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Cause for optimism or false start : What Arsenals opening game of the season tells us about the road ahead

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Arsenal traveled to Newcastle with a casualty list that would test the nerves of many a manager. So many automatic first choices were crocked for one reason or another, that the treatment room could have made a second string.

Unai Emery also had to contemplate those that may not be in his squad for very much longer including Mishap Mustafi and work shy Ozil, who may soon be looking at pastures new.

At least Emery has had a season in which he got his message across unlike professional failure, Steve Bruce. In fact, probably the worst thing for Newcastle is trying to get past the Mike Ashley ownership issues and the departure of the Geordies hero, Rafa Benitez which has left a heavy cloud hanging low over St James’s Park.

Bruce has had about as much time as his counterpart had to establish himself in the role and this may well play a part in Newcastle’s opening spell of the premiership.

READ MORE : Here Is What Arsenal Fans Should Be Expecting From Their New Centre-Back

By contrast, Arsenal fans headed off to Newcastle in a fairly buoyant mood, having seen a host of luxurious arrivals which managed to get fans chins up and saw them unusually optimistic.

The biggest surprise from Arsenal was the offloading of Alex Iwobi to Everton, who had become the odd man out in Emery’s future plans because of the dearth of wingers at his disposal.

For Arsenal it was imperative to get points on the board after Manchester City’s emphatic and stylish win over West Ham and dropping points early wasn’t an option.

So Arsenal rocked up to a wet Newcastle knowing that the home support was worth a two goal advantage and that despite a rollercoaster of a few months, a result would be hard to get.

It turned out to be a decidedly average and uninspiring first half for Arsenal, where both sides cancelled each other out and squandered limited opportunities. One lost count on the amount of sloppy passes and Newcastle surrendered the midfield area, allowing Arsenal to exert a degree of authority, even it it wasn’t reflected in a handsome scoreline.

People go on about possession like it’s an essential ingredient for winning a game, it isn’t. We’ve all seen games where dominant teams have come off second best in the final minutes of a game. I prefer goals to possession, try telling me 80% possession is better than a 3 goal advantage, because we all know it’s not.

Arsenal enjoyed 60+% in the first half and 70+% in the second but couldn’t find a way through. As for Newcastle, they couldn’t provide support for their attacking players which they will have to resolve soon unless they want more stop away fans than the 4,000 or so that protested for this game.

The contest was won by a single goal (58) with a excellent piece of theft from Maitland Nile’s on Willems. He knows only too well to look up for one of Arsenal’s advancing guns and found Aubameyang with a beautiful chip. The striker just applied his usual predatory finish over Dubravka.

For Arsenal, there were a few highlights and lowlights. Ceballos looked useful with some artistic flourishes, Pepe came on to give a small glimpse of what is to come and Joe Willock looked like the heir apparent to a permanent midfield role.

Ainsley Maitland Nile’s worked tirelessly, although there were a few touches he’d like to forget and Reiss Nelson is making progress to hold down a first team slot.

However, Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks like Manchester United’s revenge for a misfiring Alexis Sanchez. He did his claim for a starting position at Arsenal no good with his dubious touch, lack of control and general ponderous performance.

READ MORE : SHOCKING: Alex Iwobi Departs For Premier League Side

Nacho Monreal still looks far too slow for the premiership and once his replacement is fit and well, the Spaniard may have to look at a more central role. He just doesn’t have the legs and struggles to get back like he used to.

As a first game of the season for Arsenal, this game gives no indication of how the campaign will go. Arsenal need to find the right balance between defence, midfield and attack and Newcastle need a plan that prevents them losing these types of games.

Bruce would have been happy with a point to relieve the pressure but even survival in the Benitez style must seem some distance away.
There was some promise but not enough to suggest that the Geordies are not looking at another season with their heads in a noose on a three legged chair.

3 vital points for Emery but the training ground environment will need to rid the gunners of their rough edges. Arsenal can’t afford any early hiccups if they are to be included in the mix next year.

Draws have to become wins and loses need to be fashioned into wins or draws but the fact remains that Arsenal can’t afford more than 5 draws in a season, if they are to be in with a shout of a champions league slot. City and Liverpool are going toe to toe again, Arsenal need to bring their A game to the second tier at the top.

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Arsenal fans rage at Dele Alli goal vs Watford – ’VAR is a Tottenham fan’

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Arsenal fans could not believe Tottenham’s luck as they secured a late draw against Watford.

Ben Foster dropped the ball in the 86th minute and Dele Alli gobbled up the chance to snatch a point.

VAR checked the goal to make sure there was nothing wrong with it, and ruled it legal despite the ball appearing to come off the top of Alli’s arm.

Yet the big screen inside the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium initially read ‘No Goal’ which sent the Watford supporters into raptures.

However on the field, the Hornets were instructed to kick off and restart play.

It’s not the first time Tottenham have had to rely on VAR to spare their blushes.

Last season Raheem Sterling scored in the Champions League quarter-finals in the final minutes and thought he’d sent them through to the last four.

But VAR ruled out the goal and also did the same in the Premier League back in August when Gabriel Jesus scored in injury time against Spurs.

Arsenal fans were keen to point out today was not the first instance of Tottenham getting a decision in their favour.

“VAR is a Tottenham fan,” one fan tweeted.

Another said: “Once again Tottenham saved by the luck of VAR and refereeing decisions…

“It’s getting repetitive now.”

A third said: “Deulofeu should’ve had a penalty in the first half! That was a stonewall penalty! VAR is so biased especially towards Tottenham and Liverpool.”

Another wrote: “VAR helping Tottenham as usual.”

A fifth said: “It’s ridiculous how VAR keeps favoring Tottenham.”

Tottenham can also count themselves lucky they didn’t give away a penalty in the first half.

Jan Vertonghen appeared to trip Gerard Deulofeu in the box, but the challenge went unpunished.

Tottenham are up to seventh in the table while Watford remain winless.

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Man Utd boss Solskjaer questioned by Stelling as Arsenal comparison made – EXCLUSIVE

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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to start using his young talent, just like Unai Emery does at Arsenal.

That’s the view of Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling, who has seen United struggle at the beginning of the season.

Solskjaer’s side have won just two of their first eight matches and face table-toppers Liverpool on Sunday.

Solskjaer has looked short in attack though still only uses the likes of Mason Greenwood and Tahith Chong sparingly.

And Stelling believes Solskjaer, who only took over as manager last December, needs to back his young talent during his struggles as boss.

“Watching against Newcastle, I watched Solskjaer on the touchline and he looks a bit lost,” Stelling told Express Sport. “He looks like he’s as shocked as anyone else.

“Of course he says the right things but he looks as bewildered as anyone else and doesn’t know what the heck to do about it.

“You can argue that the players he has brought in have done well, so he’s in credit for that. But he doesn’t know his best side, that’s quite clear.

“He doesn’t know how to get the best out of Rashford, and not just Rashford.

“And even though he sings the praises of the young players, if he’s not starting Mason Greenwood, when they’re in a run like this, when is he going to start them?

“Even letting Sanchez and Lukaku go, he still will not put the kids in from the start.

“I just think there are so many mixed messages, are they good enough or are they not good enough? There’s only one way to find out.

“Arsenal are doing it, for different reasons, but they are putting their kids in and it’s paying dividends. From a United perspective, they’ve got nothing to lose.”

Manchester United host Liverpool at 4.30pm on Sunday.

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Watford striker Danny Welbeck goes down injured after just 55 SECONDS against Tottenham

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Watford striker Danny Welbeck goes down injured after just 55 SECONDS against Tottenham as the former Arsenal and Manchester United man’s fitness woes come back to haunt him

  • Danny Welbeck went down with an injury less than a minute into the game in N17 
  • He signed for Watford on a free transfer with hopes of playing regular football 
  • But he is now set for a spell on the sidelines in what could be another ankle issue
  • Fans have called on the player to retire with injury problems plaguing his career 

Watford forward Danny Welbeck strengthened his injury-prone reputation after he was forced to come off against Tottenham just 55 seconds into the game.

The former Arsenal and Manchester United star has struggled with fitness issues for a majority of his career but a fresh start at Vicarage Road gave him hope of putting those problems behind him for good. 

Danny Welbeck goes down injured under no challenge as Watford's physio's give treatment

Danny Welbeck goes down injured under no challenge as Watford’s physio’s give treatment 

But any optimism Welbeck had turned over a new leaf were immediately quashed less than a minute after kick off when he went down with no one around him at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. He was replaced by Gerard Deulofeu after briefly being attended to by medics.

Welbeck missed much of the 2018/19 season for Arsenal, with an ankle injury ruling him out for six months, and its possible the problem has now resurfaced.

The 28-year-old has made three starts for the Hornets this season after signing on a free transfer from the Gunners this summer.

He is ushered off the pitch as his injury problems come to light in yet another league season

He is ushered off the pitch as his injury problems come to light in yet another league season

He is ushered off the pitch as his injury problems come to light in yet another league season

Welbeck has a history of fitness woes and missed six months for Arsenal in the last campaign

Welbeck has a history of fitness woes and missed six months for Arsenal in the last campaign

Welbeck has a history of fitness woes and missed six months for Arsenal in the last campaign

It had been hoped he might be able to chip in with goals to boost Watford’s charge to stave off relegation, but he is now set for a spell on the sidelines. 

And football fans have been quick to poke fun at Welbeck given his history with injuries, with some urging him to retire.

One user pointed how Welbeck sustained his injury without any contact from an opposition player, while another said he should consider ‘calling time on his career’.



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