Match Report: Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle United
Arsenal came into their third league match of the season hoping to replicate the controlled performance that brought a welcome midweek win against FC Twente.
The Gunners had yet to really get going in the premiership this season, and Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle side were hoping to further blemish their start to the campaign.
Arsenal Starting XI
Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy
Eboue- Fabregas – Denilson – Nasri
Adebayor – Van Persie
Newcastle Starting XI
Beye – Taylor – Coloccini – Jose Enrique
Gutierrez – Butt – Guthrie – N’Zogbia
Ameobi – Owen
It was less than two minutes before Newcastle’s defence was called into action, the powerful Coloccini landing a thumping tackle to dispossess van Persie. Replays showed a penalty could well have been awarded, but Rob Stiles was largely unsighted of the incident. Two corners followed, and from the second the ball was flicked into the path of Gallas who inexplicably fired over from less than three yards under little pressure. Playing alongside Gallas, Toure may have felt somewhat fortunate to take his position back from the recently impressive Djourou, but showed eagerness to earn the decision with an early burst forward and a trademark drive from distance. Shay Given in the Newcastle goal proved equal to the effort, palming the shot away from the bottom corner.
On 17 minutes there was no doubt this time with Arsenal awarded a penalty. A smart turn from Adebayor led to his cross being handled by N’Zogbia. van Persie stepped up and thumped the spot-kick beyond Given’s reach to cement the early domination by the gunners.
Goal: van Persie (17)
As the first half wore on Newcastle struggled to get a hold in the game, Arsenal’s comfortable possession and pace on the wings – particularly on the left with Nasri and Clichy – keeping them largely at arm’s length. One such move down the right eventually worked the ball to Fabregas. The spaniard played a measured through-ball to van Persie who produced a brilliant cut-back to Adebayor. The stunning build-up warranted more than the frontman’s shot sliding past the far post.
However the Gunners were far from done. Emmanuel Eboue may have been consistently criticised for some sub-par performances, but it was the diminutive midfielder that started a great break from midfield just before half time. Squirming away from three black and white shirts he spread the ball right to Adebayor who turned on the pace before returning the ball to Eboue. The move looked over until he produced a delightful backheel into the path of the onrushing van Persie who thundered his shot into the roof of the net.
Goal: van Persie (41)
Almunia was finally brought into action in extra time of the first half, Owen sending a looping header back across the Spaniard’s goal. The Arsenal number 1 showed good athleticism to tip the ball over, especially considering he may have legitimately been day-dreaming by the time the ball came near him. This was to be the last action of a first half of some much-improved football by Arsenal, who really played the Magpies off the pitch.
For the first quarter of the second half Newcastle attempted to even the flow of the game with faster closing and harder tackling. This went some way to affecting Arsenal’s flow, Butt heading against the bar from one rare successful attack, but the Gunners still looked dangerous on the break.
So it was that Arsenal added to the talley on 59 minutes. Denilson’s header out of defence started the move, and he kept running towards the Newcastle box. Nasri was instrumental in the build-up, but Adebayor it was who eventually was the put the young Brazilian through. His low shot was deflected past a motionless Given for Arsenal’s third.
Goal: Denilson (59)
It was back to business for Arsenal as Newcastle were put soundly on the back foot. van Persie almost scored a miraculous goal when he thrashed a shot against the underside of the bar from a truly impossible angle. This was to prove his last action of the game as he was taken off with another injury precaution. He gave way to Carlos Vela who looked to show his credentials for an important role up front this season.
Denilson’s performance was much improved and earnt his first Premiership goal, and after 70 minutes he gave way to Alex Song. Wenger soon after used his last substitution to bring on Walcott to replace Eboue, who equally had shown a noticeable improvement. Vela and Theo both showed an instant desire to impress and combined well for the mexican to fire a shot into Taylor’s midriff. From the corner that followed Toure rose and thumped a header into the body of Given who must have been seriously lamenting his defence – or lack thereof.
Nasri nearly capped a fine performance with a goal with 10 minutes remaining, but his freekick was tipped over by Given. From the corner Gallas’ header was cleared off the line; even as the pace of the game slowed the Gunners showed no signs of relaxing their assault on the Newcastle goal.
As the game drew to a close it was clear that Newcastle were clutching at straws, despite an impressive level of effort from Jonas Gutierrez. With Joey Barton’s appearance providing more entertainment than the football for the last ten minutes the Gunners wrapped up three points with three good goals which should go a long way to restoring confidence.
Manuel Almunia 7 – Performed confidently when called into action, starting to add confidence to the defence rather than remove it.
Bacary Sagna 7.5 – A relatively uneventful game largely bevause he kept the Newcastle left hand side very quiet throughout.
Kolo Toure 8 – Impressive on his return to the first team, quick and strong in the challenge in defence and moved forward often and to good effect.
William Gallas 8 – A very calm performance from the captain. Marshalled the defence better and personally put in a good shift, regularly disposessing Owen with ease.
Gael Clichy 8.5 – Explosive in defence and attack, is really starting to form a ‘Cole-Pires’esque bond with Nasri which could prove invaluable as the season progresses.
Emmanuel Eboue 8 – A vastly improved performance on any of his last 10 appearances in the Arsenal shirt. Beaten less regularly and creative going forward, he even went to ground less under challenges. Good play for the second goal.
Francesc Fabregas 8.5 – Quietly instrumental in almost everything going forward and some solid defending too, his importance can hardly be overstated to this young side.
Denilson 7.5 – Much better, but still some slack passing and the occasional mis-timed tackle. All in all deserved his goal which showed some good running and determination.
Samir Nasri 8.5 – Looks to have settled in record time. Classy in attack and regularly popped up in defence to make crucial tackles, potentially a straight improvement on Hleb’s place in the squad.
Robin Van Persie 8 – Had moments where he still appeared slightly off the pace, but was a consistent force in attack and both his penalty and second finish were well taken. Good to see him back among the goals.
Adebayor 7.5 -Toiled hard and created a fair few chances, but should have been more clinical with several of his own.
Carlos Vela 7.5 – Looked really enthusiastic when he came on, could have shot more often
Alex Song 7 – Did little of note but could be more useful this season
Theo Walcott 7 – Should have scored after one glorious move, but turned the defence well.
Gooner Talk’s man of the match: Samir Nasri – van Persie may take many people’s vote for the two crucial goals, but for an overall balanced performance Nasri was probably the most influential. Found good space around the Newcastle defence and tracked back in a way Hleb almost never did, Wenger has returned to France to pick out another gem of a player.