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Arsenal In Newcastle – Stiffen The Sinews

Once more unto the international break dear friends, once more

We have been riding an undulating course of late. The humdrum of league encounters has been punctuated by the lofty heights of all or nothing cup competitions and then it’s back down again to the daily grind. Except of course that the daily grind for us represents jousting with the very best for the biggest prizes of all. Not that the main prize is actually in reach you understand. To be honest it isn’t even in view yet. There is a veritable forest of ifs to negotiate before we even snatch a glance. If we can overtake the blue Mancunians, if Chelsea lose their game in hand and if we go on to beat Chelsea then there may just be the smallest hint of a glimpse of a prize. Oh, and all of this is predicated on us first taking maximum points from an away trip to Newcastle, from Liverpool and from Burnley. You can see why Arsène is a confirmed celebrant at the Church Of One Game At A Time, can’t you?

We supporters, free from the constraints which necessity places on those at the heart of the drama, can dream big and wonder if the seemingly impossible might become true. We did this on Tuesday didn’t we? And didn’t that dreaming make for a thrilling evening of football? Winning the league represents a far more outlandish scenario than that which we hoped to see in Monaco but a win at St James Park today will at least keep the infinitesimally small flame alight for another week.

It would be nice to have some spark no matter how tiny its source to warm us during the evil chill of the dreaded international break. I despise the interruption as I’m sure you do. The only good thing one can say for it is that it gives our injured players a little more time to recover without missing games. I hate it because, like an advertisement in the middle of a tense drama or an unwelcome knock on the bathroom door it breaks one’s concentration, disrupts the flow. More than this though the internationals ruin the pattern, the run of energy and momentum which has built over the preceding weeks of league football. Chelsea have stuttered. Six points dropped in their last six games. Manchester City have stumbled, eight points dropped. Arsenal and Liverpool have powered forward winning their last five and dropping only three and two respectively in their last six. After this weekend all of that will be as nought. The teams will return after the nonsensical irrelevance of the international sideshow, and like actors retaking the stage following an air raid warning will try in vain to pick up their lines, to remember where they were stood before the sirens cleared the theatre. The actor may in fact recall his script but the particular energy of the moment can never be recaptured.

Each international break is a small death and whatever is resurrected can never be the same as that which has passed. Be that as it may. Drop points today and none of that will matter. I don’t expect us to give Newcastle the room to prosper this afternoon. I expect us to apply a similar choke hold as that with which we so expertly stifled and suffocated Monaco. This was the single most pleasing aspect of our superb performance on Tuesday. The way the players were able to attack with fluency and invention and yet simultaneously envelop the opposition in a blanket of defensive discipline; harrying defenders, closing midfielders and throttling the forwards. If the players can raise themselves from their understandable disappointment to achieve similar heights in the North East today they ought to give their hosts an uncomfortable afternoon. I wonder if they can? In truth they should take an awful lot of encouragement from the way they played in the Principality. Far from being discomfited they should reflect on a masterful display of team work and individual brilliance. They missed out on the result by a tiny fraction but they showed how good a footballing team they can be and that may prove more important in the long run.

What of our opponents? Well, like us, they have their own idiot brigade who thought they could help their team by harassing the manager. This is a fascinating idea which I’m sure must delight any passing anthropologists. The suggestion that publicly abusing the very person responsible for engineering the success of your team will somehow benefit the players he has to inspire. That denigrating achievement and applauding defeat can in some way lead to better things is the work of an intelligence so far beyond the reach of mine that I am speechless to pass judgement upon it. Unlike the sad, bewildered minority of our own supporters who follow a similar logic, the Newcastle fifth columnists got their wish. As the champagne bubbles went flat in the aftermath of New Years Eve celebrations and twenty fourteen gave way to twenty fifteen, Alan Pardew returned to Crystal Palace leaving the fog of war on the Tyne far behind, and frankly, who can blame him? Before he took the plane south Newcastle had enjoyed a mixed bag of results. They were rampant in October and November beating, among others, Spurs, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea in a run which was cruelly brought to an abrupt halt at the Emirates when we demolished them in a four one rout.

With Mertesacker hitting the underside of the bar and Wellbeck’s brilliant falling chipped goal being wrongly disallowed the scoreline actually flattered Newcastle. Giroud scored two fine goals that day underlining yet again to all but the blind or the stupid just how valuable he is to us. Honestly if you even entertain those who try to draw you into a debate as to whether Olivier Giroud is good enough for Arsenal you need to have a long hard look at yourself. If he never scored another goal for us, the rest of his game is so good, so important to the way we play that he would still merit a place in our starting line up. It isn’t just Larry’s form which should give us heart. With Aaron coming back to his best and Mesut and Santi in their pomp the Arsenal scythe looks sharp as the season ripens and the final harvest approaches.

While the superstars in the squad are showered in rightful praise there are three other players who have been punching well above their weight. Hector, Nacho and Francis are all wrongly denigrated as respectively, merely quick, dull and tough. Each player has, however, far more to his game than these lazy stereotypes. Hector Bellerin is possessed of some crazy ball skills and is, I believe, playing well within himself at the moment, and understandably so. To be catapulted from the youth team to the Champions League would leave anyone a little overawed but when this boy shows what he is capable of I think he’ll be running rings around premier league defenders for fun. Nacho Monreal is a far better footballer than people give him credit for. I don’t see him showing the same flashes of genius of which Hector is capable but his reading of the game, position, pace and passing out of trouble when allied to his willingness and versatility have seen him take full advantage of Gibbs’ carefully managed recovery.

Which brings me to Francis Coquelin. Now I know that people hated Arteta with a slavering insanity akin to a fish hating water. Consequently anyone who wasn’t Arteta had, they felt, to be applauded. But the same people had spent so long telling us that we needed a big, tough, hard tackling defensive minded player that to save face they are now forced to pretend that Coquelin is just that type of player. They therefore ignore his range of passing. They ignore his wonderful snake like twisting to guard possession while looking for a pass. They ignore the sublime touch and skill with which he brings the ball under control and they ignore his wonderful slight of foot when going past the opposition. I think he has the potential to become a complete player. My message to these fools is that just because you are too stupid to see what a brilliant footballer Mikel Arteta is doesn’t mean you have to close your eyes while watching his understudy. If Coquelin can learn to read the game like our captain then his other attributes will ensure he has everything needed to succeed at the very top. Just don’t pretend to me that he is a big brute tackler who can’t do anything else simply because that is what you want to see.

We can probably expect some changes today. Maybe Theo, maybe Gabriel. Personally I’d love to see Tomáš. Please Arsène, please. Whoever starts at three o’clock I hope they can continue the good work of Tuesday night. I also hope that we can go into the enforced misery of No Football Fortnight with a win under our belts and that West Brom, Leicester, Liverpool and Hull can all give us something to smile about. I trust you will find suitable diversions with which to entertain yourself during the Arsenal drought, I’ll be back on April the fourth with my Liverpool preview, until then, I bid you farewell.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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135 comments on “Arsenal In Newcastle – Stiffen The Sinews

  1. Just listened to the Arsenal player commentary and it sounded very much as if the tank suddenly emptied in the second half. Hardly a surpise, and despite the wisdom of Steww’s words this morning, it could be that right now the International break is just what we need. It has been a very, very intense period for us and maybe a few days away from each other and Colney will do no great harm. Winning away from home is never easy, and that is now one less away game we have to play this season. Really good result.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Plenty of bend but we didn’t break in the 2nd half. Grit eh Fins.

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  3. FH: I am in total agreement. This international break couldn’t come at a better time for us. Seem our boys tanks were running on empty all through the 2nd half.

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  4. Would make sense if it wasn’t for one simple fact. Most of our players will be away playing in the bloody internationals.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. They won’t be playing at PremierLeague intensity Steww. We can turn this break into a positive. We look spent.

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  6. we can only hope that they dont play full games and the traveling isnt to bad. Being at home is important and also not picking up knocks. The Liverpool game is now a very important game restart the campaign positively could prove critical

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  7. Jesus, just completely commented on the wrong blog post. That’ll confuse anyone who likes to read old stuff…

    Anyway, in the right place now…

    So, beating up on Aaron is the name of the game on Twitter today. Guess I’ll stay off there for awhile. Anybody besides me think his playing further forward today was by design with Ozil out unexpectedly? I mean, he didn’t stop doing it after HT. You’d think if the boss wanted him to stop, he’d have told him so.

    Anyway, terrific by the boys against a fiery Newcastle team, after a tough midweek. And I won’t have any whiners telling me otherwise. I don’t know why people expect other teams to roll over without a fight. Same people saying this had the potential to be a banana skin now complaining it wasn’t a rout. FFS.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Kelly – The twats on Twitter get on my nerves during a game given most just shoot from the hip in the hope of being smart rather than being supportive. Give me PA with Stew and company at any time.
    Your boy Aaron played very well obviously instructed to go further forward, from box to box, with Ozil out. We needed his energy with Santi and Sanchez obviously tired and lacking sharpness. My only concern was his combinations with Larry were not as good as they usually are.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I really think it’s a trio, Shotts. Aaron and Olivier need Mesut to make everything purr. At least that’s my opinion. And it’s my guess the game plan hinged around that until Mes got sick. I’m betting that required last minute adjustments. I mean, assuming Arsène does tactics and all…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Kelly: Arsene and tactics? Obviously he makes it up as he goes along. Only way he has won so many games and titles.

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  11. Little Bit Tyneside @18DialSquare86 · 52m 52 minutes ago
    Giroud has scored more goals in 2015 than Ronaldo.

    What a fraud…

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  12. MK @MKthegooner · 1h 1 hour ago
    “@AFCStat: All competitions since 2012/13:
    Giroud: 125 games, 56 goals, 27 assists
    Van Persie: 109 games, 57 goals, 19 assists” EISHHH

    Like

  13. AFCPressWatch™ @AFCPressWatch · 2h 2 hours ago
    Ramsey won 4 of 9 attempted tackles and created 1 chance. He is the top passer (49) of the match at #SJP.

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  14. AFCPressWatch™ @AFCPressWatch · 2h 2 hours ago
    Gabriel finished the match with more interceptions (7) than any player at St James Park and also with most blocks (4) and interceptions (11/11)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Gingers for Limpar @Gingers4Limpar · 2h 2 hours ago
    That’s Arsenal’s fifth 2-1 victory in the last six weeks. This team grinds out results… somehow. The, erm, “Grinders”?

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  16. I don’t have to look at Wenger’s post match presser, cos I know what he’ll be asked:

    “Journalist”:,
    Congratulations Arsène. After a magnificent performance and win during the week you’ve now won this game – during which the home sides players were given carte blanch to kick seven bells out of their visitors. How do your warriors do that/ what do you think about the officials ineptitude?

    2: We note your Coq’s nose got smashed again, and that MOTM Giroud scored two goals despite Newcastle’s defence relentlessly setting about him. Do you have a message for PGMO (limitless), as to why they’re in their perennial battle to encourage the destruction of Arsenal player’s limbs and muscles?

    3: Do you think – as we have observed, that if, say, Chelsea – were penalised by non and non given fouls, awarded dubious off side decisions and the like, following statements of intent by somehow ‘entitled’ opposing team managers, that Arsenal would be 9 points clear, and therefore secure in their dream to pick up the 2015 Premier L Championship?

    4: Once again congratulations on a hard fought win, gained as part of a three away game streak. We wish you well for the rest of the season.

    Innit?

    Liked by 3 people

  17. almost word for word rantetta and you said you did not view Wenger’s after match presser

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  18. Hey, I missed out the multiple flowing multifarious congratulatory fawning of Sir Arsene’s sage and sober questioners.
    Didn’t wanna bore y’all.
    They do this week in week out.

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  19. Actually, I’m actually, as always, attempting to Kalm down kalm down, following the usual shit kicking – so that I can post genuine gratefullness for yet another superb article from Steww.

    As someone (or two) has already noted; Giroud is ****!, right?

    Spike Lee is on The Voice – in Arsenal leathers! I just caught a glimpse on my neighbours telly. I must ask then to rewind and take a photo for me. (Fat chance).

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  20. Oh crap. Not Spike Lee, it’s Will I Am. I’m feeling a bit A Marriner.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. No problem Ranty
    Neil Swarbrick is the man in the pointy hat today though – the target of grave offence among football supporters everywhere

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  22. Diego Costa: 30 +3 games, 19 goals. – World Class
    Olivier Giroud: 19 + 7 games, 17 goals. – not good enough for Arsenal

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Volunteers for the write up step front and center.

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  24. Haha, “football supporters”, like Tony Pulis? Mind you, I’ve read he has asked for video tech, following the match. Have I read correctly that whomever should’ve been sent off – won’t suffer a retro ban?

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  25. Didn’t we win? What is everyone groaning about…..

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  26. Can’t help you today G

    Got another day at the coal face tomorrow as well

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  27. Goe Py
    Sorry. I’ll have to watch a full rerun before I can really enjoy the game.

    Trouble for me is that I watched countless games almost exactly like this one, but where the result has been a draw or a loss, and it has been, IMO, the result of Arsenal being kicked. And the distraction of commentators and careful replays/omissions messes with my thoughts and conclusions. This means I can’t fully appreciate what Arsenal have achieved merely by knowing we’ve won a match.

    Nominally, I’m happy. Squeak squek.

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  28. I thought Mel had already written the match report.

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  29. I’ve mellowed. That second half really got to me. I guess it was hard for them too.
    All credit to the lads for hanging in there after the midweek exertions. AW’s post-match comments spot-on – about us playing 3 away games in 4, Manchester, Monaco, Newcastle, and won them all.
    How can you possibly be discontent with that? Only if discontentment is a way of life, as it seems to be for some.
    Thank you PA and all who sail in her for keeping me sane – if I now am, that is.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. OptaJoe @OptaJoe · 7h 7 hours ago
    18 – Arsenal have more scored more set piece goals than any other Premier League side this season. Bizarre.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Perhaps Walter read this piece, Steww. Here’s my reply:
    http://untold-arsenal.com/archives/41988#comment-836614

    Liked by 1 person

  32. one massive plus from yesterdays game was the subs influence on the remaining magnificient 7 outfield players. All clubs all over europe lose abit of energy after hard away champions league games but when your then in the most competitive league in the world, away from home to a team who will run all day supported by a very passionate support to come away with anything is an achievement. Our beautiful football got no reward in the first half yesterday, infact we were extremly unlucky (especially Aaron and Oli not quite having thier usual telepathy), but our excellence in delivery of the dead ball and the movement in the area and ability to attack not only the initial ball but also the desire to be first to the knock downs meant that despite a ref content with appeasement rather than discipline we were able to go in at the break two up. Both goals from the leader of the deadwood Oliver Giroud, one a reation to a flick and the other a very good directional header. As it has since been pointed out a better goal ratio and assist rate than chelski’s (world class) costa and still classed as a donkey by some of our lesser enlightened “supporters”, however this club has a history of winning many trophies with so called donkeys so perhaps its fitting. Newcastle had little or nothing to offer first half and that was largely down to the beast that is Le Coq and his ability to snuff out trouble in any area of the pitch. An so we expected to watch a breeze of a second half maybe adding to the goal difference (unless you were Mel) especially after city won 3-0 earlier in the day. This was not to be, as the home team started like a train second half and scored early after a shot from the edge of the box appeared to wrong foot the unsighted Ospina. After that although we pushed ourselves forward you could see the energy literally drain from the legs of our players even though they thought they had time or could go past players the old legs would not react quickly enough. This lead to loseing the ball in posession,stray passes, and Newcastle being first to every second ball. You would of thought under those circumstances we would buckle and concede a hatful but we battled well and just after Le Coq got his nose broken again from a flailling arm the cavalry arrived. Although Theo was sitting on the bench and many expected him to be put on up front to push the opposition back or catch them on the break. However Arsene returned to his deadwood bringing on the the flaming flamini to operate with Coquelin not in place of him and the wizard who is TR7 who came on and quite simply passed the ball and then received it back giving us time and calming us down. With Callum struggling, Hector come on and Chambers moved forward to cut out another line of geodie attack and he even got forward enough to almost score late on. Ospina saved a close range header and their was a penalty shout late on but all in all we done enough to decide. This was undoubtably a game we (and many other teams) would not of won without the battling qualities. MoM Coquelin but the three musketeers made the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. George why not repost Seeb’s post above as the post match report?

    Like

  34. Because I’ve written one myself and its up.

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