Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0 – Report now in…
Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0 – Saturday 27 November 12.30pm
The first away game of the Eddie Howe era and one that couldn’t be much tougher.
We were facing a team that have beaten us seven times in a row and that we haven’t beaten at the Emirates since Carroll was here the first time around.
Great to see Eddie on the touchline, at last. Ironically, he was sporting a Wenger-style sleeping bag length jacket.
It was clear early on we wouldn’t be going for the swashbuckling approach of the Brentford match. The first couple of minutes saw us pressing with Joelinton, in particular, looking hungry to earn more plaudits. However, after those opening stages we reverted to most players behind the ball and trying to release Wilson with the odd ball over the top.
A scuffle early on between Wilson and Gabriel could have gone either way but Wilson was the one penalised after proving the stronger. This would be the first of seven gazillion incidents between the two.
The first corner for Arsenal was watched with interest. Dubravka doing precisely what Darlow hadn’t been doing previously and claimed it with authority.
A free-kick in a good position was curled over our wall by Odegaard but Dubravka palmed it away comfortably.
Shelvey then struck two decent shots in quick succession. The first one was tipped tremendously onto the crossbar by Ramsdale. The second was hit well but was straight at the keeper.
It was Willock’s first return to the club that developed him but you’d think everyone was involved in the reunion, the amount of hugging that was going on. Both teams must have been wearing spandex costumes under their kits as wrestling was the main entertainment on display. There was a VAR check when Schar got his own cuddle in the Arsenal box. The ball went nowhere near him though and it would have been a soft one if given.
Our heavyweight champion, Wilson, was involved in about 50% of these tussles and it felt inevitable he would get the dreaded booking that would see him miss the Norwich game.
The big moment of the first half came in the last five minutes before the break, when Saka squared up against Lascelles. He beat him with ease to get to the line and dink in the perfect ball which Emile Smith-Rowe met with a firm header. Dubravka got across to it brilliantly and blocked it, only for it to land at the feet of the man that has scored six times in his last five appearances against us. Fortunately, the post must have irritated him, and he chose to blast the ball against that instead of into the empty net from four yards out.
I’ve not seen a miss like that against us since…well since Aubamayeng. You might remember he missed an open goal last season too. Just imagine how many goals he could have had if he’d been more clinical against us.
Arsenal were motivated now though. Ritchie got booked, taking one for the team. Schar made an excellent sliding tackle as Saka tried to get on the end of a one-two in our box. A couple of shots were blocked or blasted over the bar.
Most of a black and white persuasion were begging for half time. We got a rare break of our own in the last minute of stoppage time but bad crosses and ASM and Shelvey getting in each other’s way stopped us creating a late chance.
I was hoping we might come out in the second half and really attack Arsenal. If we had gone at them intensely for the first five or ten minutes, it may have caught them by surprise.
Instead, it was more of the same. Krafth got a cheap booking after initially doing well to stop Tavares breaking away but then giving him a hearty shoulder to barge him off the pitch.
We had the same game plan and after ten minutes, the intensity proved too much for us. A well worked move unpicked our ten-man defence and Saka side-footed the ball into the bottom corner after being released at the end of a sixteen pass move by Arsenal.
Shelvey pumped a great ball over the top for Wilson to chase and our number nine was first to the ball and then took a tumble. The away fans shouted their claim but the VAR check was over before you could say ‘debatable’.
Within seconds the ball was in the back of our net, again.
I’m sure a lot of us were relieved to see Saka withdrawn but a wonderfully clipped ball by Tomiyasu found his replacement, Martinelli, who hammered in a volley with his second touch since coming on. It was a well-crafted goal but Wilson and Joelinton were quickly over to the referee to get clarification on the penalty decision at the other end.
Watching the replays, I still can’t decide if I agree with the decision. For me, Wilson gets there first and slows down to try and protect the ball. Was he playing for a collision? However, the shoulder that comes in is in the back as opposed to meeting Wilson’s shoulder. Had it been outside the box it may well have been given. If a different name had preceded the word United, I’m sure it would have been given. It’s just a shame that Wilson couldn’t stay on his feet and blast it in.
Once we had a two-goal deficit, we started to create some dangerous situations. Murphy and Almiron had come on and provided some energy. They both made some positive contributions but also had a couple of sloppy moments each. Unfortunately, we failed to create any real clear-cut opportunities and it was a case of too little too late.
It showed the difference in the respective team’s statuses that we ended the game with a central midfield made up of Arsenal academy graduates that were deemed surplus to requirements at the Emirates.
Arsenal were by far the superior team, with tag teams all over the pitch stopping us building any momentum. The only real threat we carried was when Shelvey or Schar popped balls over the top for Wilson to chase.
Overall, it wasn’t a Royal Rumble, I mean game, that we expected much from. Summing up just how bad a place it has been to visit over the last decade, this was our tenth straight loss at the Emirates, and we haven’t scored in the last seven.
The main positives to take were that Dubrvaka started and got through it (after a half time scare) and Wilson didn’t get a booking. I thought Schar played well and definitely improved our back line both defensively and offensively. I’ll leave it to the rest of you to decide whether Ritchie and Lascelles getting booked and missing the next match is a good thing or not. I think Fernandez partnering Schar could be an interesting combination. If there was ever a game to give Lewis a chance, it’s against his old side.
ASM was completely neutralised today but he should have a lot more joy on Tuesday. Joelinton struggled but put himself about and I’m hopeful against the lesser sides he can provide similar performances to the one against Brentford.
Although the games are disappearing and the job is getting harder, there’s still a long, long way to go. Let’s keep giving our wholehearted support to the boys as we move towards this tricky December schedule.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0 – Saturday 27 November 12.30pm
Saka 56, Martinelli 66
(In brackets the first half stats)
Possession was Arsenal 66% (79%) Newcastle 34% (21%)
Total shots were Arsenal 24 (12) Newcastle 9 (4)
Shots on target were Arsenal 6 (2) Newcastle 5 (2)
Corners were Arsenal 4 (1) Newcastle 4 (2)
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Crowd: 59,886 (Newcastle 3,000)
Dubravka, Fraser, Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Ritchie (Almiron 67), Shelvey (Hayden 89), Willock, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Murphy 67), Wilson
Darlow, Hendrick, Lewis, Manquillo, Clark, Longstaff
(Two Newcastle United players pick up suspensions in 2-0 defeat at Arsenal – Read HERE)
(Alan Shearer half-time, full-time and penalty reactions to Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0 – Read HERE)
(Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s defeat – Read HERE)
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