football.londontakes a look back on the talking points from the Gunners 0-0 draw with Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League
Mikel Arteta Has His Say On The Two Penalty Shouts Vs Newcastle
If we’re looking at the talking points from this tense 0-0 affair at the Emirates on Tuesday then there’s nowhere else really to start other than the penalty shouts. It’s worth saying firstly that this game was being played in a particularly heightened atmosphere thanks to a refereeing performance that lacked control.
In attempting to stamp his authority Andrew Madley inadvertently ended up making a rod for his own back. A soft yellow card for a foul by Eddie Nketiah caused the Emirates to bubble over it’s boiling point and from that point on each decision was hotly contested by players and fans alike amid a cauldronous cacophony of noise.
It was perhaps this that led Mikel Arteta to label both penalty decisions that went against Arsenal on the night as “scandalous”. “Both of them,” he went to add when asked if he held more of a grievance for one over the other. “It’s not particular. It’s a penalty or not a penalty and these are both penalties.”
When he looks back on the late handball call that wasn’t given, the Spaniard may feel slightly differently. Granit Xhaka ‘s cross did hit the hand of Jacob Murphy, but it was from such close range that it would have been extremely harsh to give it as a penalty. Eddie Howe exchanged heated words with Arteta over the incident but probably summed it up fairly by saying “I think if it was the other way round I’d be shouting for it, probably not with the belief it should be given because the distance is too tight.”
The shout prior to that though is one where Arteta has every right to be furious. As Martin Odegaard floated a free kick into the box, Dan Burn, who had lost his man after some clever blocking by Xhaka that had surely been worked on with Nicolas Jover on the training ground, yanked Gabriel ‘s shirt halfway off his shoulder preventing him from getting to the ball.
On a night where Newcastle hardly put a foot wrong defensively this felt like one slip up that could have been decisive. Arteta was hopping around the touchline like a flea after the officials failure to give the spot kick, and you can see why. Under Howard Webb, who has recently taken over as the chief refereeing officer at the PGMOL, is trying to encourage a more stringent use of VAR, but like with all things there is a balance to be struck.
Gabriel took to social media to echo his manager’s indignation after the game, tweeting a video of the incident with a simple face palm emoji. It was a night blighted by frustration with officials, but this was perhaps the one that will infuriate Arsenal the most.
Eddie is ready
He may not have made it three in three, but Tuesday night was another good one for Eddie Nketiah. The concern with the 23-year-old was never about what he could do in the box but what he could do in the build up to it. With every passing game he’s pouring water of those flames of anxiety.
Newcastle are the Premier League’s toughest nut to crack, but with smart movement, drifting out to the left, dropping deep and also stretching in behind, Nketiah was one of the few rarely able to get through. This is exactly what we’ve become accustomed to seeing Gabriel Jesus do this season, and the Hale Ender’s displays have ensured that the absence has not been too keenly felt.
But at what point does it start to become disrespectful to keep mentioning Jesus each time we assess Nketiah? Mikel Arteta wanted different options from his strikers and the two’s differences are what make this Arsenal squad so exciting. By his own admission, Nketiah is looking to do far more than just a Jesus tribute act during this run he’s going to have in the team.
“We’re all gutted that he’s injured because he’s a big part of the team,” he told reporters when asked about filling the undoubted void the Brazilian has left behind. “But I’m not trying to replace him and I’m not trying to be him. I can’t do what he does and he can’t do what I do. We’re different players but at the end of the day we both want to help the team. Whether it’s me or him, we both support each other. I wish him a speedy recovery and hopefully I can continue to help the team.”
Perhaps the biggest piece of flattery we can give Nketiah is that he has earned the sense of ease that comes with seeing his name on the Arsenal team sheet. He may not have taken the game’s biggest chance after a sublime save from Nick Pope, but Nketiah has shown in his own way what a valuable asset he is to this Arsenal squad.
Arteta makes transfer promise
One thing that was painfully apparent as Arsenal struggled to burst the dam of the Newcastle backline was the lack of reinforcements they had to do so. With Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson both out for a while and Emile Smith Rowe not quite ready to return, the only forward options that Mikel Arteta had available to him from the bench were Fabio Vieira and under-23 starlet Nathan Butler-Oyedeji who only celebrates his 20th birthday this Wednesday.
While Vieira may rightly feel a bit miffed about not even being asked to warm up towards the end it was telling that Takehiro Tomiyasu was the only change Arteta felt comfortable making. “We were chasing the goal, we were in a good moment and I didn’t want to make any more changes,” he said in his post-match press conference when asked to explain the lack of subs. The reality though was something different.
If Arsenal are to sustain the title challenge they’ve built up for themselves then reinforcements can’t come quick enough. In fairness to the Gunners they are trying and have submitted a second bid for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhaylo Mudryk, but as things stand Arteta’s call for early January transfers look set to go unanswered.
While there are certain other managers in north London who might be inclined to use this is a reason for a disappointing result, Arteta was defiant in promising that efforts were being made to improve the squad as soon as possible. “That’s something more for Edu and the board to respond,” he told football.london when asked whether earlier additions might have helped on the night. “We are really trying to improve the squad in every window. We’re trying to do our best because we cannot waste any windows still with the squad and the numbers that we have. We will try.”
As things stand though the Gunners squad is limited. You would expect changes against Oxford on Monday, but one, or maybe even two of Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli will probably have to play in that match. The former in particular looked to be tiring towards the end of Tuesday night’s clash which is hardly surprising given his efforts at the World Cup in Qatar. He needs help and the sooner Arsenal can get it to him the better
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