Saturday 25 February 2017

Walcott woe underlines Gunners worry

Luke Edwards

Chancel Mbemba of Newcastle United and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal compete for the ball
Chancel Mbemba of Newcastle United and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal compete for the ball
Francis Coquelin of Arsenal in action
Aleksandar Mitrovic (2nd R) of Newcastle United is shown a red card by referee Andre Marriner (1st R)
Theo Walcott reacts after missing a chance during Arsenal’s victory against Newcastle

It was a narrow away victory that reinforced Arsenal's need for another striker and a defeat for Newcastle United that underlined concerns about the temperament of Aleksandar Mitrovic, their new centre-forward.

Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 1

It is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about either side given that Arsenal made hard work of beating 10 men and Newcastle were confined to a damage-limitation exercise following Mitrovic's dismissal in the 16th minute.

Nevertheless, Arsenal should have won far more convincingly and Newcastle cannot continue to hide from the fact Mitrovic is becoming a disciplinary liability. Their supporters are desperate to love the Serbian, but he has not scored a goal yet and killed his team here.

The Gunners had the chances to score more, before and after the Newcastle centre-back Fabricio Coloccini diverted Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's shot into his own net early in the second half, but neither Theo Walcott nor Olivier Giroud impressed.

Walcott has always argued he is best deployed as a centre-forward, but he did nothing to suggest that here. Tim Krul was quick to come off his line before half-time, blocking Walcott's first chance.

However the second miss, also in the first half, was a shocker. Having failed his audition, Walcott was replaced by Giroud.

The Frenchman, however, was just as bad. He shot wildly over from a tight angle when he should have passed, before failing to beat Krul in a one-on-one situation.

Giroud looks short on confidence, which is inevitable when everyone knows that Arsenal want to replace him, but he should be fighting for his place. The win was all that mattered to Arsenal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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