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Olivier Giroud on Fire at Tyneside

Francis Coquelin (left) and Calum Chambers (right) congratulate Giroud following his second goal of the afternoon

Newcastle 1 (Sissoko 48′) – Arsenal 2 (Giroud 24′, 28′)

Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

With Manchester City winning against West Brom, it was important for the Gunners to maintain their momentum against a Newcastle side they had a quite impressive record against. Arsene Wenger made some changes from the squad that beat Monaco with Gabriel Paulista and Aaron Ramsey coming into the fold with Per Mertesacker rested and Mesut Ozil missing out due to illness.

The home side were the quickest to get off the mark with Ayoze Perez firing a shot that was blocked by Gabriel. On the other end, Alexis Sanchez swung in a cross that was bound for Giroud but Tim Krul anticipated it. Giroud did really well to nick in a lovely pass for Ramsey but the Welshman’s finish was pathetic.

Arsenal opened the scoring when Giroud reacted quickly to a Danny Welbeck flick to guide the ball past Krul.

That was his seventh Premier League goal in nine League games but that wasn’t enough for the Frenchman as he latched unto Santi Cazorla’s corner to give the Arsenal lead some cushion. Prior to Giroud’s second strike, Alexis combined with Welbeck twice but the Englishman wasn’t in the same wavelength with the Chilean. Welbeck went on to have a slalom run but there was no end product from it.

Newcastle began the second half with more urgency and got a goal right from the onset when Moussa Sissoko side-footed Remy Cabella’s cut back past a hapless David Ospina. Maybe the goalie line of sight was impaired by Gabriel but his reaction to the shot was quite comical.

Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina can only watch helplessly as Sissoko's effort nestles into the bottom corner of his goal

That goal took the wind off Arsenal’s sails and it was all Newcastle from then henceforth. Ayoze fired a looping shot that went wide, Gouffran fired a tame shot that was saved by Ospina, Williamson was next to get in the act with a point-blank header that was saved by the goalie then Daryl Janmaat blasted a long range volley that went wide.

Newcastle’s pressure was incessant and I thought the Gunners were going to concede. Arsene Wenger brought on Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini to shore things up in midfield. Following some more pressure on Arsenal, Welbeck had a breakaway on the left where he used his pace to great effect to evade his marker but he couldn’t beat Krul on his near post.

Late on, Ospina made another great unorthodox save from Perez and Arsenal brought on Bellerin to wind down the clock. The young fullback did well to get a clear chance but he attempted to tee up Giroud. Luckily for Newcastle, Krul was on hand to smother the ball.

Wenger was obviously happy in his post-match press conference but he stressed on the next to remain focus and take each game as they come. Giroud deserves a mention for his awesome run of form in recent weeks. Danny Welbeck has even admitted that he’s on fire,

“Oli’s been on flames and he’s worked very hard to get the goals. “He’s winning points for the team and I think collectively everyone has been very impressed with the way he’s been playing in 2015.

“He’s big and strong, and if defenders get tight to him, he can hold the ball up and bring others into play. I think we utilise that strength of his very well.”

Giroud has suffered some criticism from the fans and media vultures but in recent weeks he has made all his critics to watch in awe as he has been blasting the goals in. I’m so happy for the lad and I hope his good form continues.

Sayonara.

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Newcastle Preview: Keep the Momentum Going

What dafuq happened last night?

Don’t ask me, and trust me, I won’t tell.

I have a meeting in 20 minutes time at work (it’s 10.40am as I write this) so this would be a quick one. There’s no point talking about Europe anymore because it’s a thing of the past. All we can do now is to look forward to the run of fixtures left in the Premier League as well as some FA Cup action coming up next month. The Gunners have been in superb form lately, winning five consecutive games in a row since the embarrassing 3-1 loss to Monaco that cost them a place in the Champions League quarterfinals. Today, Arsene Wenger’s men come up against a Newcastle United side that has been in a run of poor form with just one win in their last six games.

John Carver’s men have been carved open in recent weeks with their last result against a pretty shitty Everton side compounding their miseries. The Magpies have lost three of their last four league matches, conceding nine goals in the process. Newcastle is currently languishing in 11th place and I believe that the team has enough in its tank to retain it’s Premier League status. As always, the team is currently plagued with injuries and their captain’s suspension would definitely not help their cause but I’m sure the Gunners don’t care. When they visited the Emirates earlier in the season, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla did the damage in a 4-1 thrashing with Giroud scoring the pick of the bunch. The French forward has been in pretty good form recently, and the Gunners would be hoping that he’d get among the goals today.

The Gunners are unbeaten in the last eight Barclays Premier League games against Newcastle, winning the last six in a row. and they’re the only team ever to not win a Premier League game after being 4-0 up at half-time, when they drew 4-4 with Newcastle at St James Park in February 2011. However, Newcastle have failed to score in their last three Premier League home matches against the Gunners.

Team News

The usual suspects are still out injured but Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Tomas Rosicky has returned to the fold following his recent bout with sickness. The manager recently offered his thoughts in resting Alexis Sanchez but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I have a hunch that the manager would make some changes to the squad against Monaco to keep things fresh. Theo Walcott is a player that needs some games and I see him replacing Danny Welbeck in the starting lineup. Aaron Ramsey also came from the bench on Tuesday to score a vital goal and he’d be itching to get some game time in his bid to full fitness but that’s a headache the boss has to face himself. According to the manager, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy are a couple of weeks away.

Injury Updates

Newcastle United: Rolando Aarons (hamstring), Massaido Haïdara (knee), Mehdi Abeid (thigh), Paul Dummett (knee) Cheick Tioté (knee), Steven Taylor (Achilles, ), Luuk De Jong (collapsed lung), Fabrizio Coloccini (suspension), Papiss Cisse (suspension)

Arsenal:Serge Gnabry (lack of match fitness), Mikel Arteta (ankle), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Abou Diaby (calf), Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring)

Team Form

Newcastle United

  • Last Five Games: L W L D D
  • Last Result: Everton 3 Newcastle United 0
  • Leading Goalscorer: Papiss Cisse (11)

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W W W W W
  • Last Result: Monaco 0 Arsenal 2
  • Leading Goalscorer: Alexis Sanchez (19)

Predicted Lineups

Newcastle United (4-5-1): Krul; Ryan Taylor, Williamson, Janmaat, Colback; Sissoko, Anita, Obertan, Cabella, Amoebi;iviere

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla, Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud

Gooner Daily says 0-3 to the Arsenal

Sayonara.

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Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0: One Foot Away From Champions League Qualification

Arsenal vs. Newcastle United: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

Emirates Stadium (Premier League)

Arsenal: Koscielny 26′, Ozil 41, Giroud 67′

Player Ratings via Evening StandardMatch HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

After a frantic wait, the Gunners finally had a golden opportunity to give themselves some breathing space in the race for Champions League qualification after Everton stumbled against Southampton on Saturday. As expected, Arsene Wenger fielded an unchanged lineup from the side that was victorious against Hull but the dugout had a lot of quality options.

Arsenal came out of their shells early with some ‎intricate passing play between Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla . When the ball fell to Lukas Podolski’s feet, the Emirates held its breath as the fans expected another thunderbolt from that evil left foot of his but he chose to tee up Nacho Monreal whose cross was blocked.

After Ozil had lashed a shot just wide off the mark, Ramsey and Giroud connected well to instigate an attack but the final ball from Ramsey didn’t match his French teammate’s expectations. Shortly afterwards, Moussa Sissoko went all Messi on the Arsenal defense but his effort was blasted over the bar.

Arsenal broke the deadlock when Laurent Koscielny latched on to a Santi Cazorla cross to fire the ball past Tim Krul. It had the same Shaolin soccer style of last season but Arsenal fans didn’t care. Podolski had another half chance that was saved but Newcastle almost got an equalizer when Cheick Tiote blasted a shot that was smothered by Szczesny. Ozil’s deft touch to Bacary Sagna saw the fullback surge forward before crossing a ball that was blocked before it reached Giroud’s path.

Giroud had the chance to make it two but after he went sent clean on goal, he blasted the ball straight at Krul before firing another shot that deflected off Krul to Ozil’s path. With such a gift coming on a platter, the German schemer graciously accepted it, blasting the ball into an unguarded net.

Mesut Ozil goal

Ozil then chose to wow the crowd with a magnificent piece of individual skill, leaving poor ol’ Gouffran to eat his dust.

Santi Cazorla had a chance to make it three but he blasted his effort over the bar. This season, the goals haven’t flowed for the Spanish magician as his last goal for the club came in the 2-2 draw against Southampton, a period when he was going through a purple patch of goalscoring form.

Koscielny lurked on the blind side of the Newcastle defense but his tame shot was some way off his intended target. On the other end, Remy teed up Gouffran that saw off the challenge of Koscielny before blasting his shot straight at Szczesny. Arsenal hit the final nail in Newcastle’s coffin when Ramsey threaded a neat ball to Ozil that wasted no time in lofting a cross for Giroud. The Frenchman obliged with a good header that left Krul for dead.

Ozil was pulling all the strings in midfield and he cushioned a pass for Podolski that was hit with a first-timed shot but the ball sailed wide off the mark. The manager chose to bring on the experienced heads of Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini for Ozil and Ramsey. At the death, Yaya Sanogo replaced Giroud. The French lad almost had a chance to score his maiden Arsenal goal but the offside flag spared Newcastle’s blushes.

Late on, there was a penalty claim for Rosicky that fell on deaf ears and Arteta fashioned a chance for Monreal that was fired straight at the goalie, while Sanogo was free. Podolski’s rebound hit the roof of the net.

This victory puts Arsenal in pole position for Champions League qualification at the expense of Everton, that have put up a good fight all season long. Credit to Roberto Martinez for proving his worth in a better team than Wigan. Lest I forget,

Sayonara

Bonus Reading: Ranking the Last 18 St. Totteringham’s Days by James McNicholas of Bleacher Report.

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