Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle: Ozil struts his stuff as Arsenal seal North London superiority

In one of the most routine victories ever, Arsenal beat a team comfortably who, by all accounts, came to the Emirates Stadium just for the heck of it.

This was one of those wins where it was hard to find any negatives to balance the positives. There was, however, that drab opening 22 minute spell that sucked the life out of me. Sure, we had possession and we had an Ozil chance that whisked past the post, but other than that, it was dire.

I was worried. If Newcastle would open the scoring - they did come close when Sissoko curled an effort past the far post - then there was the real chance we might lose the support of the crowd. Coming back to win would have been difficult, considering our team's fickle mood-swings.

However, as it stood, Arsenal were just biding their time. We won a free kick around the 25th minute, Santi curled it in and Koscielny (who else?) dived to meet the ball and guide the ball into the far post. That's three goals for him directly responsible for St. Totteringham's Day, all in the same fashion. It's almost like the script was written.

The goal was what Arsenal needed, as we let go of the handbrake and started to impose ourselves. Against a Newcastle side with absolutely nothing to play for and Ozil in the mood, it was pretty easy. Podolski could have made it 3-0, when his low strike, which seemed to be going in was saved by Krul, and later when he was denied a headed goal after another Krul save.

We did get what we deserved just before half-time. Arteta floated a ball on the path of Giroud who was making a rare run behind the defence. The back two of Williamson and Collocini are particularly slow players, which probably helped Giroud put in an improved performance. Imagine how much chaos a quicker striker would have created. Remember Theo Walcott's hattrick against Newcastle in December 2012?

Anyway, Giroud controlled the ball perfectly, but then went for a shot instead of passing it to Ozil. His two strikes, both saved by Krul, kind of highlighted how poor he is in finishing one-on-one situations. There wasn't any clever attempt to curl it past the keeper or round him - instead, Giroud just decided to put his foot through the ball and see where it took him. On this occasion, he was saved by the deflection falling to an offside Ozil who tucked it in, but he won't be saved every day. He needs to be careful.

In the second half, after Gouffran showed evidence that Newcastle were theoretically still in the game, we proceeded to kill the game off. Ozil, who was simply breathtaking after scoring the second goal, took advantage of a Ramsey reverse and bulleted the ball in for Giroud to meet with his head. I don't know many Arsenal players who could have delivered that flat speedy cross like Ozil did, he deserves more credit for that than we give him.

I liked Ozil's performance yesterday. While I thought his performance at Hull was overrated, the Newcastle one wasn't. He was all over them, really, and showed elegance along with end product. Kudos to the guy, for what I think was his best performance in an Arsenal shirt since Napoli at home.

Kudos to Wenger too. He made absolutely the right call by removing the influential and essential trio of Ramsey, Ozil and Giroud, who deserved a rest. Come to think of it, he did the same against Hull, removing Ozil, Giroud and Podolski when the game was practically over. Is this a sign of a newfound positive man management from Arsene?

After the most comfortable win since, well, last week, Wenger said:

"It is a step forward [to fourth], but we need to make another one because we have another home game [on Sunday]. It is another opportunity to win again. What is important is to focus on our performance. Game-by-game, they look strong and convincing now."

Fourth could be sealed if Manchester City defeat Everton on Saturday, as seems increasingly likely. However, I haven't given up hope of third, so I hope Everton defeat City and we defeat West Brom. I know the chances of Arsenal overhauling City are slim to none, but as I said before, it's better to fight for third than stay content with fourth.


Right, time for some FIFA. And if time permits, I might change the layout of the blog or something, you never know.

Till then, Happy St. Totteringham's Day. Have a good one, Gooners.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )