Arsenal 1-1 Newcastle
OK, so the top two will take points off each other next weekend, but let’s be honest: it’s late November and already Arsenal are going to need a winning run of epic proportions to get back into this title race.
There are no doubt plenty of you who will disagree, but I still don’t think there’s much wrong with the side – certainly nothing that can’t be rectified. Aside from the two away defeats (the same number as the Russians), we’ve dropped eight silly home points thanks, in no small part, to our immensely frustrating habit of gifting opponents goal leads.
If we weren’t creating chances then I’d be more concerned. As it is, in every game we tot up corners and shots like they’re going out of fashion.
The first half performance today was not us at our fluid best, but in the second half we set up base camp outside the Newcastle box and could – should – have made more of our shots count. That we couldn’t was down to several reasons – Given’s goalkeeping, our wastefulness, bad luck even. Predictable, but it’s a fact.
A couple of things I noticed: Firstly, Walcott’s crossing of the ball is superb. He must have floated three or four pinpoint crosses into the box, an outlet that the team needs to capitalise on. It’s not a part of his game that’s talked about much, but his crosses really did cause chaos.
And secondly, for the first time since he left, I lamented the loss of Pires. There were several shots parried away or crosses flashed across the box that Pires would have licked off the plate. Perhaps the man to be in the right place at the right time – Ljungberg – might make a difference when he returns.
The team as a whole needs to be less wasteful. We need to stop giving goals away. Both these things need to happen without losing the good things – the passing, the movement, the invention.
Plain to see I suppose, but that’s basically it.