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Young stunners set the standard

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DAVID Rozehnal emerged from his battering at the Emirates Stadium this week scared by how good Arsenal’s youngsters had been as they dumped Newcastle out of the Carling Cup in the third round.


Rozehnal was expecting a tough game in his first test against the Gunners, but he was stunned by the ability of a team which, while not short on top-flight experience, was little more than Arsenal’s second string.


Arsenal had nearly 20 attempts on Newcastle’s goal on Tuesday night and could have won by far more than their 2-0 margin had it not been for some quality Newcastle defending and an excellent performance by Shay Given in goal.


But the Czech international believes Newcastle should not be too despondent after the defeat as he predicted manager Sam Allardyce would try to replicate Arsenal’s success at St James’s Park.


“Arsenal are scary, I think that’s fair to say,” said Rozehnal, who was reluctant to hide behind a tiredness excuse, despite the fact the Magpies had to play two games in 48 hours when they travelled to north London. “They are doing such a good job with so many young players, they totally changed their team and they still played better football than us. I saw it a couple of years ago as well when they played Sparta Prague in the Champions League. They also went there with a second team and won the game well.


“We expected a tough game even if they didn’t play with their first team and we got one. They have so many good young players coming through, their squad has so many options. They showed last season that they could play and they are doing the same this season. Newcastle are trying to build something similar. You would have to speak to the coach about his plans for the future, but he is looking to make Newcastle into a force. He has only just begun that job, but Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for many years.


“We are looking for these types of players to come in. It’s not just about the Premier League, it’s about producing your own players and bringing them into the first team so that you have a big squad. Arsenal have that. The Premiership is the toughest league in the world and you need to have a big squad to play in all the games.”


Allardyce was furious at having to face Arsenal so soon after Sunday’s win over West Ham, but Rozehnal believes Arsenal’s quality, not tired Newcastle legs, were ultimately to blame for the defeat.


He explained: “We didn’t play such a good game at Arsenal, but we defended well for 80 minutes and we had a couple of chances. If we had taken those it would have been different. It was a demanding schedule and the first time for me. But I felt good before the game and during the game. I was tired after the game, but – and I can only speak for myself – it wasn’t because of fatigue (that we lost), it was because of (their) quality.”


Despite the deflation of another cup exit, Rozehnal has also urged United to build on an encouraging start to the season in the Premier League. Allardyce’s side lie fifth and a win over Manchester City on Saturday would lift them above Sven-Göran Eriksson’s side who occupy second spot.


Rozehnal added: “It was a disappointed dressing room after the game, but we have to remember that we have had a good start to the season in the Premiership, we are fifth and if we beat Manchester City on Saturday we will go above them. We are out of the League Cup which we are unhappy about, but hopefully we will be better against Manchester City.


“They have had a good start to the season and Sven-Göran Eriksson has done a good job. But if we beat them we go above them and that is what we are aiming to do.”


Rozehnal’s performances at the heart of Newcastle’s defence have been a major plus, even if some question his aerial ability. The former Paris-Saint Germain defender is pleased with how he has settled into English football. “I’ve adapted fairly well. I feel good in the team and I’m enjoying the Premier League, but I’m always looking forward and I still have big progress to make. I will become a better player for the team.”


Arsenal are scary ... They are doing such a good job. They totally changed their team and still played better football than us

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Rozehnal’s performances at the heart of Newcastle’s defence have been a major plus, even if some question his aerial ability


He's poor in the air for a big lad. He was dominated at Derby by Howard, and won very little. Dean Ashton and the average Carlton Cole gave him a bit of a shake-down on Sunday, too. I'd put the header against Arsenal down to tiredness.

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I remember seeing how weak Vidic and Evra looked in their first season at OT. I personally thought neither would adapt properly to the Premiership, but Vidic is a fucking animal, and Evra is still only young.


If Rozy/Cacapa/Beye/Enrique can grow/adapt to the league we might have a cracking defence. They'll only get better IMO, and I'm going to give them all the benefit of the doubt this season as they adjust to it.

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