Arsenal fans were understandably worried about which Arsenal team would be on display against Newcastle United at the Emirates today. Would it be the gutless Gunners that were simply blown away by Stoke City last weekend or would it be the awesome Arsenal that tore apart Galatasaray in Turkey?
And while Arsenal did not take the lead quite so early today, there was no sign of the timid performance that we put on at the Britannia stadium. The goal was not too long in coming either, giving Arsenal a rare first half lead in the Premier League. An excellent cross by Alexis was brilliantly headed in by the very sharp looking Giroud.
To be fair, the Gunners could easily have had the game sealed by the break, and Danny Welbeck was really unlucky to have his goal disallowed because of a very soft free kick decision from referee Lee Mason. His finish was fantastic and he looked completely gobsmacked at the decision.
There was a good shout for a penalty on Alexis Sanchez as well, but the free kick was given just outside the area. Apart from that, Arsenal played pretty well but Newcastle are in form and confident after beating Chelsea and they did cause our makeshift defence and midfield plenty of problems, but we stood up pretty well and would have been very unlucky not to be leading at halftime.
My frustration with the ref carried on in the second half, as he kept letting players in black and white off with a warning before adding the name of the Ox to that of Bellerin for two harmless tackles. But there was nothing Mr. Mason could do to alter the result.
Santi Cazorla scored a really good goal with a burst into the box, and a sublime finish from an Alexis assist. And then it was three just minutes later with Giroud bagging a cool second with a flicked finish. So with half an hour to play we were in cruise control.
But a bit of a switch off in defence from a free kick gave the Magpies hope with Perez getting on the score sheet. But we never really looked in danger and could have scored again, with Cazorla and Gibbs shooting narrowly wide from two of our many chances.
Podolski came on for Giroud with nearly 20 minutes to play and while we still looked to score, Arsenal were very professional and kept possession well and defended as a unit when needed to give the away side no encouragement. And after Coquelin came on for Alexis to shore up the centre, Welbeck won a corner which Cazorla scored with a cheeky chip to make it 4-1 and a thoroughly good game all round. Young Maitland-Niles also came on at the end for his EPL debut.
So with five wins from six games, can Arsenal fans look on the Stoke game as a blip and look forward to a happy christmas?