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4 Thoughts From Arsenal’s 1-0 Win Over Newcastle

Arsenal held out for a crucial 1-0 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon. Here, Gunner333 gives us some facts and stats from the game.

Arsenal held out for a crucial 1-0 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon. Here, Gunner333 gives us some thoughts from the game.

Tomas Rosicky

In the Gunners’ final game of the calendar year, Newcastle were the opposing force looking to prevent Arsenal from snatching three points, which would put them top going into 2014. Every side top at New Year’s Eve in the past four seasons have gone on to win the title – a sentiment Wenger’s side would be keen to continue.

With Özil’s absence, Tomas Rosicky came in to fill the ‘number-ten’ role, whilst Laurent Koscielny returned from injury to replace Vermaelen; who was suffering from illness.

Both sides conducted a game of real physicality in a very tense atmosphere but it was the Gunners who were gaining a real foot-hold in possession during the early exchanges, without really testing Tim Krul.

With the first-half failing to provide many chances, both managers would have ultimately expected more pressing from their sides in the second half and Newcastle almost drew first blood as Gouffran was just inches from meeting Debuchy’s fine ball, with Sagna the saviour getting a low header on the ball-in to clear his lines.

Moments later and Arsenal struck from out of nowhere. Walcott took the set-piece from distance and found Giroud who was on hand to nod home the opener. The Frenchman converting his eighth of the Premier League campaign.

Despite some more pressure from Newcastle cultivating in Szczesny nearly gifting Remy an equalising goal, Arsenal held on to secure perhaps the most solid result of the season so far.

Here I will now analyse four stats/ facts from our victory:

1) Reliable Gibbs

Kieran Gibbs has really blossomed in the last year or so. He appears to have put his injury problems behind him and has now cemented himself as a first team regular in Arsene Wenger’s starting eleven.

He may not be the greatest going forward, but after a tricky start today he was able to shut down any trademark Debuchy run and shackle the Frenchman’s threat. If more focus is put on his crossing and final ball in training perhaps he could even be on the plane to Rio next year.

2) No Goal Rush!

In recent years some of our games with Newcastle have been goals galore, with two games in the past three seasons ending 4-4 and 7-3. In this game however, we showed strong a back-line to grind out a result when playing well below our usual standard – the hallmark of a Championship-winning side.

Our midfield is now far more influential in the defensive part of the game and is capable of breaking down attacks efficiently. The ever blossoming centre-half partnership between Koscielny and Mertesacker is also paying dividends to our one-goal victories and we are more aware of defending leads, meaning no-more four goal comebacks!

3) Adapting to Opposition Strengths 

More recent games have thrown up incredible statistics boasting vast improvements in the Gunners’ aerial ability (these include aerial dueling, long pass percentage, cross percentage, etc.) but today these statistics decreased, perhaps due to the physical opposition we were facing.

Of course against a side of this stature you should play aggressively but it never hurts to allow opposing sides to play ‘their’ football. We made just 11 crosses with 9% of our passes being long and had a far smaller victory percentage in aerial duels. We adapted our game to combat Newcastle’s strengths and came away with a vital three points.

4) Rosicky Can’t Replace Ozil

Our German magician looks set to be sidelined few our next couple of games with a shoulder injury. Arsene Wenger decided to deploy Tomas Rosicky in the ‘hole’ against Newcastle and while the Czech international worked hard, I feel he lacks the mobility to play in the role behind the striker.

He struggled to create any clear-cut chances today and was frequently closed down by the Magpies’ holding line which prevented him to link up with Giroud. More chances came from the flanks in this match, so perhaps we could stick Rosicky there and play Cazorla down the centre to increase our success in link-up play.

Thanks for reading, Happy New Year and feel free to comment below.

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