By Walter Broeckx
A match against Newcastle who had just done us a big favour by beating Chelsea. Newcastle also a team that had the same numbers of points as Arsenal at kick off. So not an easy match it seemed. And ref Mason at the whistle….
Arsenal team that started against Newcastle: Szczesny, Bellerin, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis, Welbeck, Giroud. On the (cold) beach: Martinez, Ajayi, Coquelin, Maitland-Niles, Campbell, Podolski, Sanogo. So two young kids over there.
The opening minutes the tempo was not that high. But Arsenal was in control without creating much openings. The first real fact to mention was Tiote who in his usual style planted his studs in the chest of Alexis. Not even a foul, let alone a red card of course. The first real chance was when an Arsenal corner was headed on to the crossbar by Per Mertesacker. But it was a first sign of the things to come.
A bit later a great interception of young Bellerin who playd the ball to Giroud. Giroud played it deep to Alexis and it look a bit wide, but it gave enough time for Alexis to pick out a cross to the on-storming Giroud who headed it perfectly under the crossbar. 1-0 to The Arsenal after 15 minutes.
And Arsenal doubled the lead minutes later when a great combination between Gibbs and Welbeck and the latter finishing with a nice chip over the keeper. But ref Mason didn’t want that goal to stand as a Newcastle player had fallen over on his own and he found that this was against the rules of great sportsmanship.
A bit later another almost goal when Alexis lobbed the ball over the Newcastle defenders but the volley on the turn from Welbeck went just wide.
Alexis away and a clear push in the back just inside the penalty area, the assistant signalled it and the ref….put the ball outside the penalty area. Not with only 1-0 on the score board must have been in his mind.
Meanwhile some hacking left and right and certainly Alexis was a target. Rotational fouling was present at its best and the ref seemingly unable to spot it. Newcastle got a few free kicks generously given by ref Mason and on one occasion Szczesny had to make a great double block. Well done from our keeper who had not much to do for the rest. In between Bellerin was the only player to get a yellow card.
We could have scored more in the first half but we crept a bit back in the last 10 minutes of the first half and so allowed Newcastle a foot in the match.
Newcastle tried to continue this in the second half but there were no really serious situations in front of Szczesny. Alexis with a great dummy to start a counter but then was brought down on the half way line. No card yet again…. But a bit later Alexis once again at the start of a goal for Arsenal. His wonderful pass was taken in his stride by Cazorla and he stayed on his feet under a Collocini tackle and finished the ball with a nice finish from a not that easy angle. 2-0 to the Arsenal.
Arsenal now really on top and apart from another yellow card for an Arsenal player we were in the driver seat. Bellerin going away on the right and his low cross was expertly finished by Giroud at the near post. What a wonderful attack and once again Bellerin very much involved. 3-0 to the Arsenal after 58 minutes.
Cazorla with another free kick that almost went in, but Mason was doing his best to give Newcastle a few free kicks and from one of them Perez could head in a goal. 3-1 after 63 minutes.
A little shock but Arsenal replied with some chances but neither Flamini, Cazorla or Gibbs could score the 4th goal. So the worry was what Mason would pull out of his hat. For the time being only Wenger pulling something out of his hat by bringing Podolski for Giroud with some 18 minutes to go.
Arsenal now hanging back a bit an trying to do something on the counter. Bellerin with a great escape but Alexis couldn’t hold on to his cross. Another break between Alexis and Welbeck but Collocini made a great interception. Finally a Newcastle player going in the book when Janmaat blocked Cazorla off the ball.
Coquelin came on for the much targeted Alexis but there was still a late twist in the match. The day wouldn’t have been complete with pigs flying over the Emirates. Because lo and behold with only two minutes on the clock Welbeck was brought down in the penalty area and Mason gave a penalty to Arsenal. Let me repeat: Mason gave a penalty to Arsenal.
Birthday boy Cazorla was behind the ball and he finished off the match with a real Panenka-penalty. This is oh so wonderful when it goes in but you can look stupid when the keeper doesn’t move. But the Newcastle keeper was lying in the corner looking at how the ball trickled over the line. 4-1 to the Arsenal.
For the second time in a row. I think we played some great football at times, defended when we needed to and worked hard and were determined to not get the ref or Newcastle in our way.
Great match, great score, great football. Great Arsenal!
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