4-0 to The Arsenal. Say it quietly, but that’s another clean sheet for the team. A great result and a great confidence boosting away win for the team. That’s four wins on the spin and sets us up nicely for the visit of West Ham this Saturday. The Hammers will be hoping they can recover in time for that game as they were taken to extra time last night, so that can only be a good thing for us.
There must have been a big of Fog on the Tyne last night as Newcastle were unable to find their way to our goal in any kind of meaningful way. There was the first half chance for Ranger when a ball was played over the top, Szczesny came charging out, missed the ball and it took some good defending from Koscielny to block the eventual shot from Ranger, who seems to be a bit more Power Ranger than Lone Ranger. They had a few sporadic chances, but were never really at the races once the first goal went in.
The starting eleven for us was Szczesny, Eboue, Djourou, Squillaci, Gibbs, Eastmond, Denilson, Rosicky, Walcott, Vela and Bendtner. Quite a strong line-up. The subs were Fabianski, Sagna, Fabregas, Arshavin, JET, Lansbury and Nordveit.
Vela missed a great chance early on after being played in by Rosicky after some good pressing. It was good to see that pressing and it is something that I hope we do a lot more of over the course of the season. If our Champions League games against Barcelona taught us anything, it’s that pressing is extremely effective.
Our opener came in comical fashion that wouldn’t have been out of place in Auf Wiedersen Pet. The ball was cleared by the Newcastle defence, but was sent back in again by Rosicky, Bendtner got the first header which directed the ball toward goal, Koscielny and Eastmond went for it, perhaps Eastmond got the slightest of touches (and if not did enough to put Krul off), Krul flapped at it, Taylor cleared off the line only for his clearance to hit Krul, who was sitting on his arse on the ground, on the back of the head and go in. Keystone Cops stuff, but it put us 1-0 up going into the break. As Bryan Robson once said, that’s just what we needed.
For the second goal, Newcastle were caught cold by a run of the mill header forward from Djourou that somehow caught the defence off guard and allowed Walcott, who had timed his run perfectly, to get through on goal and finish well past Krul. Of course the goal was pretty controversial in that Bendtner was coming back from an offside position at the time and in doing so he collided with the recovering Williamson. Newcastle may deservedly feel hard done by as clearly Bendtner must have interfered with play, but it is doubtful whether the defender would have covered the ground in time in order to make a last ditch challenge on Walcott. Anyway, the ref gave it and it was 2-0.
The third goal came from more Newcastle ineptitude when a throw-in caught Guthrie sleeping, allowing Fabregas to steal the ball off him and play in Bendtner down the left who finished with a cracking right footed strike past Krul into the top corner. 3-0. The big Dane has made an impressive return from injury.
Of course the night wouldn’t have been complete without the obligatory pointless kicking and fouling by Dolly Barton. He really is a pikey.
The fourth goal came when a ball meant for JET found its way to Walcott whose speed took him through and he slid the ball calmly past Krul. 4-0. Nice.
Szczesny looked fairly solid in goal, first half-half rush of blood to the head aside. It is good that he should get another chance to show what he can do in the quarter finals. I’d be against putting him in goal in the league at the minute as he has yet to prove he can play consistently well at the highest level and also because talks on a new deal for him are not progressing. If he doesn’t sign, he shouldn’t play. I know you might say that he won’t sign if he doesn’t get games, but you could also argue that we shouldn’t increase his reputation only for him to walk away for free next summer.
A very good all-round performance and certainly made going to work feel a lot better today, despite the atrocious weather. Speaking of work, I’d best get back to doing some. Unfortunately, time is at a premium today.
Take it easy.