Arsenal’s poor away form that has bugged them all season was again in full view as they lost to Newcastle at the Sports direct stadium Sunday afternoon. When these sides met in December there were 14 places between them, less because Arsenal were threatening to challenge at the top than because Newcastle were in grave danger of relegation. Little has changed for Arsenal but Newcastle are all but safe, as even Benítez acknowledges now they have broken the 40-point barrier. Their form since the turn of the year has been remarkable. Im happy for them. I like Rafa Benitez, who in my opinion has always been a Top Manager.


Even Wenger’s team selection made it Abundantly clear that the league is no longer really a priority. Why ? Because there’s just nothing serious to play for. Chelsea may be in range, but the difference between finishing fifth and sixth is largely academic. The focus now is the Europa League and the possibility of Arsenal’s first European trophy since 1994, which meant Wenger had chop and change to give run-outs to a few squad players and youth graduates.

From those changes, perhaps something was learned. When Pierre Emrich Aubameyang was signed from Borussia Dortmund in January, the obvious question was what could it meann mean for Alexandre Lacazette. The doubts about the balance of the squad have not gone away but at least here were a few snippets of evidence that the two can play together, the Gabon forward offering a pace and directness from the left that optimists perhaps once hoped Danny Welbeck would provide. It was Aubameyang’s cross, having gathered a sumptuous pass from Shkodran Mustafi, that brought the opener from a stretching Lacazette volley in the first 20mins.

Lacazette celebrates his opening goal at St James Park but Arsenal were unable to capitalise on their early dominance

Lacazette Celebrates goal


Whether the two can play together with Mesut Özil in the side is an entirely different matter. Here the German was rested as the 18‑year‑old Joe Willock was handed a league debut. The youngest of three brothers to come through at the Arsenal academy but the only one still at the club, Willock did not have the most impactful of games, his most notable contribution being to stumble over a pass from Lacazette that may have been intended for Aubameyang and that came as something of a surprise given the French forward could have shot.


Newcastle United 2 Arsenal 1: Ritchie extends Gunners' wretched away run

match winner ritchie for Newcastle


But nobody seemed much minded to heed lessons anyway. The opening goal was a perfect case study in the dangers of playing a high line without applying pressure to the man on the ball, yet the Newcastle equaliser stemmed from precisely the same source – and if there’s any player in the Premier League who cannot be offered time to drop a long pass over the defence it is Jonjo Shelvey. The midfielder is an unpredictable, frustrating player but the one thing he has done consistently over his career is execute that sort of ball.

Arsenal’s defending on that second goal was oh my goodness, Terrible. Makes you wonder why we want to be in the champions league with a defence  like this?

In fact if we learned anything it’s that same old same old will always be the case. Newcastle remain a limited side but they have fight , Arsenal gifted individuals but fallible, particularly away from home. The game bubbled along pleasingly enough, but the general conclusion is the Gunners need fresh air breathed into their Team personnel wise and Managerial wise.

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