Newcastle Review – Partey and the youngsters inspire Arsenal

Arsenal have a Partey against Newcastle. by Konstantin Mitov

Welcome back lovely Arsenal people! We’ve beaten Newcastle again, and in the end it was comfortable. There will certainly be sturdier opposition this season as the north-easterners were really poor. I can’t remember Leno making a save at all. Still we were a bit slow in the first half. We had Auba hit the post when you really expect from a player of his quality to put it in, and not too much else created.

What changed after the break was our pace. We reduced the number of touches needed to move the ball forward, our runs were sharper and we saw individual quality from senior players. Thomas Partey managed to pick up the ball from a Newcastle set piece, turn and release Auba who picked it up on the wing one on one with their full back, took him with his pace and buried it.

The second goal saw Smith-Rowe picked, who did a couple of turns on their full back and then served it for Saka on a plate. Our third saw Saka and the surprising starter Cedric combine on the touchline, which released the Portugese full back, who managed to keep the ball in somehow and gave Auba one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 18: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates after scoring their team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on January 18, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

A few things stand out for me. Thomas Partey was immense. He was the boss of the midfield, with his control of the ball, his range of passing and the amount of interceptions and recoveries he makes is ridiculous. The quality to turn and pass for our first goal is something we haven’t had since Cazorla in midfield. He’s not even 100% fit and he hasn’t played too many games for us, but if this is what’s to come, oh my god.

I must say Xhaka has been sublime as well, since our resurgence started. He now has a midfield partner that’s on another level that can compensate for his lack of pace, and runners in front to pick out, so advantage can be taken from his passing. It’s just astonishing how the look of the entire team can change, when a few better quality players with the right attitude come in.

Football is a game where having one good area of the pitch doesn’t mean much if you get overrun elsewhere. Your defense will always be under pressure if you are overrun in midfield. If you don’t press high, balls will much easily reach your box and you’d have to defend more. Same goes for attack, if there aren’t people from the wings and the middle supplying balls, you’ll be isolated.

Our defense has recorded 5 consecutive clean sheets for the first time since 2009! Those were very different times. True the opposition we played was hardly the best you can face in the league, but it highlights the point. Our improvements in midfield and up front helped our defence. And the fact that Holding, Mari and Luiz have been superb. The full backs as well, Tierney is massive for us and so has been Bellerin. Today we played Cedric and he made an impact.

What ultimately changed our fortunes was the fact that we simply introduced better players in Saka, Smith-Rowe and Martinelli up front that gave us energy and desire. They are hungry for the ball. I look at Smith-Rowe and he’s everywhere, left, right, center, even tracking back and recovering balls. He’s looking for Lacazette trying the one-twos, making the runs, creating space. He’s been involved in 7 goals (5 assists, 2 scored) and that’s the most assists in the entire squad, when he’s been only playing since Christmas.

If I am Willian or Pepe I’d be embarrassed. The roles are reversed and the youngsters are the main men. I just wonder how long this can keep up? What happens when the academy combinations don’t work? The Palace game was an example, where I didn’t feel we had anything on the bench to make an impact. What do we do with the players I mentioned in the start of this paragraph? They don’t look like they fit into our current style of play and they are on high wages.

We’re slowly moving on players who won’t be used at Arsenal. Kolasinac left, Ozil is in Turkey, Guendouzi in Germany, Mustafi and Sokratis will be out in the summer, so the squad will free up some wages, which should be used to improve the balance. We don’t have back up for Smith-Rowe in the number 10, nor do we have an alternative to Saka.

Aubameyang put in 2 goals, which doubled his season tally, so hopefully he can pick it up, because a striker was also on my agenda. I like Eddie but I don’t think he is the answer. Maybe Gabi in the middle can be tested in a dire situation? We just need to distribute goals better throughout the team, and with Saka and Smith-Rowe adding goals from midfield, I think we’re in a better place.

Overall, there is a feeling that we’re moving in a forward direction for the future with decisions on the players who start the games and those who should be leaving. That doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near where we should be, but a shining path looks visible at least.

With half the season gone, we made 13 points out of 5 games, when we managed just 1 more (14) in the other 14 games. That is a pathetic statistic. We surprisingly had a better point tally of 13 from away games, and only 11 from home games before Newcastle, in 18 games split evenly (9 home and 9 away).

Our next games include Southampton away (probably twice due to the FA cup), United, Wolves and Villa. This season has been massively unpredictable but the next games will provide a much better test for us and a measure of whether we can realistically push for the top 8 or maybe even 6.


READ MORE: Watch Cedric’s sublime backheel against Newcastle


  1. lcw says:

    Of all the players mentioned Xhaka had more influence on the games lately because his contribution is non stop.

    Let’s hope we don’t sign anybody over the age of 20 and build a team from the ground up.

    ESR is a big star in the making. He is at his best when he moves freely on the pitch without specific assignment. Hopefully MA will relax on the sideline and let the boys play.

    Finally we shouldn’t get carried away because we played a bad team but a win is a win.

    1. adajim says:

      ESR is injury prone, its one of the reason he has been out of the first team for a long time, so we need cover

  2. PJ-SA says:

    Great win and we have good momentum, we are going to need it. Trying to take a step back and look at our situation objectively, the below is what I can deduce:

    -We are now 10th and looking much better, we do need to keep in mind that we have gone through a run of what most would consider “easier” fixtures but you can only beat what’s Infront of you and we’ve been doing that for the most part.

    -Villa is 1 point behind us, with a much better goal difference and 4 games in hand. Objectively, you could say they are ahead of us taking the reality of the situation into account.

    -West Ham, Southampton and Chelsea are 2 point ahead of us, all have a game in hand and are either level or have a better goal difference

    -Everton are 5 points ahead of us with 2 games in hand

    Our next 7 EPL fixtures are:
    Southampton (A)
    Man U (H)
    Wolves (A)
    Aston Villa (A)
    Leeds (H)
    Man City (H)
    Leicester (A)

    After which we would have played 26 of our 38 games (68.4% of the season)

    I am 100% aware that games in hand don’t mean too much in the EPL but as good as we’ve been, we have a very very long way to go. I am ecstatic that we are on a great run of form but at the same time I don’t think we should be overly optimistic that the club has turned the ship around completely just yet. After these 7 games we’ll see the level that we (and MA) are truly at. Have a good week everyone

    1. Highbury Hero says:

      Southampton (A) WIN BY STRUGGLING
      Wolves (A) WIN
      Aston Villa (A) ……………..
      Leeds (H) WIN
      Man City (H) WIN

  3. adajim says:

    i dont agree we have no cover for Saka. Pepe is ok , though lack confidence and consistency, he has the quality, and with right attitude he can do better than the current Saka.
    5 consecutive clean sheet is an achievement considering arsenal usual defending strategies. this has always been the goal of our gaffer MA, he wants us to be compact, conceed less and be clinical, c’palace had an organized defence and we miss the opportunity to score from set pieces lit city did to win 4-nil

    1. Khadii says:

      I’m not sure u’re talking about the same Pepe..
      Pepe is very useless and has a dull right foot compared to Saka.. so, saying he’s better with attitude is nonsense..cos Pepe isn’t a team player at all.
      And that’s his major flaw and why he may not succeed in this league

  4. siamois says:

    I agree Pépé as a cover/sub could do a job for us he needs to keep working hard in training regaining his confidence no matter what some people say the guy wants to do better!

    1. ozziegunner says:


  5. jon fox says:

    An excellent summation of where we currently are and also why, Konstantin. What I have been banging on for years about and what I saw happen but not until after the interval, was real PACE IN PASSING.
    Pace across the whole pitch is massively important and few fans pick up on it or give it ENOUGH credence. It is the difference between a successful team and a poor one and any even rudimentary analysis of our play this season shows it so very clearly .
    For pace, you need several things; confidence, players who think and can see passes quickly AND getting rid of ALL those like XHAKA, LUIZ and ELNENY(plus others) who will NEVER have the sheer ability to do this .
    Yes, Xhaka had a decent game yesterday against a simply woeful Newcastle but he is NOT but and never will be good enough for a top team with real ambition. He needs to leave us and we need perceptive fans to stop bigging up his slow passing and slow thinking, They are wrong and this needs saying.
    We now have perhaps 60% of a really good team BUT we urgently need ALL slow thinking, slow acting players gone, ASAP and replaced with sharper acting, sharper THINKING alternatives.

    See how ALL our most effective players have pace, both in passing and in their thinking. That is NOT a coincidence. Is it!!!!
    Definite progress then and if only WE HAD AN OWNER WHO CARED AND WOULD PROPERLY BACK OUR MANAGER, as other big clubs do!

    1. guy says:

      Yes very good Article Konstantin. Although the table is giving a false impression of our climb due to us having played more games than all around us, its still great to see better football being played at last. Agree totally with Jon about pace, quick control and passing along with positivity being key to the resurgance. ESR has been critical in the change. Impoved defending, desire and confidence have also played big parts.
      I could watch TP all day – the guy is poetry. Tackling was a little rusty but hes not yet match fit. We have our Patrick Vieira at last!
      Agree totally that Elneny, Luiz and Xhaka are too slow to play in this team and should be phased out. I would add Ceballos to that list. But that decimates our midfield. For me Xhaka would be the one to keep for the time being, as he had had some very influential games lately. Works hard, can defend and pass well, albeit slowly! Of all of those he seems to at least be trying to evolve into a more offensive thinking player. Or is it just me thinking this, because I just can’t help liking the guy for hanging in there after the year he has had?

      1. jon fox says:

        Guy I am afraid your view on Xhaka IS as you say , precisely because you admire his fortitude after what he has gone through. So do I by the way!

        BUT, AND IMPORTANTLY, I do not confuse that with his clear inability to play, think or pass quickly enough. These are separate matters from his fortitude but what IS of prime importance to all Gooners is simply this; is -or is not- any player consistently effective enough? On that basis the answer is an unequivacal, NO!

  6. Jax says:

    It’s good to see Partey get well deserved credit for a terrific performance. Two of those goals would not have happened if it had not been for his passing. Reminds me a lot of Xabi Alonso, he’s that good.

  7. Clive says:

    Partey after Partey, I can watch this guy all day, so Elegant I pray he stays fit. Holding is holding it. ERS is maturing. Saka has improved rapidly.Cedric was outstanding. Future looking bright. Mitov happy new year.

  8. Reggie says:

    I agree with most of the Article and xhaka has done ok but moving forward to get us into top four Xhaka will have to be replaced. He isnt on the level of midfield required, all top level midfielders have better a better touch and ability to carry the ball. Partey, when he plays shows Xhakas abilities up big style. I cant knock him for his improvement in lots of ways but we need better.

Comments are closed