Arsenal welcomed 3rd place Newcastle United on which was a fiery match for the neutrals with 9 bookings in total in the match. For any fan who thought this would be a spectacle and a contender of match of the season, they were far from it as in the first half there were 5 bookings. However, the match was entertaining as the tackles were flying from both teams, but neither Arsenal nor Newcastle United troubled the opposition goal as much as they would have preferred. Newcastle came with the game plan of stopping Arsenal’s lethal attack and defend with their lives. Newcastle did close to nothing in the game to trouble Aaron Ramsdale. Arsenal started quickly as expected and Martin Ødegaard came close after the ball found its way to him but failed to control the volley and the ball went well over the bar. That was the only big chance Arsenal had in the first half, which meant they played right into Newcastle’s hands and the tempo of the game slowed down which benefited Newcastle. After the first half chance of the game, the contest between the two teams became a little bit rush with the players of both teams throwing themselves into challenges with 3 yellow cards bookings going towards Granit Xhaka, Eddie Nketiah and Martin Odegaard of Arsenal and the other 2 going to Bruno Guimaraes and Callum Wilson of Newcastle.
The two teams going into a stalemate at the break holding each other’s throats at 0-0. In the second half Arsenal attacked the North Bank. The second half has begun the way it was expected with Arsenal in cruise control of the ball trying to breakdown the Newcastle’s defensive wall but to no avail. Minutes after resuming the second half Newcastle breaks on a counterattack but Callum Wilson was fouled by an already booked Granit Xhaka. Newcastle players surrounding the referee Andrew Medley to show a second yellow card to the Arsenal midfielder. Kieran Trippier takes the free kick and a chance presented itself to Fabian Schar but his heading effort goes wide of the goal. After the chance Aaron Ramsdale potentially could have costed the Gunners after a defensive blunder by the Arsenal Goalkeeper trying to play out from the back but Callum Wilson closed the Aaron Ramsdale down quickly and Newcastle failed to convert the gifted chance to them.
Arsenal keeps pushing men forward, dominating possession as expected but could not open the Newcastle’s defence which once again proved why they have the best defence in the Premier League. The second period of the match is going like the first went with both teams scrapping to keep possession of the ball but minimal chances on both sides. During the match, the ball has been in play 47 minutes out of the whole 90 which demonstrates how poor both teams were in creating chances and keeping the ball ticking. In the 60th minute of the game, Arsenal were awarded a free kick in a dangerous area. Bukayo Saka took the free kick and huge appeals for a penalty after Dan Burn had hold of Gabriel Magalhaes’ shirt, but the referee said no penalty. Arteta in his post-match said “two scandalous penalties” the second referenced the handball made by Jacob Murphy in the penalty area after he blocked the cross by Granit Xhaka with his arm in the closing moments of the game.
Fast forward to minute 88 a lack of concentration in Newcastle defence, Eddie Nketiah spins behind Fabian Schar but his shot was stopped by the long-left foot of Nick Pope. That was the chance that could get Arsenal scrappy 3 points, but it was not meant to happen.
This specific game shows what Arsenal lack if they will go toe to toe with Manchester City for the Premier League crown. With the January Transfer opened Arsenal should monitories alternative options in order to build a stronger squad depth and have a plan B, C, D and so on coming off the bench in scrappy matches like today. It is not a loss however, Arsenal fans left disappointed, but the Gunners stretch their lead at the top of the Premier League to 8 points waiting until Manchester City face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday at 20:00 to see if the lead remains at 8 points or if Manchester City will close it down to 5 points.
Written by: Andrei Petrescu (@ArsenalLover__)