Saturday, January 26, 2008

Arsenal vs. Newcastle: Match Review

Arsenal emphatically defeated Kevin Keegan's Newcastle in the FA Cup Fourth Round to dim memories of an embarrassing defeat at White Hear Lane. The Gunners won 3-0 at the Emirates thanks to a second half brace from Emmanuel Adebayor and a late own goal from Nicky Butt. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that his team can repeat the victory when Newcastle travel to London to face Arsenal in the Premier League on Tuesday.

Arsenal: Jens Lehmann, Gael Clichy, William Gallas, Philippe Senderos, Justin Hoyte; Abou Diaby, Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky; Emmanuel Adebayor, Theo Walcott

Newcastle: Shay Given; Claudio Cacapa, Steven Taylor, Jose Enrique, Stephen Carr; Nicky Butt, James Milner, Charles N'Zogbia, Damien Duff; Michael Owen, Alan Smith

Arsenal started brightly, nearly snatching a fifth minute lead after a long ball from central defender Philippe Senderos. The ball fell just ahead of Cesc Fabregas who was unable to generate enough power at full stretch to beat Shay Given.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was then forced into an early substitution as Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky limped off the field in the 9th minute to be replaced by Croatian striker Eduardo.

The highly offensive lineup left Arsenal susceptible to counterattacks, and Newcastle nearly grabbed the lead after a quarter of an hour when Alan Smith saw his shot cleared off the line by the head of Gael Clichy.

The French left-back was active at the other end soon after, forcing a save out of Shay Given after curling a goalbound effort from the corner of the Newcastle penalty box.

Given, who was kept busy all night, was forced into a near post save from Eduardo after a defensive error Stephen Taylor let the goal poacher into the 18 yard box.

Arsenal were beginning to pressure the Newcastle defense, with Emmanuel Adebayor heading just wide and Abou Diaby forcing an acrobatic save out of Given before half time. The Magpies managed to hold the game level at 0-0 until half time and looked a far better side under Kevin Keegan's management.

They could do nothing to stop Adebayor's first goal in the 51st minute, though. Eduardo made himself some space on the edge of the penalty box and sent a curling shot against Given's post with the keeper well beaten. Newcastle's defenders failed to clear the ball and Adebayor powered the ball into the left corner to grab Arsenal's 100th goal at the Emirates.

Newcastle were not yet beaten though, and Michael Owen thought he had won his side a penalty when the ball looked to have been flicked up onto Senderos' arm in the box. Referee Martin Atkinson waved play on though, and it was Arsenal who would once again score as the game began to open up.

Adebayor showed a huge amount of class to hold off two defenders and draw Shay Given out of goal. The Togo striker, who has already scored 16 league goals for Arsenal this season, finished brilliantly with a low shot past last man Steven Taylor.

Arsenal were already in the fifth round with a 2-0 lead, but Nicky Butt granted the Gunners a third goal when he headed into his own net after a Cesc Fabregas free-kick. The third goal was harsh, and Newcastle fans will feel that the scoreline did not accurately depict the nature of the game.

Nonetheless, Arsenal will be high on confidence going into Tuesday's important league fixture against Newcastle, and look to be getting back on track after a disappointing loss to Tottenham last week.