In a classic game of two halves, Arsenal managed to keep Newcastle United at bay in St. Jamesa Park, coming away with a 2-1 win and 3 points thanks to Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal had a pretty easy first half, although Newcastle did manage to go toe to toe with them for the first 20 minutes. But once the first goal was guided in by Olivier Giroud from Santi Cazorlaa s free kick, it was all Arsenal for the rest of the half. Newcastle, however, picked up their game in the second game and gave a real tough time for the gunners, but the Arsenal defence was resilient and held on to take all 3 points. Here are a few things we learnt from the game.
Olivier Girouda s hot streak
Giroud has been in fine form for Arsenal, and he has now scored 2 more goals for Arsenal. Whatever his mistakes in the Monaco game that proved to be so costly for Arsenal, one cannot but agree that is he a very good striker. He may not have the pace and movement of an Henry or a Wright, but he has his own strong points, with his deft flicks and hold up play. More importantly, hea s finding the goals, at least in the Premier League, and at this stage of the season, they are very important for Arsenal. As long as Giroud keeps scoring the goals, or providing for his teammates, hea ll be an important part in this important part of the season.
Newcastlea s second half performance
For a team that has absolutely nothing to play for, conceding 2 goals in the space of 4 minutes would be extremely de-motivating. And thata s how they played out the rest of the first half, letting Arsenal get on top of them without so much as a semblance of a fight. But whatever was said in the interval by interim manager John Carver seemed to have galvanized the Toons as they came out with a hunger that was not at all in evidence in the first half. They had wave after wave of attacks on the Arsenal goal, and after Sissokoa s goal, they seemed to have redoubled their efforts to get that equalizer. Although that never came, it was a period of joy as both the players on the field and the fans in the stands were completely in the game. The players showed real effort to try and get the goal while the fans egged them on with their chanting and singing throughout the second half, and for once it seemed like this was again the famed St. Jamesa Park that we all knew and loved.
Santi Cazorlaa s importance
In the absence of Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker in the team, the captaina s armband was passed to midfield maestro Santi Cazorla. For the player itself, it would have been a huge boost in terms of the importance Arsene Wenger places on him, and this might have been an occasion which the manager used to show the Spaniard how much hea s valued in the team. While Cazorla has been in fantastic form, rumours have not subsided that he is looking for a move back to Spain. For Arsene himself, the captaincy is not of much importance, considering he gave Gallas that honour not so long ago, but for Cazorla, it would have been an important gesture, and might go some way in convincing him that his future lay in London rather than in Spain.
Arsenala s defensive resilience
For many years now, defending had been Arsenala s Achilles heel. Time and time again good offensive performances have been negated by poor defensive errors. But the new year has seen a renaissance in that aspect, with the team focusing on defensive performances as much as they do when going forward. Sure, they have been some very good defensive performance in the last couple of seasons, but it hasna t been a concerted effort, and certainly not on a consistent basis. But now, Arsenal seem to have figured out the balance between offence and defence, and it is reaping rewards for them.