After a fairly routine 2-1 victory, it was another enjoyable afternoon for the Gunners yesterday. A further 3 points to mark a run of three straight wins. Goals from Granit Xhaka and Mesut Özil tipped the balance early in the second half and gave Arsenal a lot of breathing space for the remainder of the game.
The game was not always this one sided though. For the first 30/35 minutes The Geordies piled on the pressure. Regularly playing the ball out to the space occupied by Murphy in-behind advancing full back Hector Bellerín. However, despite creating a number of opportunities, very few properly worried Petr Čech in net.
The biggest chance for Newcastle came midway through the half, when Mustafi misjudged the flight of a long ball and slipped over in the process. Joselu was seemingly through on goal but Mustafi’s fellow CB, Sokratis, was able to come across and match him stride for stride before putting in a well timed tackle and halting the strikers progress.
For the last 10 minutes of the first half, Arsenal began to influence the game more and started to make combinations on the edge of the box, albeit lacking that clinical final ball. With chances falling to the likes of Aubameyang and Ramsey.
When, at the start of the second half, Arsenal got a free kick about 25 yards out, not much was expected. With Torreira looking the favourite to take it and it being seemingly to central, fans of The Gunners would have been expecting a shot into row z, as is somewhat of a norm these days. But instead Granit Xhaka stepped up with the belief that had been given to him by Mesut Özil, who had ‘told him to shoot’ after seeing him in training. Curling the ball into the top corner, Xhaka repaid Özil for his belief and scored his first of the season.
Xhaka then continued to impress and a couple of minutes later, cut the ball back which after a block, fell to the feet of Özil who finished well. This two goal lead was only damaged by a late consolation where Mustafi could have been better positioned to deal with a cross but it was a successful afternoon nonetheless.
Man Of The Match: Sokratis – 8/10
A signing originally criticised because of his age and alleged declining ability, has impressed massively this season. Assured in many elements of his role as a CB, he has been able to prevent many dangerous attacks and continues to give support to his fellow team mates. This was seen yesterday when he confidently controlled the game, giving the midfielders and attackers freedom with the knowledge that no counter attacks would be successful.