Player Ratings: Newcastle 4 – 4 Arsenal

February 5, 2011

You can win with 11 men against 14, but 10 against 14 becomes a very daunting task. People will say that Arsenal should have done more in the second half, and I agree, but it doesn’t change the fact the standard of refereeing was just poor today and it’s not for the first time. It is there for all to see how much the ref can influence a game. And I know it will be forgotten in a minute and no one will talk about the refereeing as they will have Arsenal to talk about. And such pathetic standards will continue because the FA is incompetent to the very core of its existence.

Coming to the performance of the team, it can be divided into two halves.

In the first half we were very much in the driving seat as Newcastle were at times mere spectators. We controlled the midfield, our passing was sublime, the movement was excellent and the finishing was spot on. At the back we were comfortable as we dominated the game.

The second half, however, was very poor as compared to the first. Down to 10 men, we struggled to control the midfield as Newcastle attacked our goal aerially through set pieces and long balls. Upfront there was no movement as we were stuck up at the back.

Coming to player ratings:

Szczesny (7): Was a spectator in the first half. In the second he was the centre of attention. Made some brilliant saves and cannot be blamed for the goals. Still needs to improve his distribution on kicks.

Sagna (6.5): Good first half as we dominated the game. In the second did well on most occasions while we were being showered with long balls. Good cross for the assist on the fourth goal.

Koscielny (6.5): Top performance in the first half. Made some very good interceptions and was strong in the air. In the second he continued with it but we had too many long balls and set pieces to defend. The penalty conceded was very soft; in fact the ref was in no position to award it. However, he must be careful in the future in making such tackles in the danger area.

Djourou (7.5): Also had a top game. Partnered well with Koscielny and did well on every occasion. Scored a good goal. I hope he isn’t seriously injured.

Clichy (6): He too was brilliant in the first half. In the second made only one mistake that led to goal. Otherwise did well.

Diaby (7.5 – not taking into account his sending off): Impressive first half as he broke up the play of Newcastle very easily and linked up nicely with the forward players. However, he should have kept cool when fouled by Barton. It was what Barton wanted and Diaby complied.  

Fabregas (6.5): Awesome first half. The number of delightful balls he delivered in the first half was just a treat to watch. However, in the second he couldn’t do much as the pressure mounted.

Wilshere (6): He too was very good in the first half and similarly to all, vanished in the second. Isn’t the answer to our defensive cover in absence of Song, Diaby and Denilson.

Walcott (7): Looked dangerous whenever he had the ball. Took the first goal very nicely and good cut back for the assist on third. Provided defensive cover in the second half before he was substituted.

Van Persie (6.5): Scored three goals, one of which was called offside though. Provide good cover in defense in the first half but didn’t do much in the second. Delivered in some good free kicks and corners.

Arshavin (7): Another two assist to his name. Helped the team overall before getting substituted.

Subs:

Squillaci (6) needs to improve his communication with Koscielny as we can’t go on like this forever. Didn’t do anything wrong but also didn’t help the team with his experience. Rosicky (3.5) failed to do for what he was brought. In fact he made things harder for us. The second penalty was never a penalty, it was just incompetent refereeing which will go unpunished as usual. Eboue (4) also failed to provide cover in defense.

Well, we have certainly dropped two points which after the first half none would have imagined that we would drop. As it stands, we have to move on from here and not let this result be our downfall. There is still a lot to play for and with United losing, it’s not that bad. And I hope the result doesn’t affect us psychologically.

And seriously, one can only win against 14 men once a week.


Newcastle 4 – 4 Arsenal: I just can’t believe what happened?

February 5, 2011

Well, I don’t know what to expect of Arsenal and the Premier League referees after this.

The first half was out of this world by Arsenal, four goals in 27 minutes, we were cruising.

The second half starts, Diaby gets his marching orders, and we collapse like a house of cards.

Diaby’s red card was justified, he should not have reacted like that but what about Barton’s tackle. Why was he on the field till the end? That tackle alone deserved a red.

The penalties decision given by Dowd, unbelievable. Maybe there is some truth to what Fabregas was accused of saying. So many inconsistencies from the ref. He was in no position to see what happened on the first one and he straight way pointed to the spot. The second one, I haven’t seen a penalty being given like that.

However, we were at fault for our own demise too. We weren’t keeping the ball in the second half after Diaby got sent off. There was a moment where I felt we looked confident but that disappeared in a whiff when Newcastle got the first goal.  With Squillaci replacing Djourou, we also looked uncomfortable at the back. There was no communication and everyone was just panicking. Which brings me to where the hell was our leader on the pitch? Why Fabregas and Van Persie didn’t stand up and take charge? We had a four goal lead; we should have won this even while sleeping.

This also reminded me of when we let a two goal lead slip and lose to Tottenham earlier in the season. That was as similar situation, where in the second half we completely switched off. Rather, we have improved on that with a point today and with 10 men down. However, with all the injustices you can never let a 4 goal lead slip, it’s criminal to say the least.

Totally embarrassing result.

Rant on!!


Newcastle United vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

February 5, 2011

Today is yet another Premiership game and this time our opponents are Newcastle United, who have already beaten us at our home this season.

For me they are an unpredictable team as they have the knack of getting unexpected results. When they are on fire they can score plenty of goals, when not, they also concede plenty. Conversely, they can also frustrate with good organization at the back as they did the last time against us.   

This match is going to be difficult and we will need to be on top of our game to get the maximum. Newcastle will resort to the same tactics employed the last time they faced us. They will keep it very tight at the back and look for opportunities on set pieces and counters. However, with no Andy Carroll, our jobs will be slightly easier in defense but we would need to break them down upfront. And for that we will require a high tempo start and an early goal.

On the other hand, this game is going to get more difficult if we don’t score goals and Newcastle will be more than happy to get a point.

As for the starting eleven, I hope Wenger doesn’t make too many changes for this one. I will go out with the same team that started against Everton, replacing the injured.

Arsene Wenger has already confirmed that Szczesny is going to be in goal. As for the centre backs, I have a feeling that Squillaci is going to start today.  However, I would go with Djourou and Koscielny as we can’t afford to make mistakes at the back in this one. Sagna and Clichy must retain their places from the last game.

In the middle, with no Song, Diaby will get a start. Wilshere must keep his focus today and start better. Fabregas will complete the midfield.

Rosicky didn’t have a good game last time, so I would replace him with Arshavin, who certainly looked better. Walcott has been declared fit, so he must start on the right side. If not, then Bendtner will be the next best option. Van Persie to retain his place.  

Probable Starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Fabregas, Diaby, Walcott, RVP, Arshavin

As usual, the way we are playing we should win this and we must because we don’t have the option of dropping points.  However, we will need a similar display of character today which we displayed against Everton, if things are not going in our favor.

Three points is all that matters and I hope we don’t get any more injuries.

Keep your fingers crossed and let’s beat them like we did in the Carling Cup earlier in the season.  

Come on Gunners!!