Match report – Player ratings – Video
I’m not sure we need a deep run on a game like yesterday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle, but given all that has happened this season, it seems reasonable to admit, that we have got a few things that have been in short supply: a pleasant gain and a clean sheet.
Mikel Arteta made eight changes to the team from Thursday night, including the return of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and David Luiz. The latter quality of the ball was evident throughout the first half and it was his ball to Hector Bellerin that led to the first goal. Aubameyang’s understandable rust was exhibited from the defender’s post, but when it fell to Mohamed Elneny on the edge of the box, he struck home his first Premier League goal. Everything that shoots pays off.
It was really clear how much Luiz brings to the team in possession, and while I fully acknowledge his skill on the ball, there is a part of me that wonders why it is so difficult for other players to do what he does. do. Should it be beyond the ability of a professional football player to kick the ball exactly from one side of the pitch to the other? As James pointed out Arsecast Extra last night when I raised this point, players who are so good at their passing usually do not end up as midfielders, but even if they do not take anything away from Luiz, it is not massive what he does complicated .
It’s useful, though, so it was a blow to see him go down with a hoarding strain in the second half. Maybe a consequence of coming back prematurely from knee surgery, but muscle tears are unpredictable things, and when you get to 34, you may be a little more receptive to them. It could be the end of his season, and depending on what the plans are for him this summer, it could be his last appearance in an Arsenal jersey.
Newcastle, let’s be honest, played as a team that knows they are more or less safe from relegation and just want this goddamn awful season over. The saint tried a few tricks and shimmies and forced Mat Ryan to a rescue with a weird, looping shot, but beyond that we were not at all uneasy.
As always, the only potential danger came from within. Granit Xhaka got booked in the 20th minute and I wondered if Mikel Arteta could consider taking him off at the break to avoid another Ceballos situation. He did not, because I do not think he thinks about these things the same way we do, and Xhaka was a little lucky to get away with a deep mistake – especially considering how little it takes for Mike Dean to get his red card out with a step one, two, three and TWIRL MIKE … TWIRL! In any case, there is no point in getting angry at something that did not happen.
Today’s best moment came in the 66th minute, when Martin Odegaard, finally free from the shackles of his marker Willian, sent a perfect pass into Gabriel Martinelli’s path. His cross was excellent, and Aubameyang’s acrobatic finish was exactly what the doctor ordered (along with the medicine for malaria). It was the captain’s first goal since Burnley on March 6, and with a big game on Thursday that will hopefully lead to an even bigger goal later this month, let’s hope it’s a timely rediscovery of his shooting boots.
There is a mindset that Aubameyang and Martinelli do not mix well and I can see how that may be the case. What I want to say though is that the sample size is quite small and yesterday this combination worked quite well. The young Brazilian was excellent on the day, man after the match in my opinion and he drew praise from the manager afterwards who said:
Gabi improves every week. He takes his minutes in the right way and he develops the way we all believe he can Today he had an assist, which was an important moment and he had some good moments on the left – and also tried to play as No. 9 as well.
After a suggestion from Martin Keown about BT Sport last week that Arteta simply does not like Martinelli, the manager continued: “If there is any doubt, I love Gabi so much. More than everyone! ”
The 19-year-old performance was one that demonstrated the need for him to play more frequently, so I hope this is a takeaway for Arteta. I never bought the idea that he did not like him, but I think he doubted the readiness of a young player. This doubt should be out the window now. He is a big part of what our future should contain, so fingers crossed, we see more of him.
There was a late red card for Fabian Schar, whose scything challenge at Martinelli was described by the commentary team at Sky as ‘naughty’. I wish we could have a discussion about the language used in moments like this. ‘Naughty’ is a child drawing on the wall with crayons, this was over the top, unnecessary, dangerous, bordering on violent, and to reject it with the kind of words you had used to scold a small child is just not good enough.
I suppose it is not a surprise when Sky continues to hire someone like Graeme Souness, who just last week was basically allowed to miss out on the lack of on-site violence in the modern game. Luckily, Martinelli seems ok, a bit bruised, nothing serious. Schar gets a three-match ban, but as I have often said, there must be a sliding scale of red cards, where each one is assessed after the game, and the unnecessaryness and timing of this challenge would, in my opinion, deserve a longer ban.
All in all, a decent run before Thursday, and there are players who came in on the side – like Gabriel, Bellerin, Aubameyang and Martinelli – who should be in conflict by Thursday. For more on that, James and I choose our starting XI for Villarreal in the new Arsecast Extra as well as discuss the Newcastle game, the postponement of Utd against Liverpool after fan protests and much more. Listen below or in your favorite podcast app.
I leave it there now, have a good Monday.
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This Arsecast Extra was recorded with ipDTL