Say What

Published: Saturday December 28, 2013 MYT 7:30:00 AM
Updated: Friday December 27, 2013 MYT 6:38:19 PM

Hitmen wanted at Emirates

After the tough match against Chelsea, Arsenal are in for another torrid time when they visit Newcastle on Sunday night. - AFP

After the tough match against Chelsea, Arsenal are in for another torrid time when they visit Newcastle on Sunday night. - AFP

ARSENAL are back on track. It looked like another missed chance when West Ham grabbed the first goal but Arsenal dug deep to come from behind and beat their London neighbours in their Boxing Day match.

This is more like it. Their resilience is the big difference for Arsenal this season. Now all they need is more hunger. It is funny how even when the core of Arsene Wenger’s team has become more English and German, it has not lost its French insouciance. If they had showed an iota more urgency and desire, the Gunners could have scored at least three in the first half against West Ham!

They’ll definitely need to play with more pace and tempo against the new French team in the Premier League tomorrow night up on Tyneside. Newcastle United is showing more ambition this season, and will be driven by more than Arsenal’s scalp to beat them. They have also been bagging the goals, scoring 15 goals in their last 16 league games - five against Stoke City in their Boxing Day match.

Arsenal in contrast have been struggling to find the back of the net in the last few games. The reason is obvious – they need another striker to take off the pressure off Olivier Giroud who does seem a bit worn-out despite his doggedness.

Many Gooners are hoping they will get someone who is more clinical in front of goal, another Thierry Henry, Ian Wright or even, gasp, RVP.

For now they have to rely on their midfield to grab their chances.

Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott showed on Thursday that they are raring to get back into the thick of things while Jack Wilshere will return after his two-game suspension for a middle finger gesture at the Manchester City fans.

But with the league being so tight, goal difference might be the game changer at the end of the season: Manchester City who is one point behind Arsenal already have a 32 goal difference, compared to Arsenal’s 18. Emirates’ resident bad boy Nicklas Bendtner, regardless of his recent commendable performance against Hull City, will just not cut it.

The Arsenal are shaking at the thought of him coming in for Giroud on New Year’s Day when they play Cardiff City, or any other game – he’ll be likely to soon!

But those who are still reeling at how Arsenal lost their Christmas top spot to Liverpool should keep this statistic to heart – when they won the league in 1998, 2002 and 2004, Arsenal did not top the table at Christmas.


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