Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal: A dismal end to a game we started strongly – Benitez got it wrong

Despite a promising start and a decidedly average Arsenal performance, we slipped to yet another defeat – with a late header from Ciaran Clark being too little too late after goals from Xhaka and Ozil early in the second half.

What’s so frustrating is that we actually did well in the first half. We didn’t create many chances and our lack of quality meant we failed to make the most of our dominance, but considering many were underwhelmed by Rafa’s team selection (picking Joselu, Hayden and Murphy over Rondon, Shelvey and Kenedy) I was pretty happy with what I saw going into the break.

The second half was abysmal, however. We’d worked hard in the first half to keep ourselves in the game and were competing well, yet we let that slip immediately. We switched off, we stopped pressing, our intensity disappeared and some even started looking uninterested late on – even though a goal would’ve changed everything.

Benitez will get criticism for his team selection, but my biggest issue lies with his substitutions today. It’s easy to say in hindsight, but I was surprised and disappointed not to see either Rondon or Shelvey come on. Kenedy is so low on confidence and that showed and it didn’t feel like Muto knew where he was playing when he came on.

Arsenal looked pretty frail at the back, meaning Rondon could’ve had a field day, and we were crying out for Shelvey given our lack of creativity.



Here’s what Rafa’s had to say after the game:

“It’s very clear that the first half, we doing really well. It’s something I was expecting because we wanted to press & show this determination to win the game but everything changed with the early goal in the second half & when you want to react you concede another goal.”

“I am not concerned because I know my team really well. We have been close. Now we have to make the difference in the final third.”

On the plus side, I was very impressed by Federico Fernandez once again, but that’s now four games against the league’s ‘top six’ in our first five games and four 2-1 defeats. All marginal, but all defeats.

Ironically, our worst performance of the lot was probably away to Cardiff – a game we would’ve won if Kenedy put that last minute penalty away.

Next up is Palace away – a slightly more ‘winnable’ game perhaps (being a welcome break from the league’s ‘top six’), but one that won’t be easy at all.

It feels like it’s going to be a long, hard season but we need to stick together now – it will get easier, but we need to be much better than we were in the end today.

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

121 thoughts on “Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal: A dismal end to a game we started strongly – Benitez got it wrong

  1. Oh I agree with Stu, no doubt. I just mean at the time of purchase, Ashley’s mindset was not let’s make NUFC the side it once was – let’s try and bring back ‘the entertainers’ days to SJP. It was more a case of, buy a PL club, hoy aload of SD signs up and let the lads run it (Wise and his goons). Then I’ll pop up on a weekend, neck a few pints and smash an all you can eat on Stowell Street. That side of the plan fell on its arse when he quickly realised he bought a club with deeply passionate fans who had certain expectations – it’s difficult to ignore 52k when you’re sat amongst them.
    But the advertising hoardings and jobs for the boys was still draw enough to keep the club – and perhaps still is, or is it the debt owed to him that he’s no prepared to write off. Probably more than just one thing, but it’s definitely not a hobby, or fun anymore that’s for sure.

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  2. oh how i wish that group at m/c had bought the toon,owner is saying the club is now running in profit but job is only half done and there is a lot more money to spend 😥 😥 😥

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  3. icedog:
    oh how i wish that group at m/c had bought the toon,owner is saying the club is now running in profit but job is only half done and there is a lot more money to spend

    Ice – I’d settle for any buga who give half a sh*te about us mate. Those that have bought Wolves seem to have a plan as well.
    I watched their game yesterday and couldn’t help thinking it was a Championship fixture – Wolves v Burnley. But the fact is Burnley have been a more established PL side than us and are playing European footy this season. Wolves are a team very much on the up. I don’t expect them to challenge the top 4 any time soon, but I don’t see them being a yo-yo club like us either.

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  4. The fans should make a big deal protest around the new Flannels shop opening on Northumberland Street. I saw all the advertising on Saturday for them at SJP. In fact start now before it even opens. Flannels – the new Sports Direct discount store!

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  5. More disappointing news that the club are allowing Longstaff and Woodman’s contracts to run down in their final year. Get your finger out Charnley!

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  6. Sharpy17: Stu – for SD it was an advertising hoardings, but for him personally it was a hobby.Don’t you remember at the beginning of his tenure, he was sat wearing a replica strip with Smith on the back, downing pints with the fans?.

    He wouldn’t have bought NUFC if he didn’t own Sports Direct. Sir John Hall said he bought it off him to enhance Sports Direct. If it was a hobby he didn’t go to many games even when he was popular. Abramovitch’s purchase of Chelsea – now that’s a hobby buy. In a hobby you invest time and money. Jabba has done neither.

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  7. I’m not even sure he ever really saw it as anything other than a business transaction. He literally from day one started his penny pinching. There was a sell to buy policy in place as soon as he arrived.

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  8. Sharpy17: Dubai – I’ve never said he was crap, but I have said he should be in the first team.His heads not in it and I think Rafa is forcing it a bit in a hope it brings him round.I know his options are limited with Shelvey and Ki out, but Hayden should be left out to get his head sorted.For me playing Longstaff who would have that desire and passion would be a better option.

    I wasn’t targeting the comment at anyone Sharpie, give said before myself that he was crap… just correcting myself I guess. … is that a sign of madness? 😂

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  9. Stuart79:
    I’m not even sure he ever really saw it as anything other than a business transaction. He literally from day one started his penny pinching. There was a sell to buy policy in place as soon as he arrived.

    Spot on mate, was giving KK the runaround from day 1 he came back.

    As for Flannels, well; very apt from a guy or speaks a load of it.

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  10. Andrew Heatherington‏ @APHeatherington

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    Great work from @bigchrisholt on the blog. Most ridiculous statistic I’ve found so far – in today’s age of worldwide PL coverage and exposure – #nufc commercial income is lower now than in 1998. But that’s what happens when 95% of the adverts visible at SJP are free of charge.

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  11. Kim, one look at the accounts shows commercial revenue is less than twenty years ago. It’s staggering!

    What’s also remarkable and the more I think about this the more remarkable it keeps getting, is that the owner refused to allow the club to spend their own money, which they earned by staying in the PL because the manager wouldn’t sign a new contract. Let that sink in…

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  12. Couldnt really see the purpose of protest outside sd if thats all there was, buf integrated as part of a concerted campaign .. well you never know

    Can’t lose the image I have of tv cameras in pubs rockin full of toon fans wearing sports dire wrecked shirts before a game and then cutting to the stadium which is empty.

    Use social media and supportive celebs correctly and link up with the players before the game and you never know whats possible.

    and leave Ashley’s sycophantic media clowns to spout their bile and ignore it

    Dreamin?? May be but it’s more entertaining than the footy at present

    Stuart79: Firstly it’s important that we continue to protest outside their stores. We need to do it every away game too. We also need to keep SD in the media in a negative light. Remind people how badly run it is and it’s Victorian style of employment. On line protests are good too. We should absolutely use match days that are on tv as a platform. Flags with derogatory slogans on them about SD. SD t- shirts. They can’t take them off you if that’s all you have on. I’d also ultimately boycott games on tv too. Everyone just stay outside with huge flags about the shame of SD. Tv cameras would be there and that would be the biggest story. The result and match would then be irrelevant. He would hate that.

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  13. if it’s all about watching a game with mates, then do it, but do it in a pub full of fans, you still get to have your bit of footie and craic with friends just not in the stadium. If it’s on tv it’s the perfect chance to leave the stadium empty.

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  14. If there’s a protest at the next live game and that protest is a boycott it will be perfect if supporters just stood outside the ground with derogatory Sports Direct shirts and flags ect… It would be the kind of publicity Jabba hates and it would get world world coverage.

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  15. So the story goes Jabba is prepared to accept nearer £300m for the club in order to push through a sale. It’s a bit of a coincidence that these kind of stories always come out when there’s protests. He must think we’re stupid. We’ve got to keep the pressure on until he’s gone.

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  16. Stuart79:
    So the story goes Jabba is prepared to accept nearer £300m for the club in order to push through a sale. It’s a bit of a coincidence that these kind of stories always come out when there’s protests. He must think we’re stupid. We’ve got to keep the pressure on until he’s gone.

    totally Stu, he pulls that stunt every time, wearing a bit thin now.

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  17. Kim, if he’s serious then PCP’s offer could be accepted and the deal agreed today. There’s a reason why it’s not going like that. He’s pissing down our backs and telling us it’s raining!

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  18. We’ll probably never know but there’s a suspicion that Ashley makes enormous profits from NUFC. That stadium advertising for 11 years. SD profits from shirt etc sales and the overall profile raising effect for SD. He’ll never sell.

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  19. georgio:
    We’ll probably never know but there’s a suspicion that Ashley makes enormous profits from NUFC. That stadium advertising for 11 years. SD profits from shirt etc sales and the overall profile raising effect for SD. He’ll never sell.

    Exactly that, Rangers get just 4p from every £10 spent on merchandise.
    let that sink in, the guys a leech and a crook.

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  20. Why do you think our revenue has dipped so alarmingly since he bought us. He needs investigating.
    I’m not saying SD shouldn’t get a cut of profits for handling, shipping but in regards to Rangers, the club getting just 4p in every £10 is nothing short of criminal. I dread to think what Toons cut on merch sales is.

    No wonder SD are in profit and able to buy HOF.

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  21. The problem is Kim it’s small beer in the capitalist world. Amazon, Apple, Google etc etc.
    I can’t think of one good reason Ashley would want to sell.

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  22. georgio:
    The problem is Kim it’s small beer in the capitalist world. Amazon, Apple, Google etc etc.
    I can’t think of one good reason Ashley would want to sell.

    agree

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  23. georgio:
    We’ll probably never know but there’s a suspicion that Ashley makes enormous profits from NUFC. That stadium advertising for 11 years. SD profits from shirt etc sales and the overall profile raising effect for SD. He’ll never sell.

    Whatever benefit he’s got from SD’s association with NUFC is hard to quantify but he has certainly benefited. Although I’d suggest he’s probably hit peak benefit and now it really means very little to SD. The profit from sales of club merchandise ect is much easier to quantify and I’d say that’s probably the only positive he currently gets from owning NUFC. When he does sell I’d be surprised if he didn’t want to maintain that hold on retail sales. The question then is, why would anybody want to buy a club where the potential revenue is restricted…

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  24. He’s still got the advertising for his beloved SD and that’s all he ever wanted. No reason at all to sell unless we’re kicked in the teeth again with another relegation.

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  25. I think we would need to take two relegation hits in a row to prompt him to sell up
    We’ve dropped twice now and he just throws cash at it in a bid to go straight back up, increasing his loan at the same time. In the end he needs PL exposure on tv for his tat ads, he’ll accept a season, possibly two in the championship to get that exposure back but I don’t see him wanting us in league one.

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  26. Mark Douglas Retweeted

    TimesBusiness‏Verified account @TimesBusiness · 8h8 hours ago

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    Patrick Hosking: “Mr Ashley is in danger of sounding like a petulant infant who thinks shareholders have a duty to him”

    This is exactly what I said yesterday on here. He is the very definition of a manchild.

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  27. Funny how the journos never mention the money these days. Fun 88 money? Player installments? PL money? Sky money? Player sales? Added together it’s a vast sum and all of it was denied to Benitez to sign decent players. Instead there were two loans and a feebie. So where is that money bearing in mind we’re already earning it all again right now? Vast amounts!

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  28. Georgio If Mike Ashley is serious about selling the club and thats a very if by the way, I’d like to think the fun88, player sell’s, merchandise, season ticket and sky money has all gone towards reducing the loan. However you’d have to be a complete idiot to believe that lowering the price for a potential new owner.

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  29. Apparently Rafa is having a transfer meeting with Charnley and Nixon shortly. Why? Just why? It’s like being a vegetarian in a meat market.

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  30. and has been for a week. I was staring to believe my computer had gone funny.

    Looks like we should be a lot stronger tomorrow. Hopefully that means no Hayden, Joselu or Murphy although Rafa loves a surprise. Those three though are absolutely dreadful.

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  31. georgio:
    and has been for a week. I was staring to believe my computer had gone funny.

    Looks like we should be a lot stronger tomorrow. Hopefully that means no Hayden, Joselu or Murphy although Rafa loves a surprise. Those three though are absolutely dreadful.

    Georgio – yeah Rafa says they are all fit and available other that Lejeune, which I think is the first time so far this season. But for me, that left wing spot is still up for grabs for whoever wants it.

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  32. I love Rafas press conferences. When he’s asked about his contract talks he says – it will be after the January transfer window … of course it will be!!.
    But the bit I love is him saying ‘I’ve been talking to the fans around the town and they understand the situation’. I can imagine Ashley fizzing and spitting when he reads that – STOP TAKING TO THE F*CKING FANS MAN!! YOU’RE ALL CONSPIRING AGAINST ME!!.

    I have visions of King John in the Disney animated version of Robin Hood – sucking his thumb and asking for mummy 😂

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  33. The team sort of picks itself apart from Number 10. Perez seems a bit off-form and I am not sure if Muto is integrated into Rafa’s tactics/has adjusted to PL football. I think he will probably start with Perez.

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  34. Even though the team almost picks itself there are still issues:

    Kenedy: people are saying he is a confidence player. He sort of has to start. The alternatives are Murphy and Atsu who haven’t shown much either. Maybe Muto, who supposedly can play on the wing? Give Kenedy and Perez a half and be prepared to switch at half time and let Muto have a chance for whoever is continuing their bad form.

    Hayden: his head is somewhere else and he should be somewhere else. I wouldn’t even pick him as a sub.

    Joselu: this has to end now. I hate to pile on with criticism of a NUFC player but he doesn’t really do the job that many people say he does. He doesn’t hold the ball up well because his first touch is not good – the ball usually bounces away from him. Then, he might hassle defenders but he hardly ever wins the ball. Again, I hate to pile on but we have seen enough now haven’t we?!!!

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