By Shaun Wares
Another shocking goalkeeping error from Lukasz ‘Flappyhandski’ Fabianski cost Arsenal dearly against Newcastle at the Emirates this afternoon, you can watch the goal here. After a positive run of games, the Polish keeper made another trademark mistake, flapping haphazardly at a Newcastle free kick, drifted in towards the head of Andy Carrol, who duly out-muscled a half-committed Fabianski. A Chelsea win today would surely finish off any realistic Arsenal title aspirations.
Arsenal’s problems undoubtedly started with Fabianski, but they were poor in all areas of the pitch. Even the most avid Arsenal fans will be sitting in their armchairs, heads in hands. Not only did they overplay in the final third, but lacked any real imagination and urgency going forward until it was far too late in the game. Credit goes to Newcastle for nullifying the threat posed by Arsenal, but it does not take a genius to work out that a physical approach will succeed against the Gunners nine times out of ten. If Arsenal are to maintain a title challenge over an entire season, they must add the physical element to their game.
There was very little threat going forward from the Magpies’ lumbering front men. Plaudits will go to Andy Carroll for a what many will see as a fine display, but his job was made far too easy by an Arsenal back line lacking any motivation. A needless red card in the ninety second minute will only heap misery on top of what was frankly a shambolic Arsenal performance.
Wenger’s substitutions typified a performance devoid of creativity and lacking a cutting edge. A disappointing return for van Persie, whose first touch of the ball promised much but ultimately failed to deliver over the rest of the game. Arshavin showed glimpses of brilliance, turning Guttierez with ease at times, but despite his good service, Chamakh and Bendtner were out-muscled, out-played and frustrated by a typically robust and physical Newcastle defensive performance.
Lest we forget, Arsenal did hit the woodwork on three occasions, and perhaps on another day, they might have prevailed. After their poor mid-week performance, Arsenal were in need of a win today. Unfortunately, they failed to deliver, and in my opinion, the game will go down as an Arsenal loss rather than a Newcastle win. Will their stuttering form improve as the season progresses? The winning mentality at Arsenal has ebbed away somewhat over the last few seasons, and it might not be too long before Arsenal are playing in the Europa League. After a positive start to the season, Arsenal have been almost completely de-railed, and must avoid performances like this if they are to avoid a complete train wreck of a season.