A tough one to take for Toon fans, with Andy Carroll and Ciaran Clark impressive yet ultimately at fault as missed chances and late errors were punished by Arsenal in extra time.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with ours marks out of 10:
Dubravka – 8* – (“Dubrovnik” if you’re Danny Murphy)….A safe pair of hands for two early shots from range and did well to parry away a powerful shot from Aubameyang in the first half. Came up trumps when called on in the second half too, clawing Willock’s goal-bound header wide of the post and tipping over a brilliant extra-time volley that would’ve flown in without his touch. Kicking was mixed on his first start of the season but that aside he made three big saves in normal time and could do little about both their extra time strikes.
Krafth – 5 – Was done for pace by Tierney a few times, with him struggling to get close to the marauding left-back. Could’ve easily been booked for a few cynical fouls as Arsenal broke, too. OK in possession but beaten too easily defensively and unable to offer much in attack. Replaced by Murphy with 25 minutes to play.
Hayden – 7 – Played on the right side of our three-man central defence and made a brilliant challenge to deny Pepe as he burst into the box. Rock solid for most of the game in a position he rarely plays, with his decent turn of foot and good reading of the game helping him come across on the cover to help out Krafth and Murphy. Did his best to make up for Clark’s error moments before their Smith-Rowe’s goal, but was caught out of position as Aubameyang tapped in to make it 2-0.
Lascelles – 5 – Booked early on for a heavy mistimed challenge on Nelson; who was about to get down the left after beating him for pace. A few strong defensive headers from balls into the box but was caught in no mans land at times as Arsenal played a few rings around him. A rusty display on his return, with him taken off at half-time.
Clark – 7 – Made several vital clearing headers and got himself in the right place at the right time on several occasions, but will be furious with himself for giving the ball away in a bad area just seconds before Arsenal scored. One good early ball into the box that Carroll very nearly latched onto and had more touches than any other player in the first half, but it was his presence in defence that stood out. Brave, calm and very good positionally, but his late error knocks him down from an 8 to an 7.
Dummett – 7 – Played far higher up the pitch than we’re used to seeing, starting in a left wing-back role. Allowed Arsenal to get in behind him a few times and struggled with Pepe early on, but still managed a few important headers and blocks. Looked much more solid from the second half onwards when shifted to left-back in a four-man defence.
S Longstaff – 6 – Put in a shift and played one very good ball in behind in the 90th minute that got Murphy in behind to set up big chances for Anderson and Carroll, but moments like that we few are far between as we lacked a consistent stream of creativity from him and Hendrick.
Hendrick – 5.5 – I’ve seen him have worse games for NUFC, with him a little tidier in possession than he has been at times, however he didn’t always offer enough. Often played it safe, with his only major contribution in the final third was a scuffed shot that felt to Carroll, and he was sometimes slow to react defensively.
Almiron – 6 – Couldn’t fault his energy and effort levels, with him tracking back well on several occasions and closing down throughout, but he was cautious and hesitant in the final third and did very little to hurt a Gunners side. Didn’t lose the ball much and put in a real shift, but needs to use his pace to better effect in attacking areas and stop going backwards.
Joelinton – 4 – Frustrating to see him play out wide again after he’s proven his best position is in that No 10 role, but it was another unconvincing display from the Brazilian. Got into a good position early on after robbing Arsenal in a good position, but his resultant run lacked decisiveness or conviction as a promising attack fizzled out – a moment that summed up his lacklustre night. His touch let him down too often, he chased shadows when Arsenal attacked down his side and he didn’t make good enough runs the odd time we broke forward. Aside from one sharp pass infield to Almiron, I struggle to remember him offering anything of note in the final third.
Carroll – 7.5 – Showed more battle than any other player in black and white, although he offered more defensively in his own box than he was able to at the other end in the first half. Was a real handful in the second half, however, working his socks off at both ends. Headed one half chance wide, smashed a powerful effort from the edge of the box at Leno and then missed the best chance of the game after latching on to a mishit shot from Hendrick….only to slide the ball wide from six yards! Had another huge opening in the 90th minute, having a shot smothered by Leno after Anderson’s deflected effort fell to him. Lasted the game well, held up the ball effectively and was a menace in both boxes – but couldn’t be any higher than a 7 after two big misses! Our man of the match on another day but it wasn’t to be.
Ritchie – 5 – Far too many poor deliveries, with several crosses from the left overhit and a few of his corners woefully under hit. Really frustrating when our most likely route to goal was an Andy Carroll header! Would’ve given him a 4 if it wasn’t for a few decent defensive headers and one superb block to stop a powerful shot from Pepe in extra time.
Murphy – 6 – Struggled to contain the brilliant Tierney, allowing the Scot to put in a few too many crosses, however he did look more able to carry the ball forwards than Krafth and won a few free kicks. Set up that big double chance for Anderson in the 90th minute and put in a good ball for Carroll in extra-time, but switched off to let Tierney in again for their second goal.
Yedlin – 5 – Replaced Almiron with 10 minutes to play and was immediately beaten by Tierney – who very nearly set up Willock to score. Loose in possession with a few heavy touches or wayward passes.
Anderson – 7 – The 18-year-old local lad replaced Joelinton with 10 minutes to play to make his senior debut for Newcastle United. Showed some confident touches and quick feet, looking happy to carry the ball or release it quickly if the pass was on. A quietly impressive cameo!
Gayle – N/A – Replaced Carroll as we headed into the final 15 minutes of extra time. Went down for a potential penalty but the referee waved it away.