The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Newcastle Burns

five goals, two assists, and a scuff on the crossbar - Clive Mason

Goals on goals on goals on goals.

It's kind of hard to imagine now why I was so anxious for seventy minutes yesterday, after watching the last twenty minutes. So I think that, in order to avoid a case of cognitive dissonance that could drive me mad, I'm just going to pretend that Arsenal kicked the [redacted] out of Newcastle for the whole game, because it's just more fun that way.

GOOD

  • ALL TEH STRIKERZ: Yeah, Theo Walcott was pretty great. When he shifted to the wing with fifteen minutes left he already had two goals, and nabbed a third coming in from the left wing, which is a new wrinkle. He's (probably) not going to be as effective in the middle in every game as he was here, because he's still a guy who's vulnerable to certain defensive gameplans. But he's showing off-and-on that he can be effective in this role, at least in certain situations. Additionally, my love for Olivier Giroud remains strong. He was about an inch from a hat-trick on three shots in about fifteen minutes, and like Walcott, all three would have been different kinds of goal. Lukas Podolski also played well - perhaps one of his best games for Arsenal - and if you want, you can throw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in. The front three were consistently good.
  • The OC's goal: Speaking of Alex, he had his first Premier League goal of the year for Arsenal's second. It was a pretty good one too, with a high degree of difficulty. Coming (relatively) soon after signing his new long-term deal, it was nice to see. He liked it almost as much as I did, too.
  • Kieran Gibbs on offense: He did a good job of moving the ball around and keeping possession on the left flank. He also had a shot saved and assisted Walcott's second, which put Arsenal ahead for good. Unfortunately for him he's a defender, so there's a whole huge part of his job other than this, but we'll get to that a little bit later.
  • Wilshere on Arsenal's third: Tackle/takeaway to start the move from midfield, followed by a darting run into the box with the prescience to hold the ball on the endline, then loop a cross/shot in that led to Podolski scoring. It was unconventional, but I really enjoyed it.

BAD

  • Midfield and fullback defense: It certainly wasn't good. I recall one very good tackle by Jack Wilshere, but in general he was particularly ineffective, and really there was just an epidemic of failure to close down the man with the ball, which led to a lot of Newcastle's chances on goal. Gibbs wasn't all-around bad, really, but he could take a significant share of the blame for Demba Ba's second goal at 3-3, as he really just fell asleep and let Ba get position to receive a pass and shoot.
  • Failure to sustain: Each time Arsenal scored for the first seventy minutes, they were unable to maintain the pace and intensity of play that led to the goals. Each time Newcastle took advantage and struck back. It was more-or-less fixed in the deluge that took place at the game's end, but still, it's worth noting.

UGLY

  • Bacary Sagna: Not in the typical way; I find him to be a handsome man, though I'm not sure I'm down with the hair as a matter of personal preference. But could somebody please pull Gabriel Obertan off of Sagna before he breaks his face? Obertan's not an awful player, but Sagna made him look like David Silva. His tackle to foul Obertan (leading to Toon's first) was just bad, and he should have dealt with Obertan sooner. Sagna got dusted twice en route to the cross to Sylvain Marveaux's goal like he was standing still. He also got juked on the third goal and failed to close Marveaux down when he had the chance to prevent the cross being made. Bacary Sagna has long been one of my favorite Arsenal players and I'm not about to try to make this into more than it is, but I fear that the time he missed and injuries that he suffered last season may have sapped some of his consistency, which has always been one of his greatest assets as a player. It is, at least, something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
  • Wilshere's "header": Demba Ba could've killed him.
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