x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Andy Carrol heading in the right direction

Off-field controversy only seems to inspire the forward as he scores the only goal of the game as Newcastle United beat Arsenal at the Emirates.

Newcastle's Andy Carroll outjumps Arsenal's Jack Wilshere during the Magpies' win at the Emirates Stadium.
Newcastle's Andy Carroll outjumps Arsenal's Jack Wilshere during the Magpies' win at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal 0 // Newcastle United 1

Newcastle United Carroll 45’

Red cards Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

Man of the match Andy Carroll (Newcastle United)

LONDON // Not for the first time this season, or indeed in his burgeoning career, Andy Carroll has been surrounded by off-the-field controversy.

Perversely it merely seems to feed the monster. Yesterday the Newcastle United striker produced another phenomenal display of power and panache to inspire a victory that lifts his team to the heady heights of fifth place and casts another doubt about the credentials of Arsenal as title contenders.

A fortnight ago, it was Carroll who led Newcastle to a 2-1 win at West Ham United. And last week, while Kevin Nolan struck a hat-trick to beat local rivals Sunderland, Carroll was also inspirational.

Allegedly, the pair and some of their colleagues partied rather hard in the wake of that win, according to one tabloid newspaper in England. Whatever they got up to, it hardly hindered their performance yesterday.

In fact, it was Arsenal's players who looked like they had been burning the candle at both ends. They were lethargic and uncharacteristically lacking in imagination. Newcastle were focused and full of running with Carroll leading by example from the front.

Surely Fabio Capello, the watching England manager, must now pick him for the friendly against France later this month. He was a constant threat when his side had possession, whether it was played up in the air or to his feet.

"What he showed today is the ability he's got," Chris Hughton, Newcastle's manager, said."Of course what he does have is the prowess in the air. But he showed also the running ability he's got.

"He's still learning the game, he's getting better. He's had his ups and downs and he gets bullied at times, all of these things, but he's certainly going in the right direction."

The goal - which came after Arsenal had dominated the first half with Cesc Fabregas hitting the bar - was all about Carroll's ability in the air.

A minute before half time, Newcastle worked a free kick beautifully as Joey Barton flighted the ball forward towards Carroll who made an immense jump to embarrass Lukasz Fabianski, the flailing Arsenal goalkeeper, and head home.

Theo Walcott rattled the bar, but Arsenal, like their winger, ran out of steam and ideas in the second half. Laurent Koscielny's red card for pulling back Nile Ranger, the Newcastle substitute, in the last minute, summed up their desperation.

Arsenal have now lost at home to two of the promoted teams - West Bromwich Albion beat them 3-2 in September.

"Before the game I said I have been encouraged how we have started the season, but I have to change that view now," Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said. "We lacked sharpness and didn't get out of second gear."