Newcastle United 1 (Sissoko 48) – Arsenal 2 (Giroud 24, 28)
Man of the Match – Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
Arsenal registered their 6th win in a row, with a hard fought 2-1 win at St. James Park, after a tiring week that saw them win 2-0 at Stade Louis II, against Monaco, yet getting knocked out of the Champions League, 3-3 on aggregate. Olivier Giroud, who scored against West Ham and Monaco, kept his place up front, but Per Mertesacker, Hector Bellerin and an absent Mesut Ozil didn’t as they were replaced by Gabriel Paulista, Callum Chambers and Aaron Ramsey.
Newcastle were having another of those topsy-turvy Geordie seasons. After successive draws against Stoke and Crystal Palace at the start of February, they were thrashed 5-0 by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. This was followed by a narrow 1-0 win at Aston Villa, before a late Ashley Young goal gave Manchester United 3 points at the St. James Stadium. They were then beaten 3-0 by the under-performing Everton.
The match started in a bright fashion, with Alexis almost setting up the highly confident Giroud. Gabriel seemed up to the task as he blocked a Newcastle effort from inside the box. Newcastle, who had a week”s rest, looked the more energetic side, as they looked to capitalize on Arsenal’s travelling fatigue. They pressed Arsenal well, and didn’t allow the Gunners to compose themselves. However, they couldn’t create really dangerous chances.
Arsenal, too, were struggling to create any sort of action on goal, until the 22nd minute, when Aaron Ramsey, was played in behind the defence and had to beat approaching Dutch international keeper Tim Krul. The Welshman, however, could only miscue his effort. It didn’t matter though, as Arsenal were ahead within seconds of the miss.
After winning a free-kick in midfield, Olivier Giroud then completed the move, as he slotted home from a flick from Welbeck, after a Cazorla free-kick. Arsenal quickly set into action, and Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez combined twice in the space of 2 minutes. First, Welbeck volleyed wide, before the Chilean set up Welbeck again, but his touch was poor.
Alexis Sanchez was causing plenty of problems for Newcastle, with his marauding style, and the Toon defence were struggling to keep the former Barcelona man under wraps. His persistence won Arsenal won a corner, and eventually it’s second goal, as Giroud strongly held off the advances of a defender to nod the ball home on 28 minutes.
Newcastle were forced into action, as Arsenal defenders blocked successive shots. First, Moussa Sissoko saw his shot blocked, before his French international teammate Remy Cabella, saw his effort blocked by Nacho Monreal. Arsenal still looked sharp though, and Giroud could have had his hat-trick from an Alexis cross, but instead Ramsey connected with it, and the chance went begging.
Newcastle began the second half in earnest, and pulled back a goal, only 3 minutes into the second half. A ball was pulled back in from Callum Chambers’ wing, and Moussa Sissoko was on hand to score. This sparked the stadium to life, as Ayoze Perez almost made it 2-2, with an effort that went just wide of Ospina’s post. Arsenal looked tired, and were struggling to get their game together, as the home side compressed the midfield.
Refereeing decisions weren’t helping either. On one occasion, Gabriel was fouled, which ended up being a costly corner, as Yoan Gouffran’s effort from 8 yards out was saved by Colombian international keeper David Ospina. Coquelin suffered an injury to his nose, having come in contact with stray elbow (Ouch!). When he was being treated, Ospina had to make a point blank save to deny Sissoko from scoring his second.
In the 71st minute, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez were replaced by Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky. It didn’t make much difference, replacing the fatigued duo with the fresher duo, as Newcastle still kept up the pressure. A rare Welbeck burst came to nothing, as he had little support. Newcastle’s claim for a penalty were denied when Laurent Koscielny bought down Ayoze inside the box. There was no contact.
Newcastle kept spraying in balls, but Arsenal managed to ward off danger in the closing minutes. David Ospina was forced to save with his legs too. A barrage of corners required Arsenal to be at their best, before Welbeck was bought off for Bellerin. In the end, Arsenal sealed a 6th consecutive win, just before the international break, and the clash with Liverpool.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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