Post Match Review
Ramsey’s enduring brilliance a reminder of what Arsenal are going to miss
Liverpool‘s dramatic, last-gasp victory over Tottenham Hotspur had set the stage. Arsenal only needed a victory against Newcastle at the boisterous Emirates to go third in the points table. A goal from captain Aaron Ramsey, who played a captain’s game and another from Lacazette in the second half helped Unai Emery‘s side to a dominant 2-0 victory against visitors Newcastle United.
Until the 82nd minute, Arsenal had led by a single goal. A goal from Newcastle would have been a decisive blow to the hosts but the visitors didn’t seem to be anywhere near finding that. Then came the goal from Lacazette, putting the game to bed as substitute Pierre Aubameyang set him one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
However, it was Aaron Ramsey who was the true hero for Arsenal. In midfield, the Welshman was dominant. He combined well with his teammates and circulated the ball everywhere. He did his defensive duties whenever the situation warranted, surged upwards whenever the hosts broke a Newcastle move. At the Emirates, Ramsey was a delight to watch, exhibiting a leader’s performance, guiding his teammates. The 28-year-old played 73 passes with 93.2% accuracy, delivered five accurate long balls in the night.
Ramsey plays a captain’s game
Aaron Ramsey found an early breakthrough for Arsenal in the 30th minute. Guendouzi had passed the ball to Ramsey, who quickly flicked it to Lacazette, a quality pass that it actually confused the Newcastle defenders, forcing them to concentrate on merely thwarting the Frenchman. By the time the ball fell back to Ramsey, there was no one to stop him. He had a goal denied in the 13th minute for a needless foul by Sokratis but here was unstoppable; a perfectly-placed, low-shot rolled past Dubrvaka into the net, sending the Emirates stadium brimming with joy.
Later in the game, Ramsey again demonstrated his class and vision with a beautifully crafted pass for Özil in the extra minute of the first-half. Although the former Real Madrid midfielder couldn’t finish it, he passed the ball to Kolašinac, who played it to Lacazatte, but the Frenchman’s shot was saved off the line brilliantly by Ritchie.
Ramsey was at the heart of everything Arsenal did in the game until he was replaced by Elneny in the second half. The midfielder tracked back to win balls, put in tackles to dispossess Newcastle from the ball. Ramsey was inspiring, reminding the Emirates audience the mistake their club has made. Here he was unflinching, displaying no signs of a player who has already penned a contract with Italian behemoths Juventus. His performance posed – poses – a question – a big question – that Arsenal don’t have an answer yet. Who’s going to replace this 28-year-old midfielder who the club didn’t deem worthy enough of a new contract?
Mesut Özil shines brightly
Let’s not forget the mercurial Mesut Özil. At times he looked sloppy, explaining why Unai Emery tends to drop him in big games. Against Newcastle, Özil demonstrated flashes of his brilliance. Some of his passes were exquisite, his dummies left the Magpies flat-footed.
There was it, in the 72nd minute, a presentation of what Mesut Özil can do. The ball Guendouzi had intercepted fell to Özil, who took a touch or two, before threading a well-executed defence-splitting pass to Aubameyang but the Gabonese international could not send drive it past Dúbravka from a difficult angle. Throughout the game, Özil did what he does best; leaving the opponents chasing the ball with his dazzling moves.
Ten minutes later, Arsenal sealed the game after Lacazette had lobbed over the Slovakian goalkeeper. The duo that has on numerous occasions pulled Arsenal out of danger combined to produce the goal. Aubameyange’s header found Lacazette one-on-one with an onrushing goalkeeper and the Frenchman simply lofted it over to seal Arsenal’s victory.
At the final whistle, Arsenal were back at third in the Premier League points table. A feat that looked improbable has been achieved, thanks largely to their North London rivals and neighbours Tottenham Hotspur, who now have to play their home games in the newly built awe-inspiring stadium fighting to ensure they play Champions League football next season. Amidst all the celebration and excitement, the first 67-minutes were a reminder of what Arsenal are going to miss next season; Aaron Ramsey.