Arsene Wenger needs to buy three new players in the winter window, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is treading water and other things we learned from Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Wenger badly needs to strengthen flagging squad
Arsene Wenger took the unusual step of revealing at his pre-match press conference that he will “be busy, that’s for sure” in the January window. That was music to the ears of Gooners, who have seen a relatively thin squad get even thinner as a result of the club’s never-ending injury crisis. The case for refurbishment is even stronger after this highly fortunate one-goal victory. Arsenal were outplayed for most of the game but just about squeezed over the line. The team’s place at the Premier League summit should not cloud Wenger’s thinking. At least two new midfielders and one striker are needed for a side whose absence of options was once again highlighted by a weak bench as the team searched for a late goal.
Cech has lived up to his billing
John Terry delivered the ultimate compliment when he claimed Petr Cech could be worth 12 or 15 points a season to his new employers. To the goalkeeper’s great credit, he has shaken off the howler he made in his first Premier League match for Arsenal to live up to that billing. Once again, he made a series of crucial saves as Newcastle totally outplayed their gilded hosts, particularly when he denied Georginio Wijnaldum early in the second half. The 33-year-old is so experienced and assured it gives confidence to everyone around him. He has not been found wanting since his Chelsea switch.
Oxlade-Chamberlain at a crossroads
For a player of such rich promise, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s output is not merely disappointing. It is lamentable. The most damning of all is that he did not score or provide a single assist in the Premier League in 2015. True, he is not a nailed on first-team regular but he has had plenty of opportunities to become one. Now aged 22, the attacking midfielder must kick on in 2016 to demonstrate that he can become the player that even those of a non-Arsenal persuasion hope he can. Oxlade-Chamberlain had another quiet game against Newcastle and was replaced by Joel Campbell as the hosts searched for a goal. The Costa Rican currently looks a better option that the Ox.
Tiote and Colback show their counterparts up
Cheick Tiote and Jack Colback totally ran the midfield as they demonstrated why Wenger must beef up in the central area in the January window. Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey were frequently caught out of position as they poured forward in search of a goal and, but for outstanding displays from Cech and Koscielny, Arsenal would have paid the price for their tactical naivety. The sense is that Wenger is just about getting away with it at the moment.
Koscielny is the Premier League’s best centre-back
With Vincent Kompany spending more time off the pitch than on it, Koscielny has emerged as the outstanding centre-back in the English top-flight this season. The Frenchman was rested on Monday for the win over Bournemouth and he showed the benefit of a breather with a display that demonstrated his many qualities, not least his excellent reading of the game and the timing of his tackling. Koscielny also has a welcome habit of popping up with crucial goals, and his volleyed winner could prove one of the more important strikes in this season’s title race.