|Santi Cazorla scored twice as Arsenal beat Newcastle|
Coincidentally it was two players that were rested for the midweek game who scored Arsenal's goals. Olivier Giroud scored twice as he sealed a sixth goal in five games against the Magpies. The other two goals meanwhile came from birthday boy Santi Cazorla who added to his goal against Stoke with a brace after going a long period of time without one in the League.
Giroud's return to action has been timely in the past month and has added his fair share of goals. With the Frenchman out we were over reliant on Sanchez to bring us the goals but that burden now appears to have been lifted. It was Alexis though who provided the assist for the opening goal. He lifted a ball into Giroud who leaped brilliantly to plant a header into the corner. His second meanwhile was a beautifully flicked finish as he converted the ball from a near impossible angle with the way he was standing.
Our forward line of Alexis, Giroud and Welbeck has been very convincing in the matches they've played together and that looks like a tactic Wenger will continue to play in the coming weeks. They linked up well on several occasions similarly to that of the game against West Brom and we could have had a lot more than the score line merited. Welbeck had a goal ruled out for an apparent foul on Janmaat despite lifting the ball over Alnwick brilliantly.
Santi Cazorla's form seemed to have dipped earlier in the season when forced to play out wide but since his return to the middle of the pitch he has been a revelation. His performances in recent weeks have been much improved and that was signified by the quality of his goals. His first was a beautifully measured chip into the far corner before he dinked the ball down the middle for his penalty; two goals that showed the new found confidence of the Spaniard.
Arsenal have been plagued with problems at the back this season and the game against Newcastle was no different. With Koscielny still struggling, and Chambers suspended, Mathieu Debuchy had to play at centre half against his former club. At first it was a worrying proposition but he looked assured in the central role and we looked far more convincing. Meanwhile Hector Bellerin had by far his best game in his short Arsenal career so far. His attacking play has always been good, but against Newcastle he displayed all the qualities of a modern day full back; you could tell the boy was from Barca! However what was most encouraging was his defensive play which until the weekend had been far from convincing - against Newcastle he contributed to all phases of the play and stopped the crosses from coming in on a regular basis. It was a stark contrast to last week.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is seizing his chance in the team at the moment and despite not offering a lot in terms of the goal scoring department he's been a constant threat going forward. I mentioned in my Galatasaray thoughts that the boss sees his future in the middle of the park, and his display against Newcastle exemplified that. When Wilshere is out injured we lack a sense of urgency in the middle of the pitch, and his drive has been a key theme of the Arsenal midfield for a while now. Chamberlain playing in the middle offers us a similar proposition, and despite being a lot more physical than Wilshere, he's looked aware and moves the play on quickly from defence to attack.
We now have a week's break before we face Liverpool next weekend who play in midweek in the League Cup. They haven't been in the best of form lately either so hopefully we'll take advantage of that when we visit Anfield.
The team's line-ups:
Arsenal: Szczesny, Bellerin, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain(90), Cazorla, Sanchez(86), Welbeck, Giroud(73).
Subs: Martinez, Ajayi, Coquelin(86), Maitland-Niles(90), Campbell, Podolski(73), Sanogo.
Newcastle: Alnwick, Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett, Tiote, Colback, Ameobi(56), Gouffran, Cisse(56), Perez(82).
Subs: Woodman, Haidara, Anita, Vuckic, Cabella(56), Riviere(56), Armstrong(82).
My man of the match: Santi Cazorla.
Referee: Lee Mason.