Saturday, December 29, 2012

Arsenal 7 - Newcastle 3

This was a thrilling, end-to-end match notable for poor defensive efforts on both sides. Fortunately, Arsenal displayed deadlier firepower on the offensive end. Theo Walcott was particularlly brilliant today, scoring three goals (the third of which was a brilliant solo waltz through Newcastle's defense), set up a fourth, and still find time to squander one or two other clear-cut chances. Olivier Giroud, who came on as a second-half replacement for the excellent Oxlade-Chamberlain (scorer of the first goal of the second half), had no trouble getting into the flow of the match, scoring two central striker's goals within his first five or ten minutes on the pitch (and striking the post towards the close).

If Walcott could only bottle today's form and become a more consistent player and goal-scorer, I'd urge Wenger to overturn the club's wage structure and open the bank book for him. I'm still not convinced, however, that Walcott is the center forward of Arsenal's future. Admittedly, he has been playing better in recent weeks, since Wenger moved him to that role. He now Arsenal's leading goal scorer on the season.

This is arguably the toughest time of the season for the Gunners, who have now won three league matches on the trot. They are starting to play their best football of the season and (knock on wood) avoiding injuries. Fourth place now looks a realistic possibility. Arsenal still could use another striker, a defensive midfielder, and a left-sided defender, if quality players at those positions are available during the January transfer window. But the Gunners' near-term future is looking much much brighter today than it did a few weeks ago.

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