Arsenal fans are used to our team being disgraced away from home since January, and at half time today, Newcastle looked so dominant that it was only a matter of time before they took the lead. As the Guardian said….
Midway through the afternoon Unai Emery was quite possibly bracing himself for the sort of uncomfortable post-match scrutiny with which Arsène Wenger eventually became so wearily familiar. Emery’s Arsenal ended the first half seemingly barely able to string two passes together and apparently struggling to grasp their new instructions to advance with intricacy right from the very back.
At that point Newcastle United were pressing their guests into increasingly flustered submission and Rafael Benítez was clearly winning his battle of wits with Wenger’s successor.
Arsenal barely looked interested in the first half. No matter how much Unai Emery gesticulated on the touchline or how loudly he shouted at his players, Arsenal remained sluggish; a team playing without any sense of urgency or clarity.
The Magpies were not much better, but they probably shaded the exchanges before half time without really creating a clear chance.
But then it all changed in the second half, and this time I will show you what the Independent said…..
Arsenal did not just take the lead when Granit Xhaka scored a sumptuous free kick just after half time, they ripped the heart out of Newcastle United; shattering their confidence, destroying their self-belief. It was not a goal, it was more like a dagger cutting through a vital organ.
Until that moment, Newcastle had more then held their own, but once the ball had left Xhaka’s boot and nestled nicely in the top corner, the visitors dominated with a degree of ease that embarrassed those in black and white stripes.
Ordinary for so long, Arsenal were transformed, performing at their dazzling best, as they passed their way through a bedraggled Newcastle midfield and repeatedly opened up a flimsy backline.
I am hoping that the second half improvement was down to Unai Emery’s dressing room chat during the break, but maybe the Gunners just got the break they needed to feel more confident. Once we were 2-0 up it looked done and dusted but of course we couldn’t keep a clean sheet as we gave them a consolation at the end. We have only had one clean sheet in our last 12 away League games, and that was at Huddersfield, so the defence is still a big worry.
But three points is three points and we’ve moved up to 7th in the table. Another win next week at home to Everton will maybe see our fans feeling just a tad more positive?
We won didn’t we?