Daily Archives: May 8, 2023
Final Result: Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal (Odegaard 14′, Schar OG 71′)
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White, Kiwior, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Tierney 61′); Jorginho, Xhaka; Saka (Nelson 87′), Odegaard (Partey 80′), Martinelli (Trossard 80′); G. Jesus (Nketiah 87′)
When Arsenal visited St. James’ Park last season, Mikel Arteta’s side lost further ground on their Champions League qualification push, as Tottenham garnered the points needed to oust their North London neighbors to the trenches of Europa League football. The tides have turned this season, with Tottenham trying to even earn a Europa League spot, while Arsenal have moved on to bigger and better things, challenging for the Premier League title. After a bad run of results that saw Arsenal draw three on the spin before losing the potential title decider to Man City, the Gunners got a win over Chelsea to steer the ship in the right direction, but had an all-important clash against Newcastle on the same ground they lost around this time last year.
The last North London side to visit Newcastle’s hallowed ground were thrashed resoundingly, and with the defeat from last season still lingering on the minds of the players, Arteta had to give them the right level of motivation. In terms of team selection, Jakub Kiwior and Jorginho kept their place in the team, but Gabriel Martinelli was favored ahead of Leandro Trossard.
One of the ongoing themes of the season has been how poorly the Gunners start games with the two fastest goals in the Premier League this season scored against Arsenal, and it was on show yesterday, when as early as just 90 seconds into the game, Newcastle had a breakaway moment with ex-Gunner, Joe Willock, escaping down the left before teeing up Jacob Murphy whose effort clattered the post, sparing the Gunners’ blushes. The Newcastle onslaught continued when Oleksandr Zinchenko was found wanting in his defensive post, allowing Kieran Trippier to cushion the ball to Bruno Guimaraes at the edge of the area. The Brazilian’s weak attempt of a shot smashed Kiwior’s thigh before finding its way to his arm, despite his best efforts to remove it. However, common sense prevailed as the VARs made the right call, ruling out the penalty.
That was a massive let off for Arsenal, but they responded in the best possible way, with Martin Odegaard receiving a pass from Jorginho before letting one rip from 25 yards, between Sven Botman’s legs to make 1-0 to the Arsenal. That was Odegaard’s 15 Premier League goal of the season, showcasing why he was indeed a worthy nomination for a place in the Team of the Season.
Nick Pope has been one of the most exemplary performers for Newcastle this campaign, making save after save in what has been a tremendous run for the Magpies that could see them play Champions League football at the end of the season. His saving prowess was on show again, when Odegaard sent a through ball for Martinelli, whose shot was saved by Pope. Odegaard picked up the pieces with the rebound and fired a fierce strike that was also palmed away by Pope. Moments later, Martinelli found Bukayo Saka, that bore down on goal, but his shot was also saved by Pope.
Ramsdale wasn’t going to be left out on the goalkeeping clinic, making himself big to save a goal-bound shot from Willock. It was a very physical contest, with the referee allowing a lot to be swept under the carpet, but Arsenal had a glorious chance to go two goals up just before the break when Martinelli found Odegaard in the six yard box and only Pope to beat, but his right-footed shot was saved by the impressive Pope. Call it a poor shot from Odegaard or an outstanding save from Pope, the bottom line was that Arsenal had several big chances to put the game beyond any doubt and failed to capitalize on it. Then when you think about the recent results as well as Newcastle’s strength in front of their home crowd, it was a legitimate cause for concern.
Newcastle came out stronger after the break and almost got the equalizer on two swift occasions. First, a simple dinked cross that was headed to the post by Alexander Isak with Ramsdale rooted to the spot, and a point blank header from Fabian Schar that saw Ramsdale make a super save to keep Newcastle out.
It was really end to end stuff, as Jesus combined well with Martinelli that went on a slalom run before curling a shot that clipped the cross bar. Zinchenko was getting roasted all game long defensively, and Newcastle focused on his flank, so it was to the relief of everyone connected with Arsenal when Kieran Tierney was summoned to take his place. Arsenal doubled their money when Martinelli went on a mazy lung-bursting run that saw him take all comers before drilling it into the danger area from the byline, but Schar was on hand to toe poke it into his own unguarded net. Late on, Schar tried to atone for his error with a good effort that sailed over the bar with Ramsdale scrambling, but the Gunners held on to go one point behind Man City in this topsy-turvy of a championship race.
Man City had narrowly defeated Leeds on Saturday and have the business of the Champions League semifinals to take care in mid-week and its going to be interesting to see how the next couple of weeks pan out in this pulsating title race. Arsenal has shown great maturity and have gotten their fair share of revenge on some grounds they lost season.
At least, they managed to secure away day revenge against the Magpies.
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