EPL 2005: Day 24 (Arsenal 1 – Newcastle 0)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
January 23rd, 2005 • 8:01 am

The score line ended up being the same as three weeks ago, when Arsenal beat Newcastle at St. James’ Park — but it was definitely a very different game.

In the game three weeks ago, the Gunners were far from impressive and there was no flow to their football after they took the lead through an unexpected (yet impressive) Vieira shot. It was one of the most boring games I have seen played by the Gunners.

We didn’t get anything of the kind this time. Although Arsenal scored quite early, they continued to attack throughout the game — and Newcastle owe it to their fantastic keeper Shay Given that the score line was not much more embarrassing. There was a good level of commitment from all players, and several very close calls for Newcastle.

In fact, the Gunners should probably have opened the score within 30 seconds of the kick-off, through Flamini. Robert Pires should have had a couple, and Thierry Henry was very unfortunate to see his shot saved by a Shay Given reflex later in the second half.

There was a bit too much untidiness for my liking on the part of players like Henry and Reyes — but on the other hand, we looked quite solid defensively. The only concern is Kolo Touré’s elbow in Shearer’s back, which was caught on camera and looked quite deliberate. I am sure that Shearer is a very annoying player to defend against, but there is still no excuse for this type of reaction. There are reasons to fear that Touré will end up with a ban — which would be quite unusual for him.

Still, on the whole it was a rather reassuring performance. The Gunners had good flow and were constantly threatening. Newcastle didn’t threaten much, except maybe for a few iffy minutes towards the end of the game, where the Gunners looked like they might be punished for not having converted more than one of their chances. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and Arsenal are back in second place where they belong — even though it doesn’t take them any closer to the leaders Chelsea, of course.

Next up is the FA Cup tie against Wolves, which looks like it will be televised here in Canada, and then the crucial clash against Manchester United at Highbury on February 1, which most definitely will be televised here. Here’s hoping that, for once, we’ll get an actual football match!

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