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.
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.