition: Premier League
Date: 27 November 2021
Venue: The Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Partey, Sambi, Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka, Aubameyang
Subs: Leno, Tierney, Lacazette, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Pepe, Elneny, Nketiah, Martinelli
Arsenal went back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium. They were blunt in the first half but a much improved second half saw two scintillating goals.
The opening goal by Saka was the culmination of a 16-pass move and the second, a lovely dink by Martinelli who scored with his first touch of the game as a substitute.
Arteta made just one change from the big loss against Liverpool with Odegaard taking Lacazette’s role as the playmaker and connecting point between midfield and attack.
Despite making errors at Anfield, the manager placed his faith in keeping young guns, Sambi and Tavares, in the team with Maitland-Niles and Tierney looking for an opportunity to impress from the bench.
Arsenal have been starting quickly during their recent unbeaten run but Newcastle made sure the Gunners couldn’t pass and dribble through a wall of white and black.
Our centre backs had a lot of the ball and had to be patient in distribution as the passing lanes to their teammates were blocked at almost every angle. It didn’t help too much that the Gunners were also a little too static off the ball which slowed the game down.
Arsenal needed a jolt to their senses and it came on the 15th minute. Sambi spotted Saka running in behind the Newcastle defence and lofted in a lovely pass only for the ball to spin away from the English international by a mere inches.
The upturn of pace was only temporary though, and it saw Arsenal earn a free kick just outside the box and Odegaard teasing in a left footer that Dubravka pushed wide.
Bar a long range drive from Shelvey which was acrobatically saved by Ramsdale, Newcastle didn’t threaten too much for the rest of the half either. Arsenal defended well, with Ben White catching the eye, but the same couldn’t be said for their attacking play.
Five minutes from time, it seemed that Arsenal found their breakthrough.
Saka shifted to the left hand side and chipped in the ball for Smith Rowe to head it from the edge of the 6 yard box. Dubravka palmed it into Aubameyang’s path who only needed to tap in the ball from close range but the captain could only smack it against the bar. A shocker from someone of his reputation and ability.
It was a poor attacking show from the home team who looked like they were possibly scarred from the 4-0 result against Liverpool.
Arteta’s half time pep talk must have re-energised the team because they came out with a newfound purpose to attack and win their duels.
Krafth got yellow carded from a full paced Tavares dribble and Saka took it in his hands to torment the Newcastle defence. He took on two defenders to dribble into the box and shoot and not long after, it was him who finally put the Gunners ahead.
Arsenal patiently passed around the outside of the penalty box against a resolute defence but it was the interchangeable passes between Smith Rowe, Tavares and Saka down the left that unpicked the lock.
Tavares slipped in Saka who lashed in a shot into the far corner to the relief of the team. 1-0 to Arsenal. Unfortunately, the local hero had to be replaced just 10 minutes later as he limped off with an injury that could keep him out for the game against Manchester United.
Martinelli replaced Saka and judging by his first touch, perhaps we don’t need to worry too much about Saka’s temporary absence.
The team shifted the ball to the right wing towards Tomiyasu and just as the ball was floated over, Aubameyang drifted deeper towards midfield and Martinelli darted in, Ljungberg-esque, from the right into the box. Tomiyasu lofted in the ball over Martinelli’s head and the Brazillian deftly cushioned it over Dubravka to make to 2-0 with his first touch.
With the results secure, the rest of the game played out in a pretty safe fashion. The home side continued to defend well and took the sting out of the game when in possession.
A deserved three points after a much more positive second half. Next up, the Red Devils at Old Trafford.