Arsenal (2) – (1) Newcastle United
Van Persie (15′), Vermaelen (90’+4)
The Emirates Stadium, London
Arsenal have done it again.
We have set a new Premier League record – winning 4 games in a row after trailing in all 4 games. First against Sunderland, then Tottenham and then against Liverpool.
Tonight, Newcastle took the lead against the run of play when the talented Ben Arfa cut inside and lashed in a shot at the near post. Kieran Gibbs was poor on that occasion and Ben Arfa took full advantage.
From then on, Arsenal dominated.
There was only one team that was interested in taking all 3 points and it wasn’t the visiting team in the black and white shirts. For the entire second half, Tim Krul was intent on taking as much time as possible over every single goal kick and freekick to waste as much time as he could.
We have had teams try to frustrate Arsenal at The Emirates but the negativity from Newcastle in the second half was frustrating. Szczesny was hardly tested apart from the goal from Ben Arfa.
Arsenal struggled at times during the second half to break down a resilient Newcastle team but we were also guilty of missing some really guilt-edged chances. Gervinho, missed an absolute sitter and the in-form Tomas Rosicky got his bearings wrong and lashed an effort wide when he should have done better.
Mental strength is something that Arsene used to talk about and at the moment, this Arsenal team have that in abundance. To react like that have to going a goal (or two) down and still come out with the win is outstanding and all the players deserve all the praise they get. Against Sunderland, Liverpool and now Newcastle, Arsenal have unbelievably scored injury time winners.
Remarkable, outstanding, you can use any superlative you like.
And the end result after a fantastic run like that is we have managed to claw back a 10 point deficit on Tottenham Hotspur to a single point. That is amazing and a team tipped to not even be in the Top Four is in with a real shout to be in the Top Three.
19 points from losing positions this season tells you about the character and fight this Arsenal team has. We’ve been found wanting at times but at the moment this Arsenal team are fighting for the fans, fighting for the manager and more importantly fighting for themselves.
The winning goal tonight was special. With the last attack of the game, Arsenal managed to win the ball after Newcastle were trying to waste time in the corner, and once that happened 8 Arsenal players bust a gut to get into the penalty area and when Theo Walcott was played in he needed to make sure that he produce a decent cross. His delivery was good and Newcastle’s inability to clear meant the ball fell to Vermaelen, and there was only going to be one result. The outstanding Belgian ran his heart out in the last minute and thoroughly deserved his winning goal.
The momentum is with Arsenal and we need to keep fighting and making sure we keep winning games. You can accuse Arsenal of many things this season but being boring is not one of them.
Some people will say that the spat between Van Persie and Tim Krul is something you don’t want to see but I like to see passion, desire and fight in our players. It shows they care and want to win for the club. You might think it’s not how a captain should act but I say screw that, Van Persie is the man and it shows you don’t f*ck with us!
On a side note, I don’t think our recent good form and the absence of Per Mertesacker is a coincidence. Vermaelen and Koscielny have been outstanding together recently and that has to be our first choice defensive partnership. Sagna is solid and energetic as ever, Gibbs is improving all the time and our midfield now has real options with Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Arteta, Song and Ramsey all in good form.
Our only problematic areas are in attack – losing Van Persie is something we can’t even thing about and Theo Walcott’s form is too inconsistent. And both Gervinho and Chamakh are just so off form it’s unreal. Hopefully Podolski does come in the summer and adds some bite and firepower to our wide positions because we are over-reliant on Van Persie for goals.
But that’s another discussion for another day. Let’s just enjoy another important victory and look forward to our next game – a tough away fixture at Everton.