Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1: Post-Match Thoughts and Player Ratings
Posted by enigma106
The Gunners ended a great year on a high defeating a Newcastle side that was in a superb run of form, winning seven from nine games in the Premier League. All it took was a stunning header from Olivier Giroud (thanks heavens, he has finally scored!!!) from a Theo Walcott assist and the Gunners held on to seal a victory that sent them back to the top of the Premier League on the halfway mark.
In his post-match press conference Arsene Wenger was delighted about the team’s resilience and mental strength but his hands were a bit tied in terms of selection. Mesut Ozil missed the game because of an inflamed shoulder and he would be odds on to miss the New Year’s day clash against Cardiff. Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal fell ill but luckily, Laurent Koscielny returned to the fray alongside the BFG.
Listed below are the Gooner Daily player ratings for Arsenal’s victors in St. James Park:
Wojciech Szczesny: The big Pole dominated his area by coming out to claim some tricky crosses and he also made some outstanding saves in the course of the game. 7/10
Bacary Sagna: Sagna had a stellar performance and kept the free-scoring Yoann Gouffran at bay all game long. His distribution wasn’t as sleek as it has been in recent times but it was a great performance from the French fullback. We need to sort out his contract soon. 8/10
Kieran Gibbs: Gibbs struggled initially after being stretched by Mathieu Debuchy but as the game progressed, he found his footing. Like Sagna, his output in the final third wasn’t all that till he was replaced by Mikel Arteta in the second half. 6/10
Per Mertesacker: The captain of the day put up another exemplary performance in the heart of Arsenal’s defense, using his height to great effect as well as making those trademark Merteceptions. 8/10
Laurent Koscielny: After missing two games with a gashed knee, the unsung hero joined forces with his right hand man and they became a tight-knit bunch in the defense. With performances like this that culminated into another clean sheet, one can agree that it would take only injury or suspension to bring Thomas Vermaelen back into the side. 8/10
Mathieu Flamini: The Flanimal was a rather surprising inclusion ahead of Arteta but he justified his selection with another rugged performance protecting his back line with an iron fist. His utility was on show again when he was drafted as an auxiliary left back to accommodate Arteta in the middle of the park. 8/10
Jack Wilshere: Many (I included) had thought that Aaron Ramsey’s absence in midfield would offer Wilshere a chance to strut his stuff in his favored box-to-box midfield role but despite “fresher” than any of his teammates on the pitch, Jackie Boy put up a rather sub-standard performance and his passing was very erratic. He needs to step up his game or he’d find himself a warm cozy spot on the bench when everyone is fully fit. 5/10
Tomas Rosicky: One tends to wonder if Rosicky is really 33. His work rate, tackling and energy were the major highlights of his performance but he didn’t really offer much from an attacking perspective, despite playing as the creative hub of the team. 7/10
Santi Cazorla: After giving the fans a glimpse of the old Santi Cazorla on Boxing Day against West Ham, the diminutive Spaniard put up a rather subdued performance and failed to make his mark on the game. He’s really struggling on the left wing this season but I don’t see him displacing Ozil from the No. 10 role anytime soon. 6/10
Theo Walcott: Walcott was a somewhat peripheral player in the course of the game but he had his moments of immense quality as he provided a neat assist for Giroud and almost scored another but was stopped by the woodwork. The stunning thing about Walcott’s play this season is that you won’t feel his impact in the course of the game but in one moment he provides a clinical edge, which becomes a potent weapon. 7/10
That was a moment that Giroud needed and you could see the relief in his celebration. Strikers are judged on goals and when a drought sets in, it clearly affects their confidence. Hopefully, this would spur him on to have a great 2014 with his team but he’d be mindful of the club’s dealings in the January transfer window. 7/10
Mikel Arteta: Came in for Gibbs and added some solidity to the midfield as you would expect from the imperious Lego-haired Spaniard. 7/10
Carl Jenkinson and Nicklas Bendtner didn’t play long enough to get ratings.
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