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After a season replete with wonderful attacking football, newly reliable defending, a moving new anthem and the first title challenge in ages, the Arsenal travelled in hope to the home of the former Geordie paupers now reincarnated as the shameless sports-washing vehicle of a despicable regime. This fixture stood out as the biggest remaining hurdle after our disappointing trip to east Manchester and was yet another ‘must win’ as victory was essential to maintaining our faint hope of winning the title.

As expected, after his solid performance against Chelsea, Jorginho kept his place in the centre of midfield and Martinelli replaced Trossard on our left flank. Apart from Martinelli’s return, the rest of the team was the one that started against Chelsea. The ‘codes started their usual man mountain defence, a robust midfield of Joelinton, Guimares and Willock with Murphy, Wilson and Isak up front. The latter two started together for the first time – a declaration of offensive intent by Howe whose team, so negative when they visited the Grove, have been scoring goals for fun recently.

As also expected, the home crowd provided an extremely hostile reception from kick off, though not nearly as hostile as that received by Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.  The Arsenal displayed confident ball control and movement from kick off appearing to cope well with the opposition’s feverish pressing. However, when we lost possession in midfield we were suddenly under pressure as the ‘codes rode the wave of noise and their front three drove straight at us. We had to ride our luck after only 1 minute when Murphy struck a Willock cross from the inside right position inside our box. Murphy’s shot eluded Ramsdale’s fingertips but struck his right-hand post rebounding centrally to be cleared by Ben White. Only a minute later White had to slide in to clear for a corner Isak’s shot from inside our box on the left after Xhaka had been dispossessed midway inside our half. In the recent past, the Arsenal defence might have been rocking after such a frantic start. However, we didn’t panic. Ramsdale began his battle against the clock, diverting the Geordie offensive passion into frustrated anger by taking his time over every kick and we reverted to the confident pass and move that we had briefly displayed at the outset. In response the ‘codes began their agenda of grabbing, shirt-pulling, elbowing, barging and leaving the foot in at every opportunity and Kavanagh displayed a complete lack of interest in discouraging that behaviour by the use of his whistle or yellow card.

The first turning point of the match came on seven minutes. After a well worked Newcastle corner on our left, the ball was passed centrally to the unmarked Guimaraes whose firm shot into the crowded box was blocked by Kiwior. Unhesitatingly, the referee pointed to the spot. Replays showed that the ball had struck Kiwior’s thigh before looping past his right arm which he had pulled inwards and behind his back. I don’t think the ball touched his arm at all. It took a full 3 minutes for VAR’s analysis and Kavanagh’s review of the monitor before the decision was reversed. That first ten minutes had been frantic and I don’t like to think what might have transpired had that penalty stood and been scored but that episode lifted us as much as it deflated them. Moreover, it is another clear vindication of VAR despite the many problems hitherto associated with its implementation in England.

The game then became a heavyweight slugging match with multiple individual duels in which every one of our players stood firm and refused to be intimidated. We passed the ball slickly and our high press quelled Newcastle’s forward charge. After Xhaka had dispossessed Guimaraes midway inside his own half and passed the ball to Jesús, the clearly irritated Newcastle player stopped our Saviour some 35 yards from goal with a rugby tackle for which even Neville thought he should have been booked. The second turning point came in the 13th minute, after Ødegaard took the free kick. The ball found its way to Saka on our right flank who passed it inside via Jorginho to Ødegaard in space 30 yards out. Our captain struck it low and hard into the bottom right hand corner of the opposition goal.

Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal, 13 minutes

The locals were silenced. “We’ve got super Mik Arteta” rang out from the travelling support in the Gods. The duels continued.  Our players buzzed around opposition players in possession and challenged for every loose ball with a vigour reminiscent of some of our finest teams. When we regained possession, we calmly played around the ‘codes moving the ball swiftly and accurately. In the 20th minute, at the end of an extended period of such possession with 14 passes involving nearly every Arsenal player, Ødegaard played a beautiful pass through the centre of the Newcastle defence for the onrushing Martinelli to go one on one with Pope. Gabigol really should have buried it but his low shot was blocked by the keeper’s right foot and the ball rebounded to our right flank. Ødegaard sprinted over to claim it, dribbled into the box and his curling shot was tipped round the far post by Pope. The game was clearly turning.  Our players also started deploying the dark arts by delaying restarts and clearly getting under the skin of the opposition. Hand of Nemesis, Eddie!

In the 23rd minute another spell of elegant possession ended with a sweet through ball from Xhaka to Saka running through the centre of the Newcastle back four. Sadly, this one on one ended with another Pope save with Saka’s shot rebounding from the keeper’s shoulder. Newcastle responded with a nice effort from Willock running into the right side of our box that was well saved by Ramsdale. Seconds later, Ramsdale had to dive at the feet of Wilson to push a squared ball away from the onrushing forward who had simply run past Kiwior. However, the Geordie crowd were still eclipsed by the travelling Gooners, their main contribution being howls of outrage whenever our players took their time over restarts. Our players continued to take heavy physical challenges while in return harrying the opposition all over the pitch with Ødegaard and Jorginho in particular, always making themselves available for a pass. The lack of referee intervention was once again underlined when a rapid breakout by Jesús up the right flank was terminated by a foul challenge from behind by Burn without so much as a quiet word. 

On 40 minutes Ødegaard played the ball left to Martinelli inside the Newcastle box but the Brazilian’s shot screwed across the face of the goal beyond the reach of the incoming Saka. Yet the Geordie nasty streak was still there and during another Arsenal attack Guimaraes deliberately ran his studs down Saka’s Achilles off the ball, behind the feckless referee’s back (no card of course). This produced the first ruck with an inexplicably belligerent Joelinton having to be placated by his countrymen Jesús and Gabriel.

In the 5 added minutes at the end of the first half, Ramsdale caught a Schär header that was straight at him and Xhaka took the steam out of any Newcastle revival by collapsing at the edge of the box. When we were given a throw in to restart, the Newcastle players and fans vortexed into high dudgeon because Zinchenko ignored the ball that had rolled ten yards behind him and requested the ball from a ball-girl in front of him who was clearly in some drug-addled stupor. Two subthemes were verbals between Xhaka and Wilson and between Jesús and Trippier. The latter exchange almost provoked a physical response from Trippier. We were deploying the finest shithousery out there.  As the clock ticked round to the 52nd minute, Saka dispossessed some big stripey lump on the left of their box, passed the ball to Martinelli who darted towards the byeline and cut it inside to Ødegaard whose sweet first touch left Byrne prostrate and as he bore down on goal I would have bet the farm that we were going to go 2-0 up but once again Pope blocked a one on one as he got a foot to Ødegaard’s right foot shot.

Half Time: Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal

We thoroughly deserved the half time lead and really should have been two or three up. Despite their early flurry and strike on the woodwork we had made by far the better chances and been a constant threat after the ‘penalty’ episode. However, manfully though our players had stood up to the physical assaults and brilliantly though we had silenced the initially rabid crowd, with our recent history, one couldn’t help thinking about the two 2-0 leads we had spurned and a previous incarnation that had lost a 4-0 lead on this very ground. Could we see this through?

The second half began as the first half ended with Arsenal passing the ball through the Newcastle press and then through their defensive lines and getting kicked for their efforts. The third turning point came in the 48th minute when Zinchenko slipped in the box allowing Murphy to chip a ball to the onrushing Isak whose unchallenged header struck Ramsdale’s left hand post with the keeper beaten. Seconds later, a Trippier freekick from the right found the head of Schär, unmarked on the edge of the 6-yard box. Ramsdale pulled off an excellent save, diving to his right to push the downward header away. 

The second half appeared to be starting with another spell of Newcastle pressure but we had other ideas. Jesús found Martinelli unmarked inside the opposition box and Gabi’s high curling shot appeared to be heading for the far top corner but clipped the bar and bounced over. We returned to our harrying when out of possession, shithousery on restarts and elegant pass and move when the opportunity arose. Our work rate was extraordinary and the travelling Gooners’ chants of “Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal” rang around St James’. On 55 minutes Jesús got his first chance of a shot but his effort was blocked for a corner. 

As “Super Mik Arteta” rang out, an unchallenged driving run through midfield and a lovely through ball from Burn found Isak running into our box on the left. He slipped the ball inside to Willock who had a clear shot on goal. Just as Willock prepared to hit the ball, Xhaka slid in to take the ball away from him and take the force of Willock’s kick full on his glutei in as Keown-esque a block as you’ll ever see. What a superb ‘match-winning’ intervention and it epitomised the team’s spirit and work rate. On 60 minutes, Guimaraes got away with another late challenge on Jorginho without any sanction. Meanwhile Tierney replaced Zinchenko whose loss of focus after 60 minutes has become evident in recent games. A feeble effort by Guimaraes to reproduce Ødegaard’s goal was then easily hoovered up by Ramsdale. On 64 minutes Almiron replaced Murphy whose contribution had long since faded from memory.

Having failed to match us in football skills, Newcastle resorted to grievous bodily harm. In short order Joelinton elbowed Xhaka in the head as we defended a wrongly-awarded Trippier free-kick from our right then Schär put a forearm smash into Jesús who collapsed to the turf with a cry heard round the world. Yellow card? Don’t be silly! Jesús recovered and was soon firing a low shot at Pope’s left-hand post from a tight angle that the keeper could only block for a corner.

On 71 minutes came the final turning point of the match. We had once again weathered the early Newcastle storm, dealt with their efforts and physical aggression and carved a few opportunities for ourselves but the game was still in the balance. Once again, we were scrapping for possession in our own half when Tierney intercepted a through ball into our box which had been aimed for Almiron. Tierney passed the ball forward to Jesús who wriggled past some big stripey blokes and laid it off to Martinelli running up the left. As Gabi drew near the opposition box, he could see only Saka trying to keep up with him on the far right. He slowed down, allowing Saka to get into the box and Ødegaard to approach the edge of the box then took on a big stripey lump, reached the bye line and fired a low hard cross across the face of the goal to where Ødegaard was arriving at the far post. It didn’t reach him. Schär kindly put it in for him.

Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal, 71 minutes

I expect that there were limbs in the Gods. No doubt, Countryman 100, our man on the spot, will confirm. There was certainly screaming and jumping about here!

In the 73rd minute Kavanagh finally located a yellow card which he brandished to Burn for his umpteenth late challenge on Saka. Once again, “We’ve got super Mik Arteta” and “You’ve only come to see the Arsenal” rang out from on high. In stark contrast to the game at the Grove, the ‘codes were in a hurry but we were harrying them at the edge of their box and all over the pitch and the game settled into a midfield battle of attrition. In the 78th minute, Willock was replaced by Saint-Maximin and Wilson by Gordon followed a minute later by the replacement of Martinelli by Trossard and Ødegaard by Partey. A couple of minutes later, in a last throw of the dice, Joelinton and Byrne were replaced by Anderson and Target. We continued to threaten with a good ball from Jorginho finding Jesús in the box but the forward’s first touch let him down. Meanwhile we were dealing effectively with everything Newcastle threw at us and Anderson resorted to diving into Xhaka’s back in a fruitless effort to win a penalty while Almiron struck Ramsdale in an attempt to get him to drop the ball. Ramsdale ensured that some time elapsed before he was ready to continue. Nelson and Nketia replaced Saka and Jesús in the 86th minute.

As the clock wound round towards the 90, we were under sustained pressure for the first time since the early minutes of the half but our lines stayed strong and a speculative Schär shot from the edge of our box soared over Ramsdale’s bar and a punt from Guimaraes soared past his left post. In the first of 6 added minutes, Ramsdale turned a Saint-Maximin shot from the edge of our box past his left post then clutched a lofted cross/shot towards his right post from Almiron. The travelling support were in good voice and “We love you Arsenal” sustained our sterling defensive efforts as we saw the game out. Schär and Trippier manhandled Nketiah as he tried to keep the ball in the corner resulting in handbags between Schär and Nketiah, both of whom got a yellow for their troubles. The game ended with a nasty challenge on Xhaka by Anderson who was lucky that the whistle prevented suitable retribution.

Full Time: Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal

This was a ‘good old Arsenal’ performance. In a ground where we were bullied a year ago and came up short we stood up to both the legal and illegal challenges, played some lovely football and defended manfully. They were all heroes as were the travelling support. A fully deserved victory with a well-deserved clean sheet. Jorginho fully earned his Man of the Match award but every man did his bit with 8/10 or 9/10 performances and we are still in this race.

I’ll add a postscript from Jorginho’s post-match interview:

“We know this league. We know that we can’t win every game playing beautiful football the way we want and I’m really pleased to see that our team can play this kind of game and understand that sometimes it’s not possible to go through just with passes and sometimes you need to fight and I’m very proud of the team, the way they fought until the end.”

These boys are growing up.


77 Drinks to “A Towering Achievement That Preserves Possible Coronation”

  1. 1
    ClockEndRider says:

    Top notch report, Bath. Exactly the game I saw. The post match complaints from Howe are patently risible given his sides disgraceful performance in January at the Emirates. Nemesis indeed. Jorginho was excellent and the only one who was somewhat off was Zinchenko. I thought Arteta showed that he continues to learn by making a very early and well timed second half substitution of the Ukrainian for Tierney, as well as being bold enough to take off the excellent Odegaard for Partey. A well and indeed hard-earned victory in the face of a furious on and off pitch onslaught.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    Great and comprehensive report on such an enjoyable win for the good guys. One of your many spot-on observations I wanted to highlight, Bath: “This produced the first ruck with an inexplicably belligerent Joelinton having to be placated by his countrymen Jesús and Gabriel.” WTF? Exactly what seemed to be going through the minds of the calmer two of those three Brazilians. Joelinton must hang out with Richarlison in the Brazilian loony bin.

  3. 3
    Ttg says:

    A report almost as enjoyable as the game and one which recreates the atmosphere of a pretty brutal clash beautifully. . The media have never worked out whether they prefer to criticise Arsenal for bottling opportunities or failing to resist being bullied by big boys teams or whether they resent a first class display of shithousery like yesterday .
    Bath covers so much so well I was left with a few thoughts which veer between the present and next season
    – Why didn’t we pick Kiwior earlier ? He enables us to defend ten yards further up than Holding
    – I love Zinchenko but he’s not a good fit for yesterday’s left back role. Tierney is and Arteta made a great switch early
    – Notice the huddles and who does the talking . Granit does the verbals and MO the stuff with his feet . Odegaard was terrific again – he’s a gem.
    – Jesus gives the team massive personality and creates huge problems for the opposition. He will not get huge numbers of goals but we are a team who share goals around
    – Saka is utterly knackered and we need to rotate him more
    – I loved Jorginho’s performance and his interview where he implied if you don’t like games like that you’re doing the wrong job . But I’m puzzled about whether we will part company with Partey because I think Xhaka is staying. Anyone who saw Rice for West Ham or any of Caicedo’s recent performances will appreciate they could both bring a lot to us
    – I think we may see Zaha at Arsenal next season. Not sure how I feel about it

    Loads of stuff to discuss after the latest in a string of fine and brave away performances

  4. 4
    North Bank Ned says:

    Terrific report, bath. Caught the game to a T.

    I thought that Kavanagh must have left his yellow card at home and that it wasn’t until late in the game that his missus arrived at the ground with it. There is no other explanation for the Barcodes being allowed to foul with impunity for so long.

    TTG@3: good points all. I will punt that the Kiwior decision was determined by the timing of the Man City game, where Arteta might have wanted Holding’s experience and wasn’t expecting Capitola Rob’s lack of pace to be such a factor. I like how Kiwior seems to talk a lot at set pieces; some leadership potential there, too.

    On sharing the scoring, we are the only team in the league with four players into double figures of goals (MØ8, Gabi, Saka and Jesus).

    The away support was just terrific, too. Loud and clear all game, and clearly up for the vocal fight with the home fans.

    ecg@previous drinks: you need the comparative adjective. Trippier is the uglier Rooney.

  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    I don’t favour signing Zaha. It is partly his age, and left-wing is not a position where experience counts in the way it can do in defence or midfield. Also, as he plays on the left, he would share duties with Martinelli, not Saka, plus, we already have Trossard who plays on the left and offers something different. I also suspect that Zaha might be a disruptive element if he is not playing regularly, which he wouldn’t be.

    In midfield, Arteta is clearly planning for a future without Partey and eventually without Xhaka, who has one year left on his contract after this season with the club having an option for another one, at the end of which he will be almost 33.

  6. 6
    Las says:

    Cheers, bath. A truly enjoyable and funny report. I was laughing out loud … “It didn’t reach him. Schär kindly put it in for him.” Love it.
    I think Xhaka played very well adding the irritating bastard role to his usual repertoire. 🙂
    Great win.

  7. 7
    OsakaMatt says:

    Outstanding Bath thanks, I hope it was an enjoyable one to write.
    Fantastic from us and I was so proud of the team yesterday.

    Glad to see the mention of Jamal Khashoggi, if i owned The Arsenal
    we would have a minutes silence for him every time Toon visited.
    Just to let them know that we know who they are and what they represent.

    I agree with you on VAR though I watched the Manure / Wham highlights
    tonight and Wham had a stonewall penalty ignored. Unlike the one Kavanaugh
    confidently gave in a crowded area with the ball moving at pace this one was
    a fairly slow moving moving ball with nobody obstructing the view. I mean it’s
    Wham so who cares of course but the level of decision-making is still poor.

    Anyway, a great weekend to be a gooner 😃

  8. 8
    OsakaMatt says:

    @3 I hope you are wrong about Zaha TTG! Didn’t want him three years ago and certainly don’t now.

  9. 9
    Countryman100 says:

    Thanks Bath for a terrific match report. I’m just home from Newcastle and here’s a few thoughts on a terrific game of football and a truly wonderful away day.

    I was greeted as I entered St James Park by a four year old resplendent in full barcodes kit and an accent to match. “Are you Arsenal?” asked the young Geordie, just checking that my red and white scarf didn’t mean that I was a Mackem. I leant down. “Yes” I said. “You’ve bottled the league” he replied, pleasantly. I briefly contemplated engaging him in debate concerning Saudi Arabian blood money, but as his 20 stone Dad was hovering, decided that a superior smile was the best course of action. That kid may have been in tears at the end. I do hope so. I wandered off to the away turnstiles, met by the always smiley Newcastle stewards, who, when I requested the lift (I’d been here before, no way I was climbing 14 flights of stairs), were helpful and polite.

    I emerged somewhere in the flight lane from Newcastle airport and made my way to my seat, fighting off the vertigo from my lofty spot in the Gods. This was a great gathering of the clans. Pat and Andy from the row behind me in the North Bank were there, as was Layth, the editor of the Gooner, sitting amongst the fans as he couldn’t get a seat in the press box. I also saw lots of people I knew to nod at from various away grounds this season. It’s such a diverse group as well, young, old, male, female, all races and religions, including, just to our right, two tall Sikhs with magnificent beards that I last saw at Wolves. It seemed that everyone around me had been there 12 months earlier and we were all both determined on revenge and nervous that we might get a repeat dose. Every seat seemed to be filled, though not a soul was sitting down.

    Away we went. They started well, and the noise in that stadium was as intense as anything I have ever heard. Bath describes the start well, Newcastle hitting the post, then being awarded a penalty for handball which was overturned by VAR. So far this was a repeat of last year. But from the moment that Ramsdale took his subsequent kick, taking his time to line it up like it was the winning putt in the Masters (I read that somewhere last night), the game changed. We roared the team on. We were attacking the Gallowgate, so we had an eagle’s eye view as the captain lashed the ball inside Pope’s post. Cue absolute pandemonium. I was hugged by the tall young man to my left, my son to my right and the two tall Sikhs to his right. At six feet tall I was comfortably the shortest, but I loved every minute. At that moment, the Geordie crowd noise decreased by 90%. We bossed the game and we bossed the noise levels.

    Pope and Ramsdale engaged in a save off for Pickford’s England spot. Both made wonderful saves, though Aaron’s save in the second half from a point blank header in the second half was incredible and brought back memories of Seaman’s FA Cup semi final save v Sheffield United of yester year. We seemed to blow three one on ones in the first half and hit half time thinking we could have been several goals to the good.

    Everywhere I looked, Arsenal players were being fouled late by the barcodes. After the performance dished up by Newcastle at the Emirates who could blame us for maybe taking a little longer to get up than usual. I thought Ramsdale, Kiwior, Xhaka, Jorghino and Odegaard were fantastic. Good sub by Arteta to bring Tierney in for Zinny on the hour as he was starting to look a liability. Can we persuade Kieran to stay?

    The second goal killed the game. Right in front of us Gabi fizzed the ball across and in it went from a defender. Reprise of “limbs”, but this time I thought I was going to move from row R to row E via the aerial route. My son held on to me grimly as I was buffeted. But my god we were happy. We knew we were there at that point.

    The whole game, the travelling Arsenal faithful were superlative, in some of the best support I’ve heard all season (and that is saying something). I read on Twitter a Newcastle fan saying Arsenal were the best away support at SJP this season. Constant chanting and singing, from every players name, to guttural ARSENAL, ARSENAL, Mik Arteta’s army, advice to the Newcastle fans that a) they had only come to see the Arsenal b) offering to sing a song for them, c) where they could stick their Saudi money.

    Final whistle. Delirious cheers for our team who came over and paid homage to the upper tier. Big Gabi in particular was well into it. The Newcastle fans had all gone by the time our team left the pitch.

    Off to celebrate after the game with my son and his two friends, one of whom lives the city after going to University there. They led me to a very trendy bar by the Tyne, where the beer was curious, the music was loud and the burgers were sloppy. Very enjoyable, but after a four hour drive, a very intense match, and walking up and down the Newcastle steep slopes up from the river I was done. I left the youngsters to it and walked back to my hotel where I was asleep before 10pm.

    My favourite away day of the year.

  10. 10
    Bathgooner says:

    Thanks for the kind words, chaps.

    OM, it was indeed a pleasure to watch that match a second time without the tingling nerves and bitten nails and see aspects of the performance I had overlooked first time round. It will be some time before it’s deleted from the hard drive! Writing about that inspirational performance was a treat. The boys did us proud.

    Great stuff, C100. You did your job! To venture so far with the huge risk that you might have a long sad drive home shows huge commitment. You are a better fan than me, Gunga Din! I’m glad you had a great trip.

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@9: Wonderful stuff from a wonderful day. I am sure you slept with the sweetest of dreams.

  12. 12
    bt8 says:

    What Bath said in his last paragraph @10. I keep on looking at the away day crowd shots of the Arsenal fans on my tv but for somebodd reason they haven’t featured c100. Yet. 😁

  13. 13
    bt8 says:

    What Bath and Osaka said about Khashoggi.

  14. 14
    scruzgooner says:

    splendid, baff. so much how i saw it, including the interminable wait for the ref’s yellow. guimares could have been sent off if everything had been attended to. they really are a nasty team, stokecastle indeed.


  15. 15
    Goonersince54 says:

    Great report Bath
    Although I don’t understand all the fuss about the Ref being too lenient.
    If the players insist on play acting, falling over as if shot every time they are tackled, rolling around in agony, then getting up and running around like spring chickens without any sign of injury, then who can blame the referees, who, fed up with all the histrionics, these days in the main, seem to let most things go, and only give cards for the most blatant of fouls.
    Having said that, I thought Sunday’s game in terms of being over physical, was a Teddy Bears picnic compared to the bad old days, when visits to the likes of Ewood and Burnden Park, Plough Lane and the Victoria Ground, were spent not playing football but trying to avoid serious grievous bodily harm.
    Newcastle clearly set out physically to unsettle us, and in recent times given the snowflakes that were wearing our shirt, that game plan would have succeeded, but more than any game this season, this is the one that tells me we are now more than worthy of wearing Big Boys pants.
    Whatever happens in the last 3 games, we have already proved we belong back in the top echelon, and I’m already looking forward to next season.

  16. 16
    Ttg says:

    I’ve caught a little bit of Championship football and seen Auston Trusty look impressive for Birmingham . He looks promising enough to persist with as a squad option maybe in place of Holding . Lots of care is needed so that we have the right defensive options next season. Certainly there’s been a shift in the Zinchenko/ Tierney situation in my view. Zinny is a huge character but is he the best defensive left back we could choose ?

  17. 17
    Bathgooner says:

    TTG @16, No. he most certainly is not.

  18. 18
    Trev says:

    Thanks Bath, top notch report !

    Like Clive, I’m already looking forward to next season however this one ends. City start their two matches against Real Madrid tonight, so the pressure is maybe on them now.
    Also think TTG has a point about Zinchenko / Tierney. Zinchenko had great experience and character but does seem to tire quite quickly and start to give the ball away a bit too much in awkward positions. Other teams are noting the way he inverts and loading up our left side. Tierney does offer a bit more security. A perfect situation if we can keep both ….?

  19. 19
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks Bath for a terrific review,
    Trying to remember what Newcastle were known as before barcodes were even thought of – were they “big stripey lumps” then as well?
    It’s a shame that Brighton got thumped – I had hoped that we may be the ones to do that this weekend but that now suggests a tighter contest. Anyway, that’s for the future.
    For now let’s enjoy a solid win.

  20. 20
    Countryman100 says:

    After a day like that, after a game like that, it’s worth adding to Bath’s superb match report with a few thoughts from Mike McDonald.

    “One year later and 30 years ago”: Arsenal 2-0 History (Positives Needs & Hopes)

  21. 21
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@16: Trusty has been getting good reviews all term. Birmingham fans voted him their player of the season. The only snag with him replacing Holding as a backup is that he is yet another left-footed CB and would be behind Kiwior in the pecking order as Gabriel’s cover. Yet, as we have seen in the past two games, Kiwior appears to be more two-footed, so he can play on the right side.

    Regarding KT3, I would imagine the question is less whether we want to keep him and more whether he is content to remain in the role, to put it in baseball terms, of a long reliever.

  22. 22
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the away day special and the link C100 👍
    A great one to win for all sorts of reasons and I am still
    feeling good about it today

  23. 23
    OsakaMatt says:

    I must admit that I have never seen Trusty play but I did see he was voted Birmingham player of the season as Ned mentioned. We will need squad players until January at least so I can’t see any harm in keeping him around as we must have seen something to sign him in the first place.

  24. 24
    Trev says:

    I wonder what sort of car Austin Trusty drives – and is it really reliable ?

  25. 25
    bt8 says:

    Interesting contrast between Clive @15 and c100’s link @20. Since I agreed that the ref was far too lenient based on today’s refereeing standards I thought it worthwhile to highlight this from Mike McDonald: “For 94 minutes they were up against (a) referee that had been transported from 1993 after being cryogenically frozen for 30 years, and then showed up for his first match without knowing that the rules of football have changed. That you can’t use UFC moves in 2023. Newcastle were a team that had clearly been instructed to physically play over the line and intentionally try to hurt our players. If they weren’t instructed, then they weren’t stopped so it’s the same thing.”

  26. 26
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@24: A heavy one, as it is Auston.

    btw, Trusty is now a full USA international, having won his first cap in March.

  27. 27
    BtM says:

    A Bath classic. Colourful and entertaining report. The stuporous drug addled ball person a particular highlight. Outstanding performance overall.

    KT must stay. I’m happy to see Xhaka, Partey (or Jorgi), Holding all depart if there is half a chance Caicedo and Rice appearing in red next season. I’d rather see Nketiah leave than Balogun.

    On to 90 points please.

  28. 28
    Trev says:

    Countryman – a very enjoyable report from the front line.

    Away days do seem a lot more fun now than when I used to do them. Most times you took your life in your hands and spent most of the game dodging missiles of one kind or another. I once made a fortune at Villa Park in a cup tie against Liverpool with all the coinage that rained down on us for the whole second half.

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    More giant-killing than Jack and the Beanstalk in the first ever first round of the HolicsRopeyLeague Cup last weekend. This weekend sees the quarter-finals and
    as no washed-up celebs forked up the £500, a Mr. Rando Malgorithm, has already
    made the draw…
    Good luck to one and all…..

  30. 30
    bt8 says:

    Matt indeed speaks the truth @30. Here, in easily digestible format, are the:

    HolicsRopeyLeague Cup
    Round of 16 Results

    £5.00 Licensing fee 39 38 Kentish Vikings
    Depressedtosuccess 58 32 Mucking Muckers
    Gooner Be Better 37 31 Wylham F.C.
    Uplys and downs 44 38 Lonestar Gooner FC
    Los Tejas Gooners 45 25 ultimate sheep
    Polonia Bytom FC 44 35 Mortal Goonbat FC
    High Bar and The Mikelin Stars progressed with byes due to their GW34 scores

    Quarterfinal Matchups (to be played this weekend)

    High Bar v. Polonia Bytom FC
    Los Tejas Gooners v. Depressedtosuccess
    Gooner Be Better v. Uplys and downs
    The Mikelin Stars v. £5.00 Licensing fee

  31. 31
    bt8 says:

    In one way or another it looks like those quarterfinal matchups will feature an impressive array in the Goonerholic pantheon.

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks bt8, looks like ultimate sheep were lambs to the slaughter…..

  33. 33
    bt8 says:

    A wonderful article by Layth Yousif of The Gooner about the links and bonds between three generations of Gooners in his own family. My personal thanks to Layth for re-publishing Bath’s and C100’s outstanding reports on the Newcastle game.


  34. 34
    bathgooner says:

    I’ve just spotted the HolicsRopeyLeague Cup. Is this the first year of this competition? As Matt observes, there’s been a hell of a lot of giant killing in the best traditions of the FA Cup!


    bt8 @33, that is indeed a lovely article. Thanks for the link. I would otherwise have missed it as I did the last round of the HolicsRopeyLeague Cup!

  35. 35
    Goonersince54 says:

    Very important win by the Arsenal Ladies this evening with a 4 – 0 win away at Brighton.
    This gets us back into third spot which is the final CL qualifying place in the WSL.
    We are ahead of Man City on goal difference, and also have a game in hand.
    It’s imperative that the Ladies play in CL next season, which like the Men, will aid in recruitment in the summer.
    Our fate is in our own hands with 3 games left to play.

  36. 36
    TTG says:

    Good point Clive
    We importantly have a significantly better goal difference than Man City .
    The crucial weekend comes when we play Chelsea and United play City. If United beat City it becomes very difficult for City. We play Everton before that game and if we win it we’ve a good advantage and the Chelsea game becomes a free hit . The big problem would come if City beat United .
    Eidevall has done a great job with our horrendous injury problems and if we’d reached the Champions League Final it would have been a brilliant achievement

  37. 37
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Wonderful stuff Baff. I’ve been busy the last few days and when I glanced at it I saw it was a long one, so I’ve waited until I could give it my full attention. I am glad I did, there is not a word wasted there, a magnificent effort and exactly what I saw.

    Top effort from C100, and lots of excellent drinks too. Cheers all.

  38. 38
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    In general, I agree with Clive that it would be good to see refs clamp down on playacting and let the game flow. Unfortunately, they do not do that and I cannot agree at all with this line…

    (Refs) “these days in the main, seem to let most things go, and only give cards for the most blatant of fouls.”

    There are countless examples all season of refs giving cards for nothing. As ever, it is the inconsistency that is makes a mockery of their role, and they have only themselves to blame for that. The idea that we should suddenly get on board with a freeflowing reffing performance in a game when we were kicked and elbowed all day without any sanction is somewhat beyond me.

  39. 39
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Noose. When I was growing up I remember Newcastle still being called the Magpies, which I rarely hear these days. And Toon Army, obviously.

    I don’t remember hearing Barcodes until more recently. It is a funnier name, and I do love its irony. There is no club more perfectly suited to a nickname that has capitalist ethos and practice baked right in.
    Indeed, we have seen that, like anything with a barcode, they can undoubtedly be bought.

  40. 40
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


    Not noose. My autocorrect has committed a hanging offence there!

  41. 41
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Jorginho has paid for himself already. And he seems like the kind of guy who adds a lot off the pitch to a young squad. That is looking like better business every day. Its especially pleasing that, after going for youth and trying to avoid the horrible mistakes of buying seasoned (washed up) pros from clubs whose willingness to let them go should have been a warning, we have returned to that pool and done a much better job landing a fish we wanted, not scavenging for whatever bloated carcass drifts up on shore.

    Some of those deals were fishy indeed.

  42. 42
    Goonersince54 says:

    In other good news for the Ladies,
    Beth Mead is ahead of schedule in her recovery from ACL operation, and whilst probably still an outside chance of making WC in July, she won’t be far off for start of new season.
    There’s been no recent update on Viv Miadema, but given her injury happened not long after Beth, hopefully we will get some good news on her progress as well.
    As for the CL chase, as long as we beat Everton and Villa, it won’t matter what City do as they only have 2 games left, and as mentioned our goal diff is superior.

  43. 43
    bathgooner says:

    A great flight of drinks there, GSD. A beverage of your choice is on the bar, sir.

  44. 44
    TTG says:

    A very sensible piece from She Wore today
    Arsenal do not need a bigger squad for Champions League football
    It makes the key point that we need better quality options not more bodies. Signing Elneny/ Holding level players isn’t the answer. You need a squad you can rotate between the Premier and Champions League . He doesn’t mention the implications for top youth players . We’ve seen Rico Lewis come through at the Emptihad but you aren’t going to be able to transplant five or six bright Academy boys into the first team squad .
    I’m a bit dubious about the notion but it would be good to have a relationship with a Championship or more likely a foreign side side whereby you could blood young players and oversee their development more closely than the current loan system allows . But seeing it from the junior side’s perspective it radically affects the identity of their club . We will probably see a lot less Sakas and Smith- Rowes coming through in future

  45. 45
    Bathgooner says:

    TTG @44, I thought Keenos’ argument was well made and I must say he convinced me. However you are correct in your identification of the downside for youth players coming through. Your suggested affiliation with another club is an excellent solution and far better than the Chavs’ approach of sending their youth far and wide. There must be a mid-level club in Germany, France or Belgium that would welcome a relationship with the Arsenal leading to a regular stream of talented academy products and input from the Arsenal academy and trainers?

  46. 46
    North Bank Ned says:

    Multi-club ownership, especially a flagship club/feeder clubs model, clearly benefits owners in acquiring and developing young players and provides scale efficiencies in running the clubs involved, one of which is to boost the value of sponsorships through group-wide commercial deals.

    The benefits for the game overall are less clear-cut.

    Mainly, multi-club ownership raises questions of competitive integrity when owners can have multiple teams in a competition and provides scope for ‘in-house’ transfers and loans that can assist, shall we say euphemistically, with compliance with financial fair-play rules. Multi-club ownership will further concentrate ownership in the hands of wealthy investors to the detriment of the local ownership/identity of clubs (such as it still is).

    For all these reasons, controlling multi-club ownership is prohibited within domestic leagues and severely restricted by UEFA, with the tacit support of the EU, in line with its view of football as a cultural asset as much as a business.

    That all said, multi-club ownership is growing. UEFA will eventually and cack-handedly, no doubt, become more accommodating to it.

    The Kroenkes own multiple sports teams in the US, including a (soccer) football team (from which we bought Auston Trusty). I expect our owners are already looking for opportunities to expand their portfolio, especially now that Stan’s massive SoFi stadium and entertainment complex in California is all but done.

  47. 47
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A magnificent read Bath! The game did deserve a report like this. Thank you.

    It was likely the most matured performance by the team this season, though may not have been the smoothest. The silk-and-steel balance was just right and we handled their various attempts at decapitations (thankfully failed) with grace and cunning in equal measures. The astute timing of Mikel’s substitutions — a bit more proactive than his typical patterns, though there have been matches like United at home where he used early subs to great effect — helped significantly in maintaining the control over the game.

    Ødegaard was magnificent, especially in the first half. Jorginho providing a more conservative cover from the deep, and Jesus dropping down to midfield allowed his starting position to be a bit higher than usual and the Toon midfield was chasing shadows trying to mark him.
    And that was a mischievous masterclass from Xhaka in how to derail the opposition’s game plan while pretending to be on the verge of a meltdown himself. His impressive late career evolutions — tactical and psychological— are a testament to Mikel’s leadership qualities as well as the immense potential for change all of us carry within us in any stage of life.

  48. 48
    Gooner_KS says:

    Starts deep in his own half with an exchange with the keeper, passes on to midfield maestro

  49. 49
    Trev says:

    Twisty McNoscore lays off a trademark pre-assist for ……

  50. 50
    North Bank Ned says:


  51. 51
    Trev says:

    Don’t mention it, Ned !

    Ah, you didn’t !

  52. 52
    North Bank Ned says:

    Cheeky monkey!

  53. 53
    bathgooner says:

    Disappointing news that Saliba (not unexpected) AND Zinchenko are out for the season from Ornstein in the Athletic.

  54. 54
    bt8 says:

    Dr. F., Is that what Xhaka was doing, “pretending to be on the verge of a meltdown himself”? I could have missed it but otherwise I might have thought you are building him up into something of an evil genius. The mischievous masterclass part I can agree with, and didn’t lose control this time so all credit to him.

  55. 55
    Trev says:

    Given that we have 2 out of the last 3 games at home, I’m quite happy for Tierney to come in and add some pace and overload to our attacking left side. Zinchenko has been giving the ball away a bit too much lately, and in some difficult situations. Maybe that is in some way down to his injury but that and his drop off after the hour mark has caused us some problems. Tierney and Martinelli going wide around Caiceido and Mac Allister might not be the worst idea to really stretch Brighton’s midfield.
    I think we will need a more conventional left back at Forest too as they like to attack from wide down their right wing but don’t have such a strong central midfield.

  56. 56
    TTG says:

    Many of us felt Arteta made a great substitution by bringing on Tierney at SJP. It now appears Zinny was injured and indeed will miss the rest of the season- the third significant absence he has has . Food for thought given the enormous asset that Tierney is

  57. 57
    bt8 says:

    The price of Tierney’s stock seems to be rising in the bar. Come on Kieran.

  58. 58
    North Bank Ned says:

    This is not Zinchenko’s fist calf muscle injury by any means. He had similar injuries when he was at PSV and at Man City.

    My 2 cents on the shape change that his absence enforces is that Jesus plays deeper to make the fourth member of the midfield ‘box’ — Jesus, Ødegaard, Xhaka, Partey/Jorginho, rather than Xhaka, Ødegaard, Zinchenko, Partey/Jorginho — which then allows for a more classic Martinelli/Tierney, Saka/White pairing wide with Xhaka, more withdrawn than in his recent advanced 8 role providing cover when Tierney advances.

    Trev makes a good point that that could be more impactful against Brighton, who deploy wide wingbacks. It will certainly be the way to play Forest as Brennan Johnson on the right is the main threat with his pace so we don’t want to leave room for him to run into behind.

  59. 59
    bt8 says:

    Well spoken by Thomas Partey on the importance of having a good and harmonious squad:

    “I’m really happy for him” – Partey welcomes Jorginho competition

  60. 60
    bt8 says:

    15: The smallest possible points gap between Arsenal and Tottenham at the end of the season

    33: The largest.

    Fixtures remaining

    Brighton home
    Nottingham Forest away
    Wolves home

    Aston Villa away
    Brentford home
    Leeds away

    The gap being 24 points currently, I’m expecting it to grow to at least 26 by season’s end, and I wouldn’t be surprised by a gap of 30, a nice round number to be sure.

  61. 61
    TTG says:

    Another interesting chart this time from 7 am kick off .

    Ramsdale: average modern era keeper

    It analyses the best goalkeepers in Europe . Interestingly Bernd Leno is no 2 . Ramsdale is no 91 . The author makes some important, illustrative points .
    I will refer to Ramsdale in my end of season review but it does suggests he can be wonderful ( Spuds , Liverpool, Newcastle ) ….or make some howlers ( Southampton , Man United . But isn’t that true of all keepers ?

  62. 62
    Doctor Faustus says:

    NBN@58: I am quite certain Zinchenko has never played this many minutes in a single campaign for city, and some of his defensive lapses in the last few weeks I will put down to drop in his recovery speed and general fatigue. As you said, a more up-and-down the flank fullback with high quality defensive nous may work out well in our benefit as the season ends, though Tierney himself when plays can sometimes be spotted in the Zinchenko like inversions, if not as nomadic ally as the Ukrainian captain.

    I wonder with Tierney on the outside if we would see more of ESR either for Martinelli or for Xhaka as a sub in the remaining matches.

  63. 63
    Sancho Panza says:

    Wouldn’t be completely against the realms of possibility that Zinchenko makes a miraculous recovery and starts on Sunday.

  64. 64
    North Bank Ned says:

    TTG@61: A great deal of care and caution is required when interpreting the PSxG+/- statistic. It should not be used as a standalone to rank the quality of goalkeepers. To my mind, 7am kickoff is misinterpreting it (although, fair play, he caveats his comments) by suggesting that the base stat, PSxG, is a measure of whether an average goalkeeper would stop a particular shot. It is more a measure of whether that particular shot scores on average. It is a subtle but important difference, an indication of the quality of the chance more than the keeper. Another missing element in aggregated stats like PSxG+/- is the context of the game for any one particular save. How many times has Ramsdale kept us in a match by pulling off a big save when the score was 0-0 or 1-1?

  65. 65
    North Bank Ned says:

    Dr F@62: Fair point about Zinchenko. This is the first season in which he has played in more than 20 PL games, 27 so far. As for overall minutes in all competitions, he has just topped 2,400 mins. He played just under that number in two of his last three seasons at City.

  66. 66
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks for the link TTG.
    To be honest I basically forgot about the goalkeeper article after reading through – anything that tells me Leno is No 2 in Europe and Aaron is no 91 is not really relevant for me.
    I read the summer transfer business one though, Tim would like a reserve keeper, a RB/RCB, a DM, and possibly a right wing. And a big statement signing.

  67. 67
    bathgooner says:

    OM sums that exercise in statistical onanism up for me. Anyone who has watched their games will recognise that Leno and Ramsdale are both excellent goalkeepers but that the latter commands his box somewhat better and is far better with the ball at his feet. An analysis that rates those two individuals as this one does has as much validity as one that ranks musicians by the size of their feet.

  68. 68
    Trev says:

    TTG @61 – there are lies, damned lies and statistics, me old chum.

    I haven’t read the article and frankly, my dear, l don’t give a damn. I have eyes instead of a wall chart full of statistics, and I know who I want in goal.

  69. 69
    Trev says:

    Bath @67 – 🤣🤣🤣

  70. 70
    Trev says:

    Ok, so I’ve now tried to read the article but, oh dear …. It’s a pretty stupid table followed by some pretty stupid comments. It’s a shame because at the beginning of the morning my own xG ( expected level of Grumpiness ) was very low, but now …..

  71. 71
    bathgooner says:

    For the avoidance of any doubt and as confirmed by an ancient episode of the revered Eurovision Song Contest, Sandie Shaw tops the aforementioned ranking of musicians. Make of that what you will.

  72. 72
    bathgooner says:

    Best use of xG i’ve seen, Trev. 👏👏👏

  73. 73
    bathgooner says:

    There’s now an outcry against game management by letting the clock run down in deadball situations. It’s an outcry that we know is long, long overdue but occurs now principally due to the Sports Hacks noticing the successful implementation of that strategy by the Arsenal against a Newcastle side that has previously shown itself to be masters of that dark art. It’s refreshing to read an article recognising that the successful management of the clock in that game is another important step in the development of this young Arsenal team:


    Haters gotta hate.

  74. 74
    Trev says:

    Was our game management in any way as extreme or distasteful – faking head injuries -,as Newcastle’s ? Certainly not.

    Anyway, Eddie is backtracking fast today and saying his team need to do whatever is necessary against Leeds. So the demands for constant, total football didn’t last long. I thought he was quite ridiculous in the week – a lot of respect gone here.

    Just one question: Eddie HOWE ?

  75. 75
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bath@73: It is the hypocrisy of it all. Arsenal plays by the rules, and we are soft and naive; do what every other team does, and we are evil cheaters.

  76. 76
    bt8 says:

    There are those who are saying Arteta should have brought in Kiwior for Holding a few games earlier, and maybe they have a point but what is past is past. It’s better forbusbto focus on what we can control, and thinking positively, to give thanks that in the last couple of games we have been able to find out that the young Pole is one tor the future, and what’s more we can rely on him in the present. Another sign that Arsenal is on an upward trajectory.

  77. 77
    scruzgooner says: