|29 Jan||7:45 PM||P||Newcastle United (H)||3||0||Win|
After putting any lingering memories of last week's Carling Cup game by dismantling Newcastle United on Saturday, the Barcodes make their second trip to the Emirates in the space of 3 days. This will be the third time the Toon visit the red half of North London after playing us in both domestic cup competitions, losing both.
The result on Saturday may have flattered the Gunners but has given us a psychological advantage over our rivals ahead of tonight's' league meeting between the two side.
With Tomasz Rosicky picking up a thigh strain over the weekend and Theo Walcott dropping to the bench, Eduardo da Silva and Aleksander Hleb return to the starting line-up. Bakari Sagna and Manuel Almunia also return having been given rests over the weekend with Justin Hoyte and Jens Lehmann making way.
Having watered the pitch just before kick-off and without a breeze in sight the conditions for the match seemed perfect for us to get the most out of our passing game.
Newcastle got us underway but we soon gain possession and a foothold onto the game. GaŽl Clichy looks up and played a 50 yard ball to Adebayor who manage to sneak away from his marker. Unfortunately for us the long ball was slightly over hit and Ade was unable to make contact.
A couple of minutes later Damien Duff, on the back of a good performance against us over the weekend, sent in a fizzing cross-come-shot which Flamini did well to block. That was a great chance for the Magpies.
Both teams were trying to get their games going and a slightly over physical approach from Newcastle saw Alan Smith come in hard and late on Almunia leaving the Spaniard livid. To be honest this was the type of challenge which gave Smith a reputation as a livewire throughout his career and it wasn't really a surprise seeing him still up to his usual tricks.
It also seemed like his team mates were being directed into making life difficult for us by making some of their own robust challenges, to put it mildly. A lightning quick break from Clichy saw the Frenchman play a quick one-two before being cynically taken out by Steven Taylor. In the meanwhile Abou Diaby has also had his ankle stepped on by James Milner. Clichy got up and carried on while a stretcher was brought on for Diaby. Things were looking serious for the Vieira look-a-like at the moment. Luckily for us he was back on the pitch within a couple of minutes after some lengthy treatment and wasn't really showing any signs of injury.
A couple of minutes later Eduardo was showing some great touches to get away from a couple of challenges before his low cross was cut out by Nicky Butt. Eduardo seems to be getting into the groove of things at this point and saw his threaded ball slightly over hit for Adebayor to get on to.
On 18 minutes Diaby sent a sumptuous cross-field ball to Hleb on the other wing. Hleb pulled a ball into the box which Diaby got on the end of, but sadly his diving header was off target, but to be fair he was under pressure and got a boot to the head for his endeavours.
Hleb also becomes the first player to be taken into the referee's book. A clumsy challenge on Owen was a result of an unusually heavy touch by the Belarusian. At least we seem to be giving as good as we get in terms of physicality at the moment.
Not looking to be outdone Smith catches Senderos with a flailing elbow while both men were contesting a header. Referee Mike Riley gives Smith a talking to but the former England international is left bemused.
Getting back to the football and after a back pass Shay Given clears the ball for a corner while under pressure. Eventually the corner is headed clear and the Magpies can breathe a sigh of relief after some uncertainty by their usually sound goalkeeper. Milner sends Owen through on goal but luckily for the Gunners the England hit man is flagged offside. It was a tight decision on closer inspection.
Sagna, playing a couple of one-twos with Adebayor, saw his fizzing cross hacked clear just before it reached Adebayor. It was a dangerous chance and the signs were getting better for the Arsenal. After some more pressure the ball is played onto N'Zogbia's arm from close range but the referee waves play on despite protests from Adebayor.
N'Zogbia seems to be in the thick of things at this point and cynically took out Sagna which promptly saw the young left back booked. The Toon really were under the cosh. Less than two minutes later Hleb played Flamini through down the wing and the Frenchman's cross was met by Adebayor but the Togolese striker saw his thumping volley whistle over the top of the goal. Easily the best chance of the game.
That is for a couple more minutes. Another powerful run from Flamini results in a cross to the far post which saw Adebayor direct his header into the back of the net for his 19th goal of the season and his 16th in the league.
After the goal we laid siege to the Newcastle goal but were unable to score a second goal. At the other end a rare Newcastle foray forward almost led to a goal had it not been for a last ditch challenge from Flamini who seems to be everywhere at this moment in time.
On cue the referee blew his whistle for half time and Arsenal go into the break 1-0 up and on the balance of play so far up to this point no one can deny the Gunners their advantage.
The second half starts with Arsenal getting us underway and continuing where they left off prior to the break. A floated long ball from Fabregas was controlled on the chest by Adebayor and the Togolese striker attempted an outrageously acrobatic bicycle kick but was unable to get any meaningful contact on goal.
It was all Arsenal for the time being, and the Gunners nearly scored a second after Diaby wriggled a yard of space before placing his shot just wide of the post. The signs looked ominous for Newcastle and all roads seem to be leading to Given's goal.
Arsenal were asking all the questions but as long as the score remained at 1-0 anything was possible. A second goal was really needed to kill the game off. Adebayor and Flamini seem to have understood this and after combining so well for the first goal, the tall striker attempted to return the favour to Flamini. The Frenchman's low daisy-cutter was heading into the bottom corner and forced Given into a smart save low to his right.
A few minutes later and Arsenal did get that elusive 2nd goal, and what a goal it was. Diaby and Fabregas combine to play the ball into Flamini's path almost 30 yards from goal and the French Pitbull launches an exocet which flew into the top corner of the net giving Given no chance whatsoever. This one was well worth the wait and if you can see it later on, then make sure you don't miss it. It really was that good.
The Gunners were not done yet and minutes later we were 3 goals to the good. A long ball out of defence was controlled expertly by Bendtner, just on for Eduardo, and rolled into the path of Fabregas who duly placed the ball into the net for his first goal since that game against Manchester United back in November. It was simple but effective. In the meanwhile Adebayor was taken off to a standing ovation with 8 minutes remaining and was replaced by Theo Walcott.
Arsenal were purring after this goal and went in search of a fourth to increase their lead. Fabregas had a great opportunity to do just that but couldn't keep his shot low when well placed inside the box. It was unfortunate.
Newcastle almost snatched an unlikely consolation a minute later. Fabregas had been harshly adjudged to have committed a foul and Nicky Butt, in an attempt to make up for his own goal over the weekend, came within inches of pulling one back for the visitors. His shot came crashing back off the bar and Gallas cleared the ball to safety. That was a close one for us, and despite us having the win in the bag, it would have been cruel to take away a clean sheet from the back five who all played their part in our victory tonight.
Ameobi came close at the death but his shot was straight at Almunia and with that the referee blew his whistle for full time in what would be a repeat score line from the weekend.
Next up is a weekend trip to the blue half of Manchester, and with City unbeaten at home this season we have our work cut out for us. Nevertheless we need to keep up the good work to keep the pressure on Manchester United who play Portsmouth tomorrow night.
Posted on 30 Jan, 2008 at 01:07 AM - Reply
Twas a good win.
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