Arsenal held by pumped-up Newcastle

Arsenal missed the chance to go six points clear at the top of the Premiership table as they were held to a 1-1 draw by a determined Newcastle United side.

Both sides went into this in contrasting form, Arsenal unbeaten at the top of the league and Newcastle in a rut after collecting only one point from their last five games, and it looked to be going to the script when Emmanuel Adebayor scored a goal of real quality in the 4th minute. The Togolese striker took down Emmanuel Eboue’s lofted cross on the chest and volleyed it past Shay Given with a piece of skill as brilliant as it was effective. But Newcastle responded well, biting into tackles and show real desire for the rest of the contest before pulling a goal back through Steven Taylor in the 60th minute.

The momentum shifted Newcastle’s way and if any team was likely to get the winner then it would’ve been the home side, but Arsenal survived the onslaught and may have even snatched the win if the referee had chosen to punish either of Habib Beye or Taylor for challenges that denied Adebayor clear goalscoring opportunities on two occasions. All-in-all the draw was a fair result, something that Arsene Wenger admitted after the match.

“Overall you could say they did deserve something from the game and we didn’t really create enough going forward to say we should have won. Physically it was a very difficult game for us tonight and mentally as well because they did fight for every ball. We did not have enough time to play.”

The big question I have been asking myself today (I’ve had a day off work, so I’ve had a lot of time to think) is ‘should I be worried about this performance?’. While this match was nothing quite like the onslaught in Seville, the simple fact is that for the best part of the ninety minutes against Newcastle, Arsenal were outplayed. Taking into account this match as well as those against Aston Villa and Sevilla, it is now five out of the last six 45-minute halves that Arsenal have been outplayed be their opponents (the excellent first-half at Villa Park the exception). In my opinion, that is something worth worrying about.

Diarra clashes with Nicky ButtArsenal midfield hussled out

Newcastle performed extremely well and it seemed like the pressure on Sam Allardyce and the club inspired the side to up their game against Arsenal. They were combative and full of energy without being overly-physical, and the Arsenal midfield missing Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb and Cesc Fabregas were simply not up to the task. I felt Gilberto Silva was again a little cumbersome and, as in the second half against Aston Villa on Saturday, Lassana Diarra took too many touches on the ball. As Wenger alluded to in his post-match comments, the midfield were just not quick enough physically or mentally to pick the right pass to play their way out of tight spots.

While I don’t question either Diarra or Gilberto’s ability, or indeed Eboue’s for that matter, I do want to make the point that if the three midfield musketeers were available then Arsenal probably would have gone home with three points. As it was, they weren’t and they didn’t and Wenger will have some thinking to do. The boys will obviously be disappointed with the result but will need to move on quickly to prepare for the weekend match against Middlesborough.

The one positive to come out of the match was that defensively, the side was again superb. Kolo Toure, although scrambly at times was effective and William Gallas put in another superb performance when the pressure was on, marshalling the back four in the way that only he can. Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy also did well despite being unable to get forward as much as they would’ve wanted. Indeed, Sagna spent most of his night shadowing James Milner. Manuel Almunia carried on from his good game against Aston Villa with another sure-handed display that will bring confidence to the manager.

With a number of key players out Arsenal are struggling to get forward as much as they usually do but with the first-choice back five ever-present the side will continue to be very difficult to beat.

What do you think?

Have your say on the Arsenal-Newcastle match by leaving a comment.



  1. I don’t worry about Newcastle at all. I worry about refereeing decisions when we play Fat Sam’s teams. I also worry for England when I see a team with such great traditions produce shit on a stick and call it football. Why in the world did they appoint Fat Sam??

  2. Heh heh, got to hate Fat Sam. They weren’t too bad though, in all honesty – very hard at the ball but also reasonably skilled. You could tell they weren’t sure how to go about getting the winner they might’ve deserved. They just seemed to lack a player or two to make that final difference.

  3. Arsenal are still top of the league,Aren’t we?
    To remember Arsenal had possibly our best 5 players of the season missing (Hleb,Van Persie,Fabregas,Flamini and Diaby).How would Man Utd do without Rooney,Ronaldo,Tevez,Giggs and Scholes,and Man Utd fans says their team is the best in the premiership but Man Utd lost to Bolton didn’t they ?Does that mean Man Utd can’t win the the League?
    Good luck to Arsenal but fergie is right,they’ll drop points just as Man United will too.
    Let’s face it,If Arsenal win the league they deserve it for the patience of building such a good team that play quality football.
    Arsenal fantastic team !

  4. Gilberto was just rusty and i would have given Denilson a chance to play in the second half. It was an average performance but i was so dissapointed with Gilberto and thought of callinng him names especially when he played the passes to the opposition. I felt like he was a newcastle player. Overall Wenger should have reexamined how Denilson played in the Wigan game and swapped him immediately. Eduardo looked tired and at One point Adebayor was screaming for a pass from Rosicky when he was outrightly offside. I felt like the referee was against us on most of the fouls. Remember him giving Habib Beye a yellow card after being fouled by Rosicky claiming that the later did not deserve a card ( I saw that as poor refereeing . If our games will be like this in terms of poor refereeing decisions then SAF must be right in saying that we wuill slip.

    Overall lets get focused for the next game. If i was Wenger i would give Gilberto some games with the reserve team to polish him…

    We are Four points clear and we need at least 7 points fronm these three away games before we meet Chelsea.

  5. It’s all very well saying you would have won with your three missing midfielders but we had five defenders out, plus Duff and Owen and Barton and Viduka are not fully fit.
    Arsenal are a superb team who I love watching and I hope you win the league. As for the Toon, hopefully a corner turned and a top seven place possible.

  6. Fair call. I still think we would’ve won if both sides had full-strength teams, that’s how important I feel those three players are 🙂 It was a big test for Arsenal and the longer they stay on top the more often opposing teams will put in Herculean efforts like Newcastle did. Some tough tests lie ahead, one feels.

  7. This time last year we would have lost games like this one against the Geordies and probably gone under in the second half against Villa. December is traditionally a tough month for us. Points gained and top of the league with players coming back. To be honest i don’t see anything to worry about.
    All the best fellow Gooners

  8. All said and done Arsenal are 4 points clear top of the league,6 ahead of Chelsea,7 ahead of Liverpool and 25 ahead of top 4 Tottenham.
    Fantastic Arsenal !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Positivity and reasonable perspective, I love to hear it. I have to say my only worry is the point I made in the article – without our top midfielders the side has struggled to outplay their opponents for the majority of any of the games. If injuries persist we could face some tough times.

  10. Diarra was surely man of the match? He gave one of the finest performances this season – on 3/4 occasions he literally while tackling inserted his body between the toon player & the ball and swivelled – and away he got. I thought last night we should thank chelsea for being so silly and letting him go.

    Edurado was rubbish, poor shite. and ive been calling for him ahead of walcott. i thought he was completely outclassed. i felt sorry for him

  11. I don’t agree that Diarra was man of the match. He gave away the ball way too often – especially under pressure. He does have that nice ability to wriggle out of challenges, you’re right, but so often he seems to get dispossed by tackles coming from behind. A good player, but there are some faults to iron out yet. As for Eduardo, he did look flat. But I guess that’s what you get when you get played out wide on the left and you’re a striker. Had he remained central then I think he would have had a better game.

  12. Spanish Fry, would those worrisome 5 halves be the same ones in which Hleb was absent (and Fabs for four of them)? It seems that Aresnal has come to resort to long-balls up from the back instead of passing through the middle (Toure and Almunia, I am talking about you). I have not been impressed by Diaby this year, but even he might have helped in holding onto the ball and linking with the forwards.

  13. There were a few times in the first half, I felt that they could have easily gone to goal, but instead were content with one touch, flashy possession: one-on-one at the edge of the box with nothing but space, the goalie, and the goal requires attacking.

  14. are wrong about eduardo.Eduardo didn’t play his righful position and the central mid – field was totally down so you can’t simply judge him on a game that was poorly performed by practically everyone.Am pretty sure that if he plays upfront with a flawless mid then he’ll be hitting the net like shit..
    About the next match, without Hleb, Flamini and Fabregas we’ll still be in trouble but am sure our boys know quite well that they need to correct their mistakes. Am sure they’ll perform and we might even be lucky to have Adebayor being consistent for once and scoring a goal or two.. CHEERS!

  15. I feel that if Newcastle were in the same position but Man Utd were top of the league and they were facing Man Utd then they would have lost. Lets face it, we need RVP, Cesc, Hleb and Flamini back A.S.A.P – only 4 points clear ( i say it as if it is a bad thing). Boro at the weekend lads, can we win?

  16. Spanish Fry, I think you read minds. I had the exact same thoughts as I was watching the highlights today. Arsenal without the midfield combination of Hleb, Fabregas and Flamini are just not as effective.

  17. Hey darragh, you need to get into contact with me to organise the shirt that you never got! You need to send me your address to get that ‘Hleb!’ shirt on its way. Or did you forget?

  18. I dont think Ebouce can score a goal…
    even a single one!!

    -the only think that I dont like at the moment is Eboue.
    -and the best: Diarra (he´s a lion)

  19. You have to give Eduardo a chance. Although he hasn’t played particularly well yet his international record suggests he is a top prospect. You can’t sell someone so soon after buying them – he’s a long-term project and will come good given time. As for Eboue, I feel he has stepped up lately (Newcastle game excluded). When you consider that he’s not even a first-choice player when the entire squad is fit I think he’s quite important to the squad.

  20. I know
    but I think our big problem this season could be “patience” if we have a lot with some players we´re lost.

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