New Year, New Arsenal

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More annoying than New Year resolutions, more annoying than fireworks landing on your front door in the dead of the night, is the expectation that the turn of the year presents the only opportunity to make drastic changes in one’s life. I mean, how can one live your life by the demarcations of what is purely a medieval anachronism, the Gregorian calendar that is. You know, ‘new year new me’ and what other nonsense.

So it was really annoying when Arsenal seemed to carry that mantra into the new year in the match against Newcastle at the Emirates. Usually when the men from the northeast come visiting, the home team dominates all throughout the game.

It seemed like it was going to be that way when the match kicked off. For the first 15 minutes, Newcastle barely had a kick of the ball, the Arsenal players knocking the ball between themselves with confidence. Hector Bellerin, particularly on the right, found himself time and time again,with acres of space down the wing, with ample opportunities to deliver telling crosses into the box.

Sadly, his crosses didn’t really find any of his teammates and with time Newcastle began to find their the feet in the game. The longer the game went on, the more it seemed like it would be one of those games where Arsenal somehow manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of a middling draw. Typical Arsenal.

There were only a couple of changes in the Arsenal starting XI from the side that defeated Bournemouth comfortably in the last match. Mathieu Flamini recovering enough to replace Calum Chambers at the base of the midfield, Laurent Koscienly replacing Gabriel in defence.

Newcastle obviously didn’t read the script and perhaps were thinking of making a New Year’s resolution out of it as they began to cope better with the home team, especially in midfield.

When the opening goal, it was perhaps by the most unArsenal of ways. An Özil corner into the box, Giroud winning the second ball in the air and Koscielny getting in front of his marker to poke the ball home.

The home team should have perhaps added to their lead late on, Aaron Ramsey going close twice. They also had to be grateful to Petr Cech and his 171st clean sheet for keeping Newcastle out when the scores were level.

I don’t know where this new Arsenal came from but I like it. Even when things were not going their way, there was no hint of panic in the team. And when they made mistakes, and there were more than a few of them, they kept going, believing that they would get the breakthrough eventually. When they had to defend attacks from Newcastle, they did so resolutely, if haphazardly.

The Arsenal team didn’t play well by any stretch of the imagination, if fact they played pretty poor at times. The loss of key players to injuries, perhaps beginning to take its toll. But if the mark of true champions is the ability to pick up maximum points even when they are not playing optimally, then I will take all three points. Thank you very much.

So Arsenal begin the new year with a hard fought win to go top of the table. 18 more 1-0 wins like that and we win the league!!!

COME ON YOU RIP ROARING GUNNERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!




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