Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 0: what we predicted and how it pannned out
12:59 04 January 2016
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What we predicted
We were confident this would turn into something of a stroll for Arsenal, backing the home side for a 3-0 victory.
The first 15 minutes or so gave us no reason to doubt our prediction, with Arsenal’s pace on the flanks giving the visitors plenty to worry about and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain spearing a volley just wide.
But as the game progressed, Newcastle gained control of the centre of the pitch and looked the more likely to score, with Petr Cech twice called into action to foil Georginio Wijnaldum.
The Dutchman squandered an excellent opportunity to put his side ahead early in the second half, bursting through onto Jack Colback’s pass – but Cech came to the Gunners’ rescue again, advancing to make the block.
With 18 minutes remaining, however, Mesut Ozil’s corner was half-cleared and Olivier Giroud headed it on for Laurent Koscielny – who has now scored three times in five appearances against the Magpies – to steer home.
Aaron Ramsey went close to doubling the lead, but Newcastle still looked likely to grab a deserved equaliser and Aleksandar Mitrovic and substitute Siem de Jong, who was denied by Cech in added time, both had chances to do just that.
Buy him a pint
Frankly, none of Arsenal’s outfield players were worthy of this award – but their goalkeeper, whose value to the side becomes ever more evident, certainly was.
The Gunners were fortunate to finish victorious and they would surely never have done so but for Cech’s saves – three of them from Wijnaldum – to keep them in the game.
Get your coat son
Where to start? Koscielny may have scored the vital goal, but he looked unusually sloppy at times, while Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini were comprehensively outfought in midfield by Colback and Cheick Tiote.
However, Theo Walcott impressed less than most. Whether operating on the right or the left, his passing was poor – admittedly not helped by the sodden surface – and he conceded possession far too often.
From Arsenal’s perspective, none at all – except maybe the sound of the full-time whistle.