By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal team : Cech, Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny, Willock, Iwobi, Lacazette, Aubameyang
On the beach: Ospina, Mertesacker, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Nelson, Welbeck, Nketiah
So a first PL start for the young Willock. And som important players like Özil and Ramsey getting some good rest. Further no Bellerin and Koscielny in the back line.
A first dive in the opening minutes from a Newcastle player and Taylor falling to it with both eyes open. Newcastle with an early corner as a result from the free kick but Arsenal can clear. A fairly open match between the two teams from the start. Both teams not much to lose at first sight and not much to win either. Both teams trying to go forward but not much openings. A bad foul on Lacazette is not punished with at least a yellow card. It could have been more than a yellow as he put his studs on the foot of the Frenchman. Mustafi then with a long ball to Aubameyang who controls it with outside and sends a cross to the far post and Lacazette is on hand to volley the ball over the line. GOAL! 0-1 to The Arsenal after 14 minutes.
A free kick to Newcastle but Cech with a good catch and then launches a counter attack to Iwobi who sends it to Aubameyang ont he left flank. He cuts inside but his shot is deflected by a defenders hand. Only a corner according to the ref. His hand surely was not in a normal position… A bit later Arsenal again in the Newcastle penalty area and Iwobi with the shot after some footwork but it was straight at the keeper. Arsenal having 70% of the ball so far and looking in control. Aubameyang trying a shot from distance but he slips, not the first payer I see slipping this afternoon. Newcastle surely sprinkled the field before kickoff. A low cross from Chambers has to be diverted for a corner after a good fluent attack. Mustafi with a much needed intervention when Newcastle use the long ball. The Newcastle striker would have been clear on Cech. Newcastle use another long bal, the flag stays down and Newcastle can continue their attack and the cross is finished by Perez at the near post. 1-1 after 30 minutes.
Perez goes past Chambers but his cross is cut out by Arsenal defenders who launch Aubameyang who is taken down but again no card from the ref. Willock being pushed and still playing the ball but Taylor gives a foul against him. Welcome to the wonderful PGMO world Joe. Perez then with a late challenge on Xhaka…. and still no cards. Let us hope this doesn’t end with broken legs. A free kick from Aubameyang ends up in the wall and Xhaka gives the ball to Monreal who heads in front of goal but Chambers can’t finish like Lacazette did and his effort goes out. A corner from Xhaka is headed over by Chambers from 6 meters out. Lacazette wins the ball back gives it to Willock but he completely scuffs his shot. That should have been the lead for Arsenal. Based on the chances we should have been in front but we go in at half time with a 1-1 score.
A rather slow start from both teams in the second half at first. Both teams not really playing fluent football. Too many players not linking up with teammates and trying to force something on their own. A good attack on the right flank Chambers with a good cross to Aubameayng but his attempted header to Lacazette is intercepted by a defender. A nasty kick on Monreal but still no card. Apart from that not much to report so still 1-1 after 60 minutes.
Taylor then wants to add his thing by letting some fouls go. Well when they are committed by Newcastle players. Iwobi with a shot from distance with his left foot but it went wide. After 67 minutes Willock comes off and Welbeck enters the field. Arsenal don’t clear a long high throw well enough and sudenly the ball comes in front of a free Newcastle player and he scores. Monreal had gone to help out centrally and nobody had followed up to cover for him. Arsenal 2-1 down after 69 minutes.
Arsenal attacking but Newcastle with a sharp counter and Slimani has a shot that is deflected and ends up again the crossbar. A 1-2 between Lacazette and Aubameyang is just cleared for a corner. Newcastle again with a sharp counter but the ball is shot in the side net this time. After 77 minutes Maitland-Niles comes on for Chambers. After a cross from Monreal the keeper spills the ball but the follow up shot from Lacazette goes in the side net. The angle was almost impossible. Iwobi goes off and Nelson comes on after 85 minutes.
Arsenal trying but not really with much conviction. Slimani gets a yellow card for time wasting. A combination of a very unfamiliar starting line up, some backup players and some young players who still have a lot to learn and you can’t really expect a good result. Arsenal lose another match away from home. The trend continues but the Europa League is the main target as the line up showed.