Date: 31st August 2008 at 2:41pm
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1.Manuel ALMUNIA– Another game that pretty much passed the Spaniard by, could have done little about Butt’s header. Made an impressive save from Owen, but the flag had already gone up. (A point that Sky and the BBC failed to mention in their highlights packages, how much do his PR people pay the media?) 7

3.Bacary SAGNA– Another rumbsutuous display from the consistent right back, ably teaming up with Eboue to cause havoc down Newcastle’s right. Dealt with the threat of Guttierez well when he switched flanks, but was slightly AWOL for Owen’s delighfully poor finish in the first half. 7

4.Cesc FABREGAS– Another metronomic display from Cesc, intelligent enough to play economically given his lack of fitness and allow Denilson to be the legs of the operation. Sets the rhythm with his passing and positioning, though he took a bit of a backseat to Nasri on this occasion. Once his match fitness returns the prospective partnership between those two looks tantalising. 7

5.Kolo TOURE– Easly dealt with the ‘threat’ of Michael Owen and moved forward to good effect too. Looked back to his pacy, energetic self. 7

8.Samir NASRI– Has struck up an instant understanding with his team mates, appreciating Clichy’s strengths and playing to them perfectly, coming inside and keen to get involved with play. He has a real intelligence in his use of the ball, which has told in his final product thus far in his Arsenal career. He tackles back well and his exchange with Barton proves that he won’t be bullied. I hope he can reproduce this away from home. 9

10.William GALLAS(c)- As with Toure, Gallas enjoyed a comfortable afternoon with Newcastle’s distinctly average strikeforce. Did what he had to do well and bought the ball forward with purpose on occasion. Should have scored in the first half. 7

11.Robin van PERSIE– Much, much more like it from Robin. Obviously words have been said by the manager, his work ethic was much improved as he pressed Newcastle’s defence. He dropped off to provide an outlet, allowing the likes of Eboue and Nasri to venture forward, linked well with his strike partner and helped himself to two goals. Early indicators suggest his injury was only bruising, which is a bonus if he keeps this form up. 8.5

15.DENILSON Pereira de Neves– Looks much more assured playing next to Cesc (who wouldn’t) and tracked back well, making some good tackles. That said his passing was still a little off and I wonder if the fact Song replaced him with twenty minutes remaining has future implications? 6

22.Gael CLICHY– I think I’m going to need a template for these for this season. Played with energy, rarely beaten in defence, and Guttierez gave him a challenge there, came forward with intent. An incident after the first goal where he ruthlessly hounded the ball down from his own half to Shay Given, covering about fifty yards in five seconds summed him up. 8

25.Emmanuel ADEBAYOR– The fans chanted his name from the start and he repaid the love with a display of energy, desire and quality. He gave the Newcastle backline a torrid time with his work rate and power. His touch appears to have improved this season, played with some joie de vivre, particularly in the first half when he ran the width of the pitch, beating three Newcastle players with exactly the same fleet footed trick. Involved in all three goals. 8

27.Emmanuel EBOUE– Industrious, skillful, backed up Sagna defensively, marauded forward with intent and, whisper it quietly, was even composed in the penalty area. Like Adebayor, performances such as this will go a long way to winning favour with the supporters. Has a good case for player of the season so far. 8.5

SUBSTITUTES

12.Carlos Vela– A nice situation for himto come into, impressed with his fleet of foot and willingness to be involved with the play. But looks a little too left footed at the moment, get that right foot in gear! Overall, it looked as though he could be a valuable commodity for us this season. As with Theo, his pace could be useful from the bench. 7.5

14.Theo Walcott– Some nice touches and linked with Vela well, should have scored at the end. 7

17.Alexandre Song Billong– Didn’t have much of a job to do defensively, but did everything he needed to efficiently. A good trait for a central midfielder to have. 7