Arise Sir Theorry? Newcastle Report & Player Ratings

What a game!

For us spectators it was up, down, up, down, up down… then a long and satisfying climax.

Followed by 50,000 metaphorical cigarettes being smoked as we all came down from such a thrilling ride.

Do you remember that children’s rhyme about magpies? One for sorrow, two for joy etc? Well it goes on to say: “Seven for a secret never to be told.”

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As we put our seventh past The Magpies to finally overcome their dogged resistance, I fell to wondering what the “secret never to be told” might be.

Perhaps it’s the reason why Theo hasn’t signed a new contract? What Stan Kroenke really wants? Or maybe it’s as simple as: “Park Chu Young: Why?”

But enough of such contemplation: it’s time to celebrate a truly entertaining game of football – the sort of match that only the English Premier League seems to throw up.

Arsene made only one change to the team that had won its last two Premiership outings – Koscielny coming in for the unwell Mertesacker (“German measles” as someone wittily suggested in the comments yesterday).

It meant another outing for Theo Walcott down the middle – and another chance for him to try and convince the manager (and fans) that he is a central striker. His two previous showings had been inconclusive: he played well and scored one in the rout of Reading; against Wigan he was quieter but won the penalty that led to us pocketing all three points.

Apparently Thierry Henry – who is back training with us and may well be signed on a short term loan again – has been working with Theo to improve his general strikeriness. Can a god train a mortal in the arts of the divine? We would have to wait and see…

Newcastle were coming off the back of a brave and narrow midweek defeat at Old Trafford. They also had several first teamers out injured – but not the man with whom we are being strongly linked as a possible January transfer target: Demba Ba.

Arsenal were fast out of the blocks, applying pressure early on and threatening both Newcastle flanks. When we went ahead in the 20th minute it was no more than we deserved.

Podolski, who had an industrious game, split the Magpies’ defence with a pass that invited Walcott to run straight at goal. His pace kept him ahead of the defenders and once inside the area he opened up his body to side-foot the ball past Tim Krul’s laft hand and into the bottom corner of the net. It was a really fine finish – indeed, a finish reminiscent of Thierry, who was looking on from the stands. Theo down the middle? You bet!

Having taken the lead, we fell back into one of this season’s recurring bad habits: taking our foot off the gas: reducing our pressing game and ceding both territory and possession to the Geordies.

It was disappointing, but on the plus side we were not allowing Newcastle to create clear cut chances (although a long range effort from Tiote brought back uncomfortable memories of that awful day at St James Park when we were winning four-nil at half time but gave up four second half goals to a Toon attack spearheaded by Phil “Fatty” Dowd).

Eight minutes before the break we should have gone two up when Walcott, after a nice exchange with Podolski, found himself one-on-one against Krul again, this time much closer to the goal. Theo tried a chip but didn’t really catch hold of it and Krul saved. Theo down the middle? Don’t make me laugh!

As is often the way, our profligacy was soon punished. Just before the break Sagna gave away an unnecessary free kick outside our box. Ba stepped up to take it and fired in a shot that looked to be heading straight towards Szczesny for a routine save. Unfortunately Wilshere, as the spare man to the side of the wall, was in the ball’s path and couldn’t decide whether to duck or block. In the end he half ducked, the ball deflected off his head and went straight into the net.

Jack is a quick study and I doubt we will ever see him make that mistake again. Next time he’ll take the ball in the face if that’s what’s needed.

Half time – 1-1.

The second half saw us come out with greater attacking purpose, soon rewarded when Oxlade-Chamberlain fired in a low, hard shot to put us back in front.

But we all know that this Arsenal team can give up a goal to any attack at any time and, sure enough, only eight minutes later a bit of comic defending allowed Marveaux to tap in unchallenged at the far post after a low cross across the face of goal from Obertan, who had beaten Sagna far too easily.

On the television it was difficult to tell who was at fault for leaving a man completely unmarked at the back post.

Gibbs had been drawn into the middle of the box which seemed unnecessary when we had two centre backs in the six yard area, but maybe a midfielder should have spotted the danger and plugged the gap.

Could we get back in front? Well, in this seesaw game anything was clearly possible and we had a couple of decent half chances – Cazorla drawing a good save from Krul and Podolski just inches away from a through-ball into the box.

Our third eventually came from some brilliant work from Wilshere, who made it to the goal line inside the Toon area and chipped back a lethal cross into the six yard box from a really difficult angle. Coloccini had no option but to get his head on it right under the bar. The ball bounced off the crossbar and the predatory Podolski was on hand to head home.

This time, surely, we could hang on to our lead.

Not with this Arsenal!

Newcastle came back at us and, sure enough, we gave away another soft goal. Marveaux found space on our right flank and crossed a ball to the far post, where Ba was lurking – marked by Gibbs. Unfortunately our left back took his eye off the Newcastle striker to ball watch for a second and that was all Ba needed to break clear for an easy tap-in. Poor defending from Gibbs.

Three times ahead, three times clawed back. For an Arsenal team with a certain flakiness in its DNA this was a worrying trend.

But yesterday was not destined to have an unhappy ending.

Four minutes after Newcastle’s equalizer Walcott received the ball in the opposition penalty area after a great run and cutback by Gibbs. He had time to control the ball, turn and side foot it into the top left of the net. Another superb, composed Henryesque finish. Theo down the middle? He’s a natural born killer!

It would not have been entirely unexpected for Newcastle to haul themselves level again, but finally their exertions in Manchester seemed to catch up with them and Arsenal started to turn the screw.

Giroud was on for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey came on for Podolski. With Giroud’s appearance, Walcott was pushed out wide right and soon showed that he can be deadly from the wing too. An outstanding early cross invited a diving header from Giroud and the ball was powered through Krul’s legs to put us 5-3 up.

The two-goal deficit really made Toon heads drop and we pushed on for more. Giroud grabbed the sixth with a powerful low drive in the 88th minute. Then Walcott secured possession of the match ball with another stunning goal. Picking the ball up on the left wing he dribbled past two Toon defenders and into the box. He appeared to be fouled but picked himself up and finished with an audacious chip past Krul. Theo down the middle? Argument settled.

Walcott’s hat trick was, after all, just divine.

Giroud almost grabbed a hat trick of his own before the final whistle went to huge applause.

The scoreline flattered us to some degree but there were many pluses to take from this game: we seem to have rediscovered our verve in front of goal; we had enough mental strength to not get deflated by three times giving up the lead; and, strangely, we did not let Newcastle create much of danger – preferring, instead, to do the dirty work for them ourselves.

One very striking figure from the match statistics was that we had only 45% possession, Toon having 55%. This is very unusual for Arsenal but I wonder if it points to a deliberate tactic. If we are going to play with Theo Walcott as our front man our greatest weapon is his speed in attack. In that case it makes sense to concede ground to the opposition, let them come on to us and hit them on the break as Wenger’s early (successful) teams used to do.

All in all, a great game in which Newcastle very much played their part.

Player Ratings

Szczesny: had no chance with any of the goals and dealt well with the other Newcastle efforts (shots and crosses). A couple of times he put us under pressure by passing to defenders who were clearly marked. He needs to improve this aspect of his game. 7

Sagna: perhaps the uncertainty over his future is affecting his game. He seems a bit out of sorts and was given a torrid time by Obertan. Was partially responsible for all three Newcastle goals. 5

Koscielny: filled in very well for Mertesacker. A typical Kozzer showing, full of commitment and effort. 7

Vermaelen: also had a solid game – he seems to have got over his bad patch. However, as GiE pointed out in comments yesterday, what was he doing letting Gibbs get drawn into marking a big centre forward like Ba? 7

Gibbs: overall a good game with some good attacking play and an assist, but he was woefully at fault for Newcastle’s third and partly at fault for their second. Still seems like a youngster who is learning on the job at times. 6

Arteta: like the rest of our midfield he got the runaround when we slackened off after taking the lead in the first half, but otherwise his game was as effective as we have come to expect. Much of his work is unspectacular and (I suspect) unnoticed by some fans. 7

Wilshere: fine game by the captain-in-waiting. He drives us forward every time he gets the ball and his run and chip for the Podolski goal were outstanding (LB said the chip reminded him of Brady, which is high praise indeed). He loses half a point for giving away Newcastle’s first goal by trying to dodge the ball. 7.5

Cazorla: always a joy to wacth, Santi made one and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet himself. He was a thorn in the Newcastle side all the time he was on the pitch. 8

Podolski: a really good game from the German, full of industry, commitment and strength. His goal showed a great poacher’s instinct and he made Theo’s first. 8

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Oxo is getting slowly better with each game. He took his goal very well and was heavily involved until subbed off for Giroud. His passing is occasionally a bit loose, but he will put that right in due course. 7

Walcott: couldn’t really have done anything more to prove his case for a central striker’s berth. Great hat trick, of which the highest compliment I can pay is that Thierry Henry would have been pleased with any of those goals. I have always rated Theo’s finishing and what I liked most about his goals was the composure he showed in putting the ball in exactly the spot where it could not be saved. His third also gave the lie to the criticism that he can’t dribble. Yes, he made some mistakes too, but all strikers do. What’s clear is that Theo is becoming a huge asset – someone who can be deadly as a main striker, or as a wide man. It would be a crying shame if we lose him just as he’s is reaching the fulfillment of his potential. 9 MoTM

Substitutes

Giroud: I love this player. His cameo was almost perfect (and would have been if he had converted the chance to get a hat trick). 8.5

Ramsey: another good, tidy appearance from Aaron. 7

Coquelin: also tidy, although one unforced loose pass almost put us in trouble. 6.5

RockyLives

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88 Responses to Arise Sir Theorry? Newcastle Report & Player Ratings

  1. Bee Man says:

    A real heart attack performance by the Arsenal! Thrilling but please let in less goals next time. My heart can’t take another one like this next week. Amazing game.

  2. Bee Man says:

    Great match report, by the way. Nicely done.

  3. Aussie Gooner Dave says:

    Don’t agree with your ratings for our mids. I thought Jack was far and away our best mid, where I thought Santi was OK but not great

  4. kgooner says:

    A well awaited post match report. Thanks for volunteering to put up one Rocky.

    The game had me up and down and bursting with mixed emotions. It’s great to see the team able to find the back of the net in such spectacular fashion. Giroud is unbelievable, I expect a lot of headed goals from him this season. He seems to have a knack for getting on the end of crosses with his.

    Sagna needs to step up. Jenks would have done much better yesterday than what Sagna offered.

    I would say so much, but much has and will be said. I’ll reside to basking in this win till Tuesday. Win or lose, the gunners always make the news!! Looking forward to the rest of the days’ comments.

  5. Gooner In Exile says:

    Thanks for the report Rocky, despite the positive result yesterday we still have much to improve on and if the squad can work together to address some of the defensive issues there is a case for stating that they could do something special if they can be kept together.

    Podolski seems to have discovered his PL second wind and was full of running and industry yesterday, Jack is taking the weight off Santis shoulders as he, Arteta and Santi continue to develop an understanding.

    The only concerns were in defence, my worry with Sagna is the years of running that right flank are taking their toll. Could do with a couple of rests.

    But my biggest concern remains TV. He for me is still a bit too passive for a centre half. Was allowing Ba to bully him from high balls, and for me he seems to be one of the players who likes to pass on responsibility rather than take it. I still believe our best CB pair is BFG and Kos, I think they are both better distributors than TV and I think their styles compliment each other in a pair, Kos to attack the ball, and has deceptive pace. While BFG can organise and read the game better than anyone else in the team.

    Theo, the goals were brilliant yesterday, and you are right to highlight the possession stats which indeed suited the style of play we must use with Theo, but Giroud also has a part to play, as soon as he came on we started holding possession from long balls, and winning a few flick ons, with the likes of Santi, Ox and Jack close by to get it down and play from a more advanced position, which makes getting forward a lot easier and a lot less tiring than passing through the midfield barriers.

  6. chas says:

    Brilliant, Rocky.

    “Can a god train a mortal in the arts of the divine?”
    Superb.

  7. big ernie says:

    Good report and agree with most of the ratings. Gibbs needs to think about his defending more than his attacking (Bouldy needs to have a strong word). For me, even though Jack could have done better for their first goal, it was his driving forward, getting stuck in and winning the ball that drove the team forward. For that reason I would give him MOTM not Theo, he had a good game and took his goals really well, but I don’t think we would have won if it hadn’t been for Jack …… I would make him Captain now, he’s shown the commitment to the club and has Arsenal in his heart and soul …….

  8. goonermichael says:

    Great report Rocky

  9. Red Arse says:

    Take a bow, Rocky Mountain, you drew me in with a salacious, if not deliciously lascivious, Shade of Gray opening paragraph, which whetted my appetite, before morphing seamlessly into an entertaining and accurate recounting of the evening’s events which culminated in a spectacular and unexpected thrashing of Newcastle United by our lads!!

    Loved it – love you (as an author – obviously!) :D

    The player ratings you posted were accurate, but perhaps with just one or two amendments needed, in my opinion.

    I thought Jack, with the exception of turning his back at the free kick which conceded a deflected goal, had his best and most authoritative game since his return from injury, and I might have been tempted to give him a ‘9’.

    The Ox was magnificent throughout, and I think his goal, just after the start of the second half was just what we needed to settle the ship, and his skillful dribbling and pacey forward thrusts – ooer, Mrs – really frightened the Magpies defence, and I would have given him a ‘9’ too.

    Carried away with the euphoria following the game? I do not think so – just how I (subjectively) saw it! :-)

    Oh, Rocky, Rocky, …………………. :P

  10. Rasp says:

    Terrific match report Rocky, 55% posession to Toon and we won 7:3 …. what does this mean? Is it a good thing? is it part of a plan?

    Who knows. All I know is that the midfield and attack is beginning to click but there is still a lot of work to do on our defending.

    It was a wonderful game and a fantastic result that highlights the part that attitude plays in performance.

    We have 2 players who may be looking to leave, one is 23 and playing in a way that will alert top clubs from around the world and the other is 29 and doesn’t look interested any more.

    Poor old Sagna, he was skinned regularly again yesterday by an average player and gave away a quite unnecessary free kick leading to their first goal. I’m disappointed with him in the same way I was disappointed with some of Cesc’s performances in his last season – he’s better than that.

  11. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rasp I guess why RvP and Theo (if he leaves) will be looked on more fondly is that they didnt stop trying when personal discussions were at a low point.

    My guess is Flamini could be put into this category as can Gilberto.

    It could be Sagna is suffering from missed football last season, rather than any discontent, it comes downto professional pride.

    Unfortunately it also makes their departures hurt more than Adebayor, Nasri and Cesc.

  12. Red Arse says:

    GIE,

    If I had not seen Sagna play very well for us, in previous seasons, and just judged him on this season’s performances to date, I would conclude he is a very slow, very ordinary player.

    If I was Corp Jenks I would be miffed by being overlooked for Sagna.

    Gibbs is a strange player too. He can be full of running, very supportive in attack, but on more than one occasion he has allowed goals to be scored by players he should have marked.

    It’s not just the occasional lapse – all players have those – but he does not seem to be learning from the repetitive mistakes he is making by being drawn into central defence and crowding the CBs, and therefore allowing opposition players to score down their right flank.

    Maybe that is why we are being linked with Baines, again?

  13. Rasp says:

    Hi RA, I think hell will freeze over before we spend £15m on a LB (Baines) the papers/net are full of all sorts of rubbish at the moment.

    I could cut and paste my comments from last January to cover this January as follows: we won’t sign any high profile first team ready players in January although a promising youngster or a an unheard of player from abroad is a posibility.

  14. mario says:

    Gibbs is hopeless.Both Newcastles goals came from his failure to mark the player on the far side.I dont think he’ll ever learn.Arsenal do not have the quality in defence.They got lucky because Newcastle were tired.

  15. VCC says:

    Great match report Rocky. Only score I would change is Gibbs. If Sagna was awarded 5, then Gibbs would be on par with that score imo.

    Red Arse. I concur, we need to replace Gibbs. He is a liability defender. Two glaring mistakes yesterday.

  16. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    Hi
    There is talk about Nani in the press today,again where would he fit in.
    Nice match report Rocky,I missed second half but I have taped Snatch of the day last night so I will watch it later.

  17. Gooner In Exile says:

    RA, Mario and VCC I believe you have to look at the reason Gibbs is not marking the far post, my theory is TV is asking him to drop inside, unfortunately Cole is probably the best left back in the country and the only time I remember him being in the position Gibbs was yesterday is due to his centre backs being taken out of the game. Otherwise Cole deals with the wide attacking threat and leaves crntre forwards to his centre backs, simy not rocket science. So the question that needs asking is why is Gibbs being asked to track into the goal mouth? Why is TV not dealing with Ba at the far post?

    I’ve been thinking about this propensity to leave their positions of both our full backs when defending, and I think back to Dixon, Winterburn, Cole, Lauren and try to imagine their position on the pitch, for me it was stopping crosses and marking wide men, why on earth are the current incumbents being asked to drop in and help with centre backs.

  18. Gooner In Exile says:

    Sheep just put Nani rumours down to the fact that he has 18 months to go on his existing contract….agents are driving the price up.

    He is 26 will be 27 when his contract is up, one last payday needed?

  19. LB says:

    Hi GIE

    A couple of superb comments this morning on the tail end of yesterday’s post about Theo’s wages…..top drawer explanation.

  20. LB says:

    Rockylicious

    My guess is that you really enjoyed writing that post. Why? Becasue it shows.

    I agree with pretty much all, I am glad you noticed Podolski’s performance, I thought he was MOTM before Theo got his third.

    Bit confused how Sagna got a lower mark than Gibbs though.

    But hey ho, great match report.

  21. LB says:

    This is a message to all those Arsenal season ticket holders who couldn’t be bothered to make the game yesterday because it was raining and a bit cold; you are probably feeling slightly regretful today that you missed such a thriller, well to you I say this:

    IT — SERVES — YOU — RIGHT

  22. VCC says:

    GiE…maybe zonal doesn’t suit Gibbs. We havn’t played zonal yearly and he has been a weak link annually.

    But the facts are there to see. Watch his reaction to the third goal. He was in a position to attack the ball, but chose to bottle it. That has nothing to do with zonal/man marking. That is poor defending, and imo he is a poor defender and has been all his Arsenal career.

    I believe he started out as a wide midfielder/attacker and Wenger pushed him into playing full back.

    Also, he doesn’t learn with his mistakes, which are plenty.

    The only reason people think I pick on him is because I have been watching/observing his play for seasons (my Son plays in this position and I point out his frailties.)

    Although he is good going forward his main function should be to defend, and that he clearly cannot do properly.

  23. JM says:

    Observations 1:

    On our defenders, centre backs and full backs – covering/marking.

    Quote from Martin Keown (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/columnists/columnist-1047409/Martin-Keown.html):

    [The Boot Room: Space men fall for old one-two... why defenders MUST rethink how to stop crosses]

    “With most teams playing one man up front these days, central defenders are used to a system where one of them picks up the striker and the other waits for the runner from deep.

    It works well but as soon as the ball is moved out wide, defenders seem to be obsessed with moving into space rather than marking players.

    Imagine the ball is out on the left wing with one of the league’s best crossers — Gareth Bale or Leighton Baines, for example. What you now often see is the second centre half marking the lone striker and the first centre half dropping into space in line with the six-yard box but just in front of the near post. That defender isn’t marking anyone, he’s just marking air, hoping that the ball comes to him to clear.

    You hear pundits all the time saying, ‘Oh, he’s taken up a great position there’, as the ball is cleared but there are plenty of other times when a second attacking player arrives late into space unmarked and is free to score.

    Michu of Swansea is particularly good at it, intelligently finding space to knock the ball home unopposed. He uses the defenders like mannequins in a training session. The other possible outcome is that the second central defender finds himself trying to mark two men.

    This concept of not marking a man goes against everything I was taught. My youth-team coach Terry Burton told us to get ‘touch tight’, or get within a yard of our opponent in case he gets the ball.

    That way he has little time to do any damage and if the ball is put into the space instead, you can back yourself to get there first and clear the danger.

    Standing where so many of these central defenders do now also goes against what my coach Steve Harrison taught me at Aston Villa. If the forward can see the number on your shirt — that is, he is behind you — then you can’t see him. That means you don’t know where he’s moving and you stand a poor chance of stopping him.

    That’s what I am seeing now — too many defenders watching the ball and not their man when the ball comes into that corridor of uncertainty between the six-yard box and the penalty spot. A defender would be better off tucking in, in line with the frame of the goal so he is not so far away from the danger. Only if a winger beats the full back and goes towards him should he then move to close him down.”

    Observations 2:

    Michu x 2 goals(13 goals), Demba Ba x 2 goals(13 goals), RvP x 1 goal(14 goals), Gareth Bale x 1 goal(9 goals), Marouane Fellaini x 1 goal(8 goals).

    Some of the goals scored against us by the leading scorers in the league at this stage of the season.

    At the same time in Dec 2013, both Cazorla (7 goals) & Walcott (8 goals) bagged hat-tricks in the league against Reading and Newcastle respectively.

    Observations 3:

    We ended Dec 2012 on a better note with 4 consecutive league wins, scoring 15 goals and conceding 5 goals.

    Jan 2013 would provide some stiff tests to our team: after Southampton(away) in the league. We get Swansea(away) in FA Cup, Manchester City(home), Chelsea(away) and Liverpool(home). And also a FA Cup(4th round) tie should we advance.

    A defining month ahead. Can Walcott (in his main striker role) continue his scoring runs against those teams in the coming month? Will our team collect a further 4 consecutive wins in the league (to make it 8 in a roll) and advance further in the FA Cup?

  24. JM says:

    Edit on my previous post, “At the same time in Dec 2012, both Cazorla (7 goals) & Walcott (8 goals) bagged hat-tricks in the league against Reading and Newcastle respectively.”

  25. Red Arse says:

    GIE, (bit late in responding) but Gary Neville commented a while ago on another player who like Gibbs was caught out in a similar situation.

    He pointed out that the defender turned his back on the winger, and by the time he glanced back again later, the winger had gone by him.

    If you watch a replay you will see this is exactly what Gibbs did.
    Glance – saw BA – then faced away towards where the ball was – ball crossed, and Gibbs glances over his shoulder again – BA has already gone past him, and Gibbs cannot catch him – BA scores.

    Nevilles solution? The defender should keep his body square to the field, i.e facing the opponents half, and not turn to exclusively face the winger with the ball, therefore he can ‘see’ both the ball player and the opposition (right) wing attacker out of the corner of his eye.

    Sounds logical – sounds simple. Why does Gibbs not do so?

    We have discussed this before – but what can you do???

  26. Josh says:

    We need a target man upfront. Not until OG12 came on did we seal the points. Theo can’t head. Experiment in pre season!

  27. Prince-Purrfect-Poldi says:

    Hi Rocky, thanks for the match report and a great read.

    My man of the match goes to Alan Pardew. Just after the barcodes had equalised with their third, it was Pardew who turned to his players and roared “NO MORE GOALS”.

    Thanks a bundle Mr Pardew, i would personally give you another 8 years on that contract. :lol:

    Rocky, One is for sorrow, two is for joy. What the hell do you get with 3, 4, 5, and 6 magpies ?

  28. VCC says:

    Red Arse 2:31……Gibbs has done this on more than one occasion. It’s a habit he has formed. It’s a strange thing to do, turn your back on the ball/player.

    As you say, highlighted by G.Neville.

  29. LB says:

    Does anyone know the real reason why Mertasacker didn’t play?

  30. Red Arse says:

    Prince, it is a nursery rhyme regarding the sightings of magpies, which in superstitious times were considered evil;

    One for sorrow,
    Two for joy,
    Three for a girl,
    Four for a boy,
    Five for silver,
    Six for gold,
    Seven for a secret,
    Never to be told

    In parts of the US it is slightly different;

    One for sorrow,
    Two for luck
    Three for a wedding,
    Four for death
    Five for silver,
    Six for gold;
    Seven for a secret,
    Never to be told;
    Eight for heaven,
    Nine for Hell
    And ten for the devil’s own sel’

    You had to keep your fingers crossed, and not swallow when you saw them!

    I think in Oz it is for kangaroos — or English tourists!! :-)

  31. LB – Per just didn’t fancy it I heard ;)

    We need a post for tomorrow as Rocky wrote this magnificent match report, who wants to write something to close the year ……?

  32. RockyLives says:

    Hello All and thanks for some great comments.

    Interesting debate about Gibbs. I think he has it in him to be a good LB, but he really needs some coaching on some of the basics (like the Gary Neville stuff mentioned earlier). You would like to think Bould would be working on that with him.

    I see the Chavs won again. They are starting to pull away from us a bit so we need to keep the winning run going. It could be quite a scrap for fourth with us, the Spuds and Everton all playing well at the moment.

  33. RockyLives says:

    VCC
    I marked Gibbs higher than Sagna because of his goal assist.

  34. GunnerN5 says:

    Yesterday was the highest scoring home game in our PL history.
    It was the 4th time we’ve scored 7 in home game —

    2004/5 = 7- 0 vs Everton
    2005/6 = 7- 0 vs Middlesbrough
    2011/12 = 7-1 vs Blackburn
    2012/13 = 7-3 vs Newcastle

    Somewhere in my erased memory banks I recollect another game where 10 goals were scored, or was that simply a nightmare?

  35. VCC says:

    Rocky….fair enough. :-)

  36. Gooner In Exile says:

    LB he was ill, hopefully not very ill.

    RA you are of course right, goal side, ball side, see the man and the ball.

    And I see his defensive frailties just like I used to see his consistent turn inside when in possession as a problem. He has eradicated the latter, hopefully he can eradicate the former.

    And I’ll go back to that tackle against West Brom last season, a defenders tackle if ever I saw one.

  37. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    We got a tough January coming up
    We got to play Chelski,Man Shity,liverpoo,and Swansea in the fa cup.
    The game against the saints is on sky and its another 5.30 kick off on NYD.
    Happy January
    👍⚽

  38. weedonald says:

    Rocky, good analysis but unless you’ve been hit in the face by afree kick from a monster like Ba, it is unfair to say that Wilshere needed to take one for the team….he ducked, as would any sane person.

  39. RockyLives says:

    weedon
    I’ve taken a few full in the face in my time.
    It’s not nice, but it’s like a goalie diving in at the feet of an onrushing attacker – sometimes you just have to take one for the team.

    Or to put it another way, I don’t think you would ever have seen the likes of Winterburn or Dixon ducking out of the way of a shot like that.

  40. ST says:

    “45% possession” for the Arsenal could be deliberate, it might help Theo’s game as Arsenal are probably playing deeper and playing more direct and so the spaces are available after drawing out the Newcastle defence.

  41. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    We will have to perform better against city and pool and chavz in the new year.
    Any one coming to Swansea for the fa cup game.
    I can do good rates if u want B&B in my house.
    Ps u can 🚬 iin my house.

  42. RockyLives says:

    Bloody hell!

    I’ve just been looking round some of the national newspaper coverage of yesterday’s games and it’s unbelievable how they are treating Monkeyman’s latest booking for diving.

    They’re all talking about him being persecuted (the Daily Mail even suggesting he is being driven out of the English game like Cristiano Ronaldo!).

    Just imagine if Bale wore a red shirt with white sleeves. By now every paper in Britain would have him as their number one hate figure.

    Cazorla was crucified for “diving” when he was quite clearly fouled in the box recently.

    Before that we had the Eduardo persecution.

    Bale on the other hand has been booked several times already this year for diving… but the press feel sorry for him.

    Maybe we need a new PR supremo at THOF. Our very own Malcolm Tucker to duff up these biased, idiotic journos.

  43. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    Rocky
    Being welsh I watch Wales play and Bale dives for Wales as well.
    He also been booked a few times playing for Cymru (Wales).
    Don’t like that side of him but when he plays well for Wales he’s worth the entry fee.
    Much love
    Sheep

  44. RockyLives says:

    Peaches
    I’ve popped one in drafts.
    It’s about the Bale diving issue, so might I respectfully ask fellow bloggers to keep their powder dry on this subject until tomorrow?

    (I know, it’s a bit cheeky given that I’ve just raised it in comments… :) )

  45. jnyc says:

    My observations: theos composure in finishing is nothing new. It has nothing to do with henry being back for one practice(maybe from this in past years with henry) i suspect its just alot of hard work. ———-
    Jack was fantastic all over the pitch. Our next captain, but there is no rush for the title, he is already a leader.———
    i love that girouds second came from his right foot. Good sign from him, it looked weak early in the season, almost like he tried to avoid it. Maybe he has worked on it, as we hoped. ——-
    i was disappointed that kozzer let that cross
    through for a goal. but Its tough for a player like him to
    avoid being rusty. Arsene must ROTATE more. The way
    jack ran yesterday, and always does, we had better
    keep an eye on him in for rest also. —-
    Gibbs mistakes can be worked on in training a bit. He has the tools, its far from being as dire as some make it sound. —
    back to Theo. There is a chance that losing him can turn out to be our second biggest loss ever after Cesc. Because of these factors : his age perfect, just coming into his talent after forming all his skills for years with us. But in some ways much worse than the Cesc thing, because that was unavoidable. And also we recieved substantial money for cesc, theo would be for next to nothing. All of this, plus IF( a big IF) Walcott turns out to be great for some other club, we may look like the biggest fools in history, especially over a petty amount of money. Yes, i admitted to changing my mind about him, but mostly because a year or two ago, we could have received a pretty good amount. Now, for nothing, we would be idiots to let him go. Sign him, if its neccessary we can move him for money some day later.

  46. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    What kind of money is th€o on at the moment at arsenal a week .
    I’d guess he on about £50-60k a week we may have to improve on that and u know Mr Wenger doesn’t like paying big wages,he as tight as a pig at a mart.

  47. Red Arse says:

    Hi JNYC, :-)

    Good common sense stuff there, my man!!

    Agree with all that.

    One of the disadvantages of writing a communication, as opposed to a verbal exchange, is that it is difficult, unless you are Rocky, to impart the intended depth of feeling in a comment, or, perhaps, the whimsical, throw away nature of an errant or spontaneous thought, or even the gentle tone of a deliberately provocative message intended to be humorous.

    I think that explains, to a certain extent, the cause of some comments being misunderstood because they can be taken to mean different things by the various readers.

    I think Gibbs was at fault for a goal or two last night, but put in context he had a strong game otherwise, and he has it in him to improve, especially if someone, (Bouldy?) points out how he should have defended against a particular attack and he chooses to learn from that advice.

  48. RockyLives says:

    Are the widgets up to date?

  49. Red Arse says:

    Actually, Rocky, (and I am not being deliberately provocative) :-) I do have a sneaking sympathy for old Bale of Hay for being booked for simulation, yesterday.

    His knee was clearly jabbed by the desperate defender as he was galloping past him.

    His ‘mistake’ was twofold.

    Firstly, I could not be sure whether or not he needed to fall – frankly who could – and does that matter within the rules?

    Secondly, he has developed a rather thespian mien when appealing to the referee for a foul, while rather dramatically holding his ‘damaged’ limb.

    The end result is that we are all either shouting or thinking “get up you Jesse”, because he seems to be acting in an unmanly manner — and he plays for the Spuds!! :-)

  50. Red Arse says:

    Rocky, you have an innate ability to cut to the chase, and winkle out the important things on a blogsite – “Are the widgets up to date?” being an apposite example!

    I blame Canada — well what else can you do? :-)

  51. RockyLives says:

    Redders
    You are completely wrong:
    It’s not a “damaged limb.” It’s a “damaged PAW.” :)

    And beyond that I shall not debate with you on this subject (until tomorrow :) )

  52. Red Arse says:

    (Gulp), just noticed your literary embargo on that devious diving diva!! :-)

    Any conclusions you may jump to in implying I don’t read your ex-Fleet Street musings ………………… are entirely well founded!! :D

  53. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    Bale in the welsh spring board diving team for Rio 2016 .
    He will beat Tom Daley

  54. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    Can I do a post on the day of the swansea game being a local welsh lad who’s a Gunner.
    Odd eh
    👀

  55. Gooner In Exile says:

    Rocky, Dermot Gallagher was just on TalkShite with Collymore, I only flicked on to hear scores today (honest).

    Anyway Collymore was criticising Bale for going down under marginal contact, and also because of Bale’s post match where he says “there was contact, it was a foul” and arguing that contact does not equal foul, which weak know is correct.

    So Gallagher comes on to define diving as the referees have been guided and split it in to three classes of dive:

    No contact
    The attacker initiates the contact
    The attacker exaggerates minimal contact

    So in Gallaghers view the booking was correct in the letter of the law on the last class of dive. He went on further and stated that a referee had been to see AVBand Bale at training to clarify the diving law so said he should not be unaware of the position and why he was booked.

    The only question that remains is why referees don’t get number two classes right.

  56. Gooner In Exile says:

    I apologise for posting that comment after you asked us not to debate it, I have two excuses I posted the response ages ago and just noticed WP asking me for my password to post it, and second I might be unavailable tomorrow.

    The second is unlikely as the bun is far too comfortable in its oven.

    I have told Mrs Exile to give it the cold shoulder treatment.

  57. Red Arse says:

    Deliberate sabotage, GIE. You know the Rock will repay you in kind!! :-)

  58. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    Chill out lads I played tiger woods once online and some one called me sheep $hagger.
    I said cheers pal ill use that name
    The English people will know what I’m on about
    🆒

  59. The swingometer is not up to date have oinly just sent update after todays results

    As for goals scored again i’d say no as Ox is not on there

  60. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    Good player the ox I’m so old I remember his dad .
    Ian wright lol

  61. neamman says:

    Perhaps Sagna hasnt recovered physically

  62. Rasp says:

    Hi Rocky, all the widgets are up to date now – thanks for the post :P

    To everyone else ….. how about a post reviewing the year for NYD please

  63. Gooner In Exile says:

    Hope its only that Neamman, I’m all for him getting a rest if that’s the case….Southampton away would ordinarily be an ideal place to rest players but I think a few might get rested for the FA Cup instead/as well.

    Actually Southampton away is tricky in terms of resting players

    I’d like to go something like

    ……………..Szczesny……………..
    Jenks….BFG……..Kos…..Gibbs
    …………………Rambo…………………
    ………Santi…………..Jack………..
    .Theo………….Giroud……..Pod

    And then swap Sagna for Jenks, Gibbs out for Santos, Arteta for Santi, Pod for Swerve, Ox for Theo for Swansea game.

    We need to keep the best XI fresh but cannot slip up at the moment in the League, time for Wenger to earn his corn.

    Has anyone seen Banfield on the bench on match days?

  64. Rasp says:

    Regarding the widgets; if we win our next game we are back level on points with the same stage last year.

    If you add the goals scored to the assists for the players you get these totals:

    Theo 24
    Podolski 16
    Giroud 16
    Cazorla 15

    We are on track to score more goals in every competition this season with the 4 attacking players all making significant contributions

  65. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Rasp
    Sorry for nagging :)

    It will be great to be back level with thus time last year – especially as we embarked on a run of four straight defeats last Jan, so we should be able to do better than that this year.

  66. RockyLives says:

    Sheep
    I can’t speak for Rasp and Peaches, but they might welcome you doing the match report for the Swansea game…

    And you’ll get your interesting name in our authors list :)

  67. Rasp says:

    No worries Rocky, I had got a bit behind and having played a game less than most other teams distorts some of the figures.

    I agree, we should finish this season on more points than last – unless we suffer another late season collapse … which I really think is unlikely with this crop of players.

    Touch wood, we have been reasonably lucky with injuries so far compared to recent years.

    I wonder if Theo realises what a huge boost it would be to the team and the supporters if he signed in January. In a bizarre way, it would send out a positive message if we paid him £100k a week, we might finally shrug off the reputation of being cheapskates.

  68. Rasp says:

    Absolutely Rocky – Sheepy, we’d love to have an all Welsh flavour to the Swansea match report.

  69. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    Ok give me a few days notice .on swans post

  70. Sheep Hagger ™ says:

    Ill do a pre game report

  71. goonermichael says:
  72. Gooner In Exile says:

    GM if its really about £10k a week I really can’t see why we are stalling.

  73. Gooner In Exile says:

    A win away at Saints and we are -7 on the Swing but then comes two must wins to stay in contention with the pack and at -7 City home and Chavs away……is it possible?

    If not we will be at worse -13 or at best -11 against last seasons like for like games.

    We will then have to go like for like in the remaining games plus beat Norwich, Wigan, Wolves and Liverpool at home, QPR, Fulham and Spuds away. That would give is 20 points back against the swing and losing against Chavs and City won’t be an issue. It’s a huge ask though so 3 points against Siuthampton is a must and at least 3 points from City and Chelsea games will see me breathe a little easier.

  74. Bradster says:

    One sticking point is that Sagna and Ox did not play well together. Sagna didn’t overlap as well as he does with Walcott and Ox really needs to work on his defensive side of at least tracking back.
    Santi only came into the game in the second half. We constantly lost the midfield battle and made Tiote look better than he really is.
    Cazorla plays too deep for a number 10 and is not in and around the box enough. Needs to play more like he did against Reading.
    Wilshere took up his role but then left space in the middle where he should’ve been. Santi is either too soft or unwilling to get stuck in.
    We will always lose the midfield battle if Santi is scared or bullied by the DM, it makes Jack work harder and puts him out of position and Arteta cannot cover the entire mid himself.

  75. RockyLives says:

    Some good points Bradster – although (as I mentioned in the Post) – I wonder if we deliberately conceded ground in MF to invite them on to us so we could hit them with fast breaks…

    It’s unlikely, but you never know.

  76. Rasp says:

    Morning all, the situation with Walcott is becoming more about Arsenal’s ‘ambition’. I cannot believe we are creating an impasse over an extra £10-15k a week, if we are the slogan should be ‘pay da money, not ‘sign da ting’.

    I would join any demonstration outside the Emirates if the club made it known that we wouldn’t go to £100k a week to keep Theo – that would just be bad business. The club that likes to think it is financially prudent but in reality we have made many mistakes in our contract dealings.

  77. Gooner In Exile says:

    Do we think Foy was going to give the penalty?

  78. Gooner In Exile says:

    I think the problem Rasp is that Wenger has achieved the boards aims on their limited budgets. Gazidis likes to say “we kept some powder dry” which is understandable when you have limited resources, but surely with the increased sponsorship deal, the increased TV money we have enough powder for a measly* £10k a week, although in affect it is more than a £10k pay rise.

    Lets assume reports in media are and have been true we offered £75k a week, he is on £50k a week currently, and he demanded £100k a week. That’s a £2.5m pay rise, not a £500k one. We offered a £1.25m pay rise already. Now we can get him for a £1.75m pay rise.

    To avoid similar situations we need to sign Szczesny within the next year, TV5 within 2…..plus the likes of Eisfield.

    * measly being a relative term clearly.

  79. Rasp says:

    Hi GiE, I agree in principle. I feel we are actually on the verge of having a really exciting team that could compete at the very top …. based on the abilityand attitude of the young players …. Jack, The Ox, Theo, Sz, Gibbs, Jenks etc and Theo is a part of that nucleus.

    I actually think Wenger has looked a bit pathetic by playing Theo centrally at this late stage, WTF did he play Gerv there so many times when Theo is a much better finisher? I think Gerv is only ever going to be good enough to be a sub if we have our best players available.

    I don’t think we need another striker having seen what Theo and Giroud can do, we have goals in us up front and from the midfield. I do think we have a problem with the defence and maybe another centrehalf and a DM would be a good idea – and a replacement for Sagna. It was a mistake to make TV captain but as many have said, hopefully Jack will be the next Arsenal (and England?) captain.

  80. Big Raddy says:

    BR back in the house for a few days.

    Hope everyone had a fine Yule and are replete following the Newcastle feast.

    I watched the match yesterday on ArsenalPlayer. Was a strange game.

    Will comment further in the new post

  81. Rasp says:

    GiE, if Theo is not worth £100k a week to a club like Arsenal (= the one that developed and nurtured his talent and is only just beginning to reap the rewards of that investment), then we really are just about finance. It doesn’t matter how much of a pay rise a new deal represents, its about what he’s worth to the football club now.

    It doesn’t make financial or footballing sense to undervalue our assets.

  82. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. With Gerv and Chamkh (lol) going to the AFC we are very thin should injuries occur. A loan signing must be on the agenda.

    Rummaging around in the net rumours abound, the most prevalent being that AW will be busy. My hope is that he is busy unloading some of the squad. Santos, AA, Chamakh, etc

    A LB deputy would be good but which quality player will be 2nd fiddle to Gibbs?

    & I would like an experienced back up GK.

  83. Rasp says:

    Welcome back Raddy. I agree injuries could destroy the emerging balance that we’ve finally stumbled upon. The Ox is beginning to look at home on the wide right and Pod looks to have found a way to be more effective from the left. I’m glad Gerv and Chamakh are away (actually Chamakh hasn’t made the Morrocan squad) Ramsey has had 2 good games coming on to add life to the midfield and Coquelin and Eisfeld are approaching first team level so I agree it is the defence that needs looking at.

  84. Gooner In Exile says:

    I don’t disagree Rasp if we are talking the sums reported, we have over last few seasons lost some higher earners, so there should be scope to increase his wages.

    A post using Alex Forty Nines wage summary (however inaccurate) plus transfermarkt’s ages and contract expiries plus desire to add some new players, would be interesting about now. I’ll try and rustle something up if I get time.

  85. Rasp says:

    Thanks GiE, maybe we are misunderstanding one another … are you saying we should be able to afford higher wages? because if you are, we are in agreement.

  86. Rasp says:

    Onto a new topic, thanks to Rocky …….

    …. New post …..

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