By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal made 3 changes compared to the team that started the last match.
Flamini came back in the team in the place of Chambers and Koscielny took back the place of Gabriel. At left back Monreal came in the team again in the place of Gibbs.
The team that started: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud
On the beach: Gabriel, Gibbs, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide, Ospina, Chambers, Campbell
A first dangerous cross from Bellerin but a defender can clear for a corner in the first minute. Bellerin again away on the flank but the Ox was too much out of balance to put it over the line. Two good chances in the opening minutes. After a corner there is a great deal of confusion in the Newcastle penalty area but Arsenal cannot capitalise. Walcott just can’t find enough room to get in a shot. Nice one touch football from Arsenal leading to another corner but no end result. So still 0-0 after 15 minutes.
Cech then had to be alert for the first header from Newcastle but he could push away the first header and hold on to the next shot. Taylor now for some 18 minutes ignoring any possible foul in favour of Arsenal but quick to punish every single one from Arsenal. Perez with a shot that goes wide. Arsenal not more as dominant as in the opening minutes. Still 0-0 after 30 minutes.
Oxlade-Chamberlain with a counter after a corner but Theo cannot control the ball when he gets it back from Ramsey in a promising position. Newcastle already taking lots of time to bring the ball back in to play each time. Colback bringing Giroud down when Arsenal start a counter and gets a deserved yellow card for his foul. Oxlade with a fine run, a pass to Giroud but a defender can just divert his shot in to a corner. Bellerin then with a bad pass in to the feet of Mitrovic but Per stays calm and heads the ball that bounces around to Cech. Mitrovic with a overhead kick but straight at Cech. Ramsey with a bad interception forcing Cech to make a brilliant save. Özil with a free kick in extra time but nobody at the end of it. So after a good start Arsenal drifted a bit in and out of the match in the first half and we go in the dressing room with a 0-0 score.
Cech with a great stop when Newcastle break and Wijnaldum one on one with our keeper but he makes a great stop. At the other end Giroud cannot make enough contact with his head to put the ball over the line. At the other end Mitrovic misses from close range. The match suddenly wide open in the opening minutes of the second half. Ramsey with a low sliding effort… not even 5 minutes in the second half…
Meanwhile Taylor giving every decisions very consistently against Arsenal when possible. Koscielny with a little pass to Giroud whose lobb is deflected but Taylor gives a goal kick… Still 0-0 after 60 minutes.
Every Newcastle player going down gets a free kick from Taylor who sees his chances of screwing us over getting bigger and bigger. A few free kicks for Newcastle pinning Arsenal back for a while. Arsenal players feeling what is going on and getting a bit frustrated. Losing concentration on the match is a known result from blowing only fouls from one team. After Newcastle really overdoing it with time wasting the ref finally gives a yellow card.
After 68 minutes Campbell comes on for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsenal get a corner, Özil takes, Giroud heads it on after defender looped it high in the air and Koscielny came from behind a defender to push the ball over the line. GOAL! 1-0 to The Arsenal after 72 minutes.
Another corner for Arsenal but the shot from Monreal is blocked by Newcastle bodies. Monreal then with a cross that causes danger but the shot from Theo goes over. Amazing how quickly Newcastle can restart now after a goal kick….
Mitrovic at the other end with a header but over. Gibbs comes in on in the place of Walcott. Flamini gets a yellow card for a high foot, no complaints there. Taylor continuing to give fouls for each Newcastle player going to ground. Newcastle get a corner but Wijnaldum heads it over.
Arsenal with a good attack but the cross shot from Bellerin is punched away by the keeper and Newcastle can clear. Ramsey with a shot but again the keeper can stop it. Final substitution for Arsenal when Giroud goes off and Chambers comes on.
Ramseys sends Giroud away and gets it back, dribbles past the last man and misses the goal… And a minute later Özil with a low shot but again the wrong side of the post. Taylor then giving the first 50/50 to Arsenal in extra time. Wonders do happen. But with only a 1-0 anything can happen and Cech is on hand to stop an effort from De Jong in the final seconds.
Not the prettiest of wins but a big win after a very hard Christmas period. We get 9 points out of 12 and with Leicester not being able to win against Bournemouth we now have a two point gap between us and the team in 2nd place.