3 Lessons Learned From Arsenal’s Win Against Newcas7l3

Hat-trick Hero…Please sign da ting

The stage was set for another pulsating Premier League encounter between Arsenal and Newcastle.

As recent as two seasons ago, both sides produced an epic encounter that exposed the frailties in their defensive rearguard as the Gunners self destructed to throw away a four-goal lead despite playing with 10 men for most of the second half thanks to Abou Diaby’s sheer stupidity.

Last season, the crunch clash at the Emirates offered a different prospect as both sides through caution to the wind. When it seemed as if both teams where going to share the spoils of battle, a late Thomas Vermaelen surge upfront saw the Belgian smash in Arsenal’s match-clincher from point-blank range.

Vermaelen has become a more disciplined player this season, and for those that don’t know, he hasn’t scored any goal in this campaign. So much for being the highest scoring Premier League defender huh?

Judging from the team sheets displayed on Saturday, I expected the Gunners to be more than a match for the injury-laden Newcastle but it was important to keep half an eye on their Senegalese duo of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse. While Cisse turned out to be a peripheral figure all game long, the Ba Ba Black Sheep showed that he has more than wool.

After 90 minutes of pulsating action, 10 goals were scored and as expected, Arsenal made me go through too many emotional phases in one game. I had fits of joy, frustration, relief, shock, elation, disgust, euphoria, euphoria and errrr…euphoria.

Without further ado, here are three lessons I learned from Arsenal’s emphatic 7 – 3 victory over Newcastle,

Give Walcott the contract he wants, or someone else will

The Walcott as a Center Forward Chronicles began in the emphatic 5 – 2 win over Reading where, in fairness to him, he scored the goal that put the game beyond doubt. Arsenal visited the DW Stadium days later and Walcott was retained in his center forward position yet again, winning a penalty for his team.

Against Newcastle, Walcott spearheaded Arsenal’s attack with Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain supporting him through the flanks. Podolski sent Walcott through with a perfectly-timed pass and the forward’s first finish was a strike Thierry Henry would have been proud of.

Podolski was in the thick of things in the buildup to Walcott’s second goal after some good passing play with Kieran Gibbs. The German miscued Gibbs’ carefully-weighted pass into the box but the ball fell kindly to Walcott, that showed great composure in the midst of bodies in the box to slam his shot into the roof of the net.

Walcott’s hat-trick was pretty puzzling judging from the way he waltzed past his markers to when he showed great balance to stay on his feet before asking Tim Krul if he wanted some ketchup for his chip.

Walcott has surpassed his personal goalscoring best with Arsenal this season with 14 goals and he’s odds on to hit the 20-goal mark this season, provided he’s not sold in January, as Wenger has ruled out any move for the forward. (via the Guardian).

Yes, he has been abused for not having a football brain and he doesn’t have the frame of your everyday center forward. However, Walcott uses his pace to devastating effect and his clinical finishing ability has been a major highlight of Arsenal’s campaign thus far.

From the 1st of January, Walcott will be able to sign a pre-contract with any club in the world and there are so many teams out there that won’t waste a second in giving Walcott those six digits he’s requesting for.

Arsenal, if you don’t give Walcott the fat contract he’s requesting for, someone else will.

Giroud offers Arsenal another dimension in attack

The Headmaster

Giroud’s last goal in Arsenal colors came in the North London derby in mid-November. Since then, he has been desperate to get on the score sheet and his shenanigans against West Brom didn’t go down well with a faction of the Arsenal faithful. To add to his misery, his manager handed his favored center forward role to Theo Walcott that hasn’t put a foot wrong in that position.

When Giroud came on for the Ox in the second half, I actually tipped him to end his drought against that shaky Newcastle defense but I didn’t fathom the idea of the Frenchman grabbing a true hat-trick with his head, right leg and left leg. The last player I saw score such a hat-trick was Peter Crouch and you can never guess who the opponents were.

Bacary Sagna teed up Walcott on the right hand side and the forward wasted no time in swerving in an inviting cross that was nodded home by Giroud. Afterwards, Walcott attempted a slalom run on the right that was intercepted, falling into Giroud’s path. The Frenchman guided the ball to his right and beat Tim Krul in his near post.

Giroud was denied his first Arsenal hat-trick when he smashed the cross bar with a left-footed piledriver after some good work from Aaron Ramsey.

He arrived in the club as van Persie’s replacement and his return of nine goals has been heartwarming to say the least. Nothing gives me more joy to know that Arsenal has found a way to play to Giroud’s strengths and we all know that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the air.

This gives the Gunners an alternative route to finding a goal when all other avenues are exhausted.

The problem isn’t scoring, it’s defending

Arsenal has scored a bucket load of goals in all competitions this season. Surprisingly, this was the sixth game Arsenal had scored five or more in a game this season. Tottenham and Reading shipped in five, Southampton and Coventry received six and yours truly, Reading, opened their floodgates to receive Arsenal’s bountiful gift of seven goals.

Despite trying to outscore their opponents in many games this season, Arsenal has been shambolic at the back, and their defensive frailties were exposed yet again by Newcastle. The Gunners failed to hold onto the lead on three occasions before running riot as the game reached its climax.

Ba’s free kick

Wojciech Szczesny was blameless for Arsenal’s first goal as Demba Ba’s free kick took a wicked deflection off Jack Wilshere. The goalkeeper was absolutely livid with his defense for the second goal, as Sylvian Marveaux was left unmarked when Kieran Gibbs lost his positional bearings to allow the midfielder for a simple tap in. Gibbs was culpable yet again for Newcastle’s third goal, as Ba crept behind him to sidefoot the ball past Szczesny.

Funnily enough, Gibbs wasn’t the only defender having a bad day at the office. The usually dependable Bacary Sagna was run ragged by Gabby Obertan and it’s a game he’ll want to forget quickly.

In the heart of Arsenal’s defense, the pairing of Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny wasn’t as formidable as it used to be. On this note, it’s fair to say that Per Mertesacker’s influence was sorely missed.

In my opinion, the Verm and Bosscielny are somewhat alike, that’s why they need the calmness, composure and coordination of the Big Friendly Giant to steady the defensive ship.

Mikel Arteta was also exposed in midfield and he didn’t really protect his back four. Maybe Arsenal needs a recognized holding midfielder after all.


Taking everything into account, it was a great game of football for the neutrals and as what you would expect from Arsenal, the entertainment value of the game was in a world of its own.

Theo Walcott’s hat-trick and Olivier Giroud’s brace showcased Arsenal’s attacking prowess but there are still some unanswered questions at the back.

Feel free to share your own lessons as well.


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About enigma106

An Arsenal fan with a good sense of humor

Posted on December 31, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Fantastic blog. I agree with you on several points. The defending was just shambolic and I hope Wenger will realise we need a proper DM even if we don’t get any other players in. Our defenders are good enough but always seem to have weird lapses in concentration especially Gibbs in this game. Poldi did me proud. Had a fantastic game; both offensively and defensively. I still feel the need for another striker. Gerv and Chamakh not good enough. Overall it was a great game especially for Theo.

  2. Felt the same about our defending,and I’d suggest Bould sit the fullbacks and show them were they got it wrong cus they re vital to our play….

  3. Top of the bro…..Sure something must be done about the Defence ,may be a natural holding midfielder might solve the problem !

    • Yes, a natural holding midfielder is essential

    • @ben,its not a maybe thing again,but its d clear reality. a proper defensive midfielder is very much needed. Arteta is always itching 2 go forward and we always see d benefits any time he has oppourtunity 2 do dat. now d problem is our trio midfielders are forward oriented,only wilshere and arteta does d marking but any we loose d ball during time during attack,its always a problem 4 our defence cos d midfielders due 2 their attacking instinct are not always well positioned 4 a backfiring counter attacks therby exposing d defence. and even when dey are even well positioned,cazorla(most times forgets he is no more in the la liga) is always a problem whenever arsenal is defending cos he is always slow 2 closing down opponents which goes a long way in stopping d opponent`s attack. now d solution,wilshere is a very good attacking player,can as well close down and do defensive duties,now buy a proper,firm on d ground,physique,ball winning defensive midfielder(sandro,palacios,mulumbu,diarra,etc),throw wilshere forward,and arteta as d box to box midfielder,with dis,u ll c better performance 4rm our defence,which i believe has depth,and 1 of d best in d league.let cazorla come in 4rm d bench any time d manager wishes till he learns how d premier league is played effectively.
      To d forwards,poldosky did me proud on saturday,,much more of dat 4rm him. but i still prefer d trio attack of
      walcott giroud poldosky
      walcott`s ability 2 pullout and giroud`s headmaster is @ least a sure 2goals per match thing, Giroud can knock down 2 d right or 2 d left and walcotts pace and finishing ability means a sure goal,poldi nd walcott`s square play means @ least 2goals 4rm d head 4 giroud,another problem 4 d opponent`s defence and dat ll free d other 2 guys on both flanks,giroud can as well knock down in d opponent`s box 4 anybody 2 tap in(remember our 2nd goal by wilshere against montpellier in d CL),dat means walcott will roam regularly from d flank 2 d middle. this is a promising team,i tell u. compliments of d season,men.

  4. English defender are required, like the Stoke back 4

  5. Wenger pls sign walcot now because one of the best player in the arsenal squard is a dangerous player in the premiership

  6. Davas wesonga nicolas

    Wenger can you do something please.

  7. Let us sell off Sagna and bring in Jenknson.bse am seeing no future in Sagna.you remember Lauren Mayors and Ebue.

  8. Such a glorious match, but our defense is still better than ManU’s own, like a friend of mine said, ‘I don’t care if they score 9goals as long as we score 10’

  9. For your info vermalen scored against bradford.nice write up

  10. i was happy i didnt miss the match. i didnt celebrate any goal till Giroud’s header. if only he scored that perfect hattrick cos walcott has taken the shine off the frenchie. i feel everyone that disappointed/errored repayed back. gibbs had a hand in 2 goals, wilshere’s grit gave podolski a goal and sagna layed walcott for Giroud’s header.

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