Perhaps it was the fact that the Arsenal and France international defender Laurent Koscielny had been rested by the manager for the last Premier League outing against Bournemouth that helped him to react quicker and beat the Newcastle defenders to the punch today and score the only goal of the game.
It was a vital goal and a vital win so if it did help that Koscielny had not played for over a week, then Arsene Wenger got his team selection spot on. It did look as though the centre back and the other rested Gunners Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Flamini had more of a spring in their step.
Koscielny himself spoke about it after the match today, and you can read his full interview on the Arsenal website. He admitted that the break had done him good and also suggested that one of the main reasons for the Gunners making hard work of it against the Magpies was the fatigue factor that comes from the busy run of matches over christmas and new year.
He said, “It was a tough game. Newcastle were playing very well, especially on the right-hand side with their right back and Sissoko as well. It was difficult but in the end we won and that is the most important thing for us.
“We started the game well in the first 10 to 15 minutes. We had good movement with good passes. After that we were a little bit tired and at this moment we knew we needed to be stronger at the back to keep a clean sheet. After that we knew we would have the opportunities to score the goal. During the game this was the case and then I scored from a corner to help us win 1-0. Sometimes we need to win like this.
“I’ve scored against them before but the most important thing is that the team wins and I am happy with the goal. We need to stay top.
“I was given the opportunity to score on the second ball and I did it so I was happy. It was important to start the New Year with a win.
“We need to stay focused because we have many tough games in the second half of the season. Next week we have more tough games and important ones against big teams so we need to have everyone focused on the job.
“During the Christmas period, when you play three games in a week, it’s very difficult for our physique. We have a good squad and we were able to rotate against Bournemouth, so all the players who played were fresh and able to do their jobs well.”
Now the Arsenal players have a week before the FA cup clash with Sunderland three days before we travel to Anfield for the league game against Liverpool. Do you think Wenger should rotate again for those two games and if so, which players should it be?