Let me start by saying how delighted how I am with gaining a point against Arsenal. Although it was marred by the controversy of Joey Barton and Gervinho. Whilst watching the game there was plenty of positives that bode well for this season.
Coloccini put in a man of the match performance throughout the game. He dealt with many balls that the opposition sent in and carried the ball out of our penalty area. Captain Colo even advanced further up the pitch on a couple of occasions which showed that he has the ability to use his attacking abilities when he gets further forward.
There was something different about his defending in this game, he seemed to have worked on his play and seems to have become a better player over the summer. Along with this the partnership with Steven Taylor looked very solid and they seemed to have a very good understanding with each other. They managed to read what Van Persie was up to all throughout the game and kept him at bay.
Steven Taylor had a very solid game too. I was very impressed with the performance that he gave throughout the game. He looked very comfortable alongside the curly haired Argentinian and seemed to deal with Robin Van Persie very well. Their partnership looks set to blossom throughout the season and they seem to have worked on playing with each other together during this year’s pre season.
Gabriel Obertan looked very lively when he came on at half-time. I knew he had pace but my my my I was surprised by how fast he could actually run. He looked to improve how the team played, he was sort of given a free role and he looked very lively whenever he was on the ball.
Obertan also tracked back to help out Simpson several times, dispossessing Arsenal when they were looking threatingly upon our box. He also seems to have a tremendous leap on him which was demonstrated when long balls were floated their way over to him. He certainly will have a point to prove and he has a great opportunity to show the Newcastle faithful what he can do. There’s more to come from this lad
There were moments in the game where we nearly strung the right passes together. One of them being when Cabaye was played through by Obertan. Frustratingly they always seemed to come up short in some way. However I have confidence that when these group of players keep playing together the passes will come more naturally to them and we will have a very exciting team on our hands, they just need time to gel.
Although there were positives in the game there were a couple of places were the side may have to improve.
Joey Barton several times left Simpson exposed, he drifted in too far infield leaving the right-back vulnerable to attack. I think if he is set to play there for a while then he needs to understand that he needs to cover the positions in front of his right-back.
Leaving those huge areas exposed is an immense gift to any attacker, Barton will have to work on that area of his positioning. At some times I felt Barton was trying to do Cabaye’s role when he wandered his way into the middle of the park. Barton needs to know his role for future games of the season.
The same could be said for Simpson himself, at times he dealt with the Arsenal attackers well but at other points he fell back into the clutches of his old habit: backing off the attacker allowing them more time on the ball to pick out a teammate. If Simpson learns the basics then he will be a very a stable right-back for us this season.
Tiote to me didn’t look 100% match fit; he seemed off the pace during the majority of the game but still managed to put tackles in so that the Arsenal attack didn’t break through. I’m sure a week of full training will be able to sort his fitness out but if not why not give Gosling a chance after he performed so well in pre-season?
I think there was plenty for us to take out of the game and once the team settles down then we look to have a very exciting team for this season. Along with this the return of Hatem Ben Arfa will surely boost the team as well. When the team start playing regular football together with the added addition of a left-back and a striker then our side looks like one that could do well this season.
Next week could be an exciting weekend for the Toon Army with the first derby of the season occurring. Howay the lads!