Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1: Three talking points
Three talking points as Arsenal edge to a 1-0 victory over Newcastle United at St James' Park on Saturday
Pre-season optimism turns in realism
Arsenal fans across the country firmly believed that the summer acquisition of Petr Cech would give their side an edge into the coming season. Critics and pundits agreed that Arsenal would carry more of a threat. A victory, Arsene Wenger’s first over Jose Mourinho, in the Community Shield added further fuel to the fire that a title challenge was on the card and it could end the wait for another Premier League title. But then the wheels fell off against West Ham – a wave of optimism hits the sea wall and dissipates. Sure Arsenal are now unbeaten in three matches and have not conceded in two but there is an air, not too unfamiliar to the Gunners faithful, that this again will not be their year. A drab performance against Newcastle, the majority of which was spent against 10 men, does little to dispel this idea. After Aleksander Mitrovic was dismissed in the 16th minute, Arsenal could have put the Magpies to the sword in their usual buccaneering style. But this didn’t happen and an own goal from Fabricio Coloccini will not breed confidence that this side can go onto lift their first title since 2003-04.
Newcastle show their new found ability to fight
Under John Carver, Newcastle looked like a shell of their former selves – the great entertainers of Kevin Keegan’s nearly men, Sir Bobby Robson’s solid outfit which qualified for the Champions League, to even Alan Pardew’s effective unit which finished a remarkable fifth. Last season though, capitulation was the buzz word on the Tyne. Players looked disinterested in pulling on the famous black and white, almost fearful of upset the bevy of fervent Geordie support. Steve McClaren is Mike Ashley’s preferred choice of head coach. He has given him a sizeable cheque book to bring in players such as Mitrovic, Georginio Wijnaldum and Florian Thauvin. Despite a slow start results-wise to the 2015-16 season, it appears that McClaren and his team have found and instilled the idea that the players should be proud to represent Newcastle United. Despite losing by an own-goal, there were many positives in the Newcastle performance.
Arsenal lack depth throughout the squad
It appears odd that given the financial clout that Arsenal possess, Cech is the only big name player to come into Arsenal this summer so far. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are Arsene Wenger’s preferred centre-half pairing, but, as what happened on Monday against Liverpool, can he rely on Calum Chambers and Gabriel to be as solid as his first-choice duo? Moving up through the team, Francis Coquelin – the one-time loan player high-profile sides such as Lorient, Nurnberg and Charlton Athletic – lacks the passing ability and drive as seen once upon a time by Patrick Vieira. Finally – the forward conundrum. Theo Walcott, Oliver Giroud and an injured Danny Welbeck are the options at Wenger’s disposal. Of the two available players, neither Walcott nor Giroud look on red-hot form this season so far. One goal from four matches tells its own story. If Arsenal want to make a statement of intent that they mean business in the Premier League this season, they need to mirror this in the transfer market, before it is too late and the window closes until January. A top centre forward and potentially another centre midfield and defensive option should be on Wenger’s wish list.