You never know which Arsenal would turn up from match to match. Nowadays, you are not even sure what sort of Arsenal team the manager would select. Having gone back to a back four for the fruitless game against the Hammers last time at the London Stadium, it was not clear before if Arsene would revert to the much derided (at least by this writer) back three formation.
As it turned out, the manager elected to stick with the team that started the last game, retaining the three Alexs upfront; Lacazette, Iwobi and Sanchez and the Conservative MP (Ainsley Maitland-Niles) at left back.
Matches against Newcastle have always been either fiery contests with loads of goals or tense, tights games with a lot riding on the results. This match was nothing like either. It was basically an uneventful game between a team struggling for results and performances against Arsenal.
The only highlight of the match worth watching again and again was the utterly spectacular solitary goal scored by Mesut Ozil. Like it did throughout most of the match, the ball pinged around in the Newcastle box with no Arsenal player able to deal with it effectively. The ball was half headed clear in the general direction of a rapidly readjusting Ozil. The German playmaker swung a cultured left foot at it and the ball rifled past the Newcastle players into the net. 1-0 to the Arsenal.
The second half was weird; but not just normal weird, it was Arsenal weird. After pressing and pushing in the early part of the second half for the second goal, the team seemed to retreat into itself as the half wore on, handbrake style. Maybe because the players were unsure of themselves in defence, they seemed to panic every time the away team attacked. In the end, they had a couple of deflections to thank for not dropping points.
The manager must surely be worried about how his teams been performing over the past few weeks, About how despite having so many playmakers on the field, his team is still struggling to create clear cut chances. About how even when this chances are created, his team still manages to fritter them away.
The three points were very much needed but there are much tougher tests ahead for this team. It remains to be seen whether this team would pass them.