A torrent of second-half goals saw us claim a big victory against Newcastle United on Sunday.
Here are some of the key talking points from the win:
PEPE’S PREMIER PERFORMANCE
In the lead up to this game, Mikel Arteta had been quizzed extensively by the media about Nicolas Pepe’s first season in England – and how we can get the best out of him. Whatever work has been going on behind closed doors is starting to pay off as the Ivorian delivered arguably his best performance in an Arsenal shirt. Aside from his goal and two assists, Pepe put in seven crosses, more than any player on the pitch, created four chances for his team-mates and won 53.8 per cent of his duels – trailing just Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. This was a premier performance from Pepe when we needed it most.
CEBALLOS THE ORCHESTRATOR
With much of the pre-match chat revolving around the inclusion of Eddie Nketiah for his first Premier League start, Dani Ceballos slipped somewhat under the radar. Arteta said afterwards that he was in the team as a result of his performances in training and he did not let his head coach down. Asked to assume Lucas Torreira’s deep-lying midfield role, the on-loan Real Madrid star constantly demanded the ball, taking 108 touches – the second most of any player on the pitch – and playing 91 passes, again second only to Granit Xhaka. His pass completion rate of 95.6 per cent was the best of any player, and he created three chances for team-mates, including one sublime pass for Aubameyang at the start of the second half. This was a timely reminder of Ceballos’ innate talent.
SAKA THE ASSIST KING
Wow, what a display. We should be used to seeing Bukayo Saka impress at the highest level, but this really was a stellar display in a season of outstanding performances. His outrageous nutmeg to set up Pepe’s goal – “we call that a little chilli,” he said afterwards – will gain most of the attention, but just as impressive was his near faultless defensive display up against the dangerous Allan Saint-Maximin. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that Saka is only 18 years old, and that he isn’t a natural left back – instead preferring the left wing. His assist for Pepe took him up to eight for the season – more than any player in the squad. He is a truly special talent.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.