I think someone needs to remind Steve Bruce that Arsenal were 11th in the Premier League and bang out of form going into today’s game at St James’ Park.
Instead, the NUFC boss has defended our display by insisting it’s “always going to be difficult” when you come against these “big teams”.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Bruce also praised the players work rate and attitude, saying he “couldn’t fault” the ‘effort’, ‘endeavour’ and ‘commitment’ they showed.
They had stepped up in recent weeks, helping us move nine points clear of safety ahead of today’s game, however that was a pathetic performance, with us failing to show up against one of the poorest Arsenal sides we’ve ever seen and looking like a side already on their summer holidays throughout.
Here’s what Bruce had to say after the game:
“The better team won.
“We weren’t at the level we have been at in the last few weeks.
“We recovered at Liverpool last week but we gifted them a goal after four minutes.
“It is always going to be difficult against these big teams.
“I couldn’t fault the effort and the endeavour and the commitment of the players,”
“We simply weren’t good enough on the day to beat them.”
This was also an Arsenal side who’d made eight changes after playing in Spain little over 48 hours ago, yet they spent most of the game in cruise control as if they were up against 10 men.
Bruce then said this to the BBC when asked about Fabian Schar’s red card, claiming his challenge on Martinelli was a booking at best:
“The way it is at the moment and the rules are, there’s no tackles anymore,”
“I don’t think it deserves a red. Maybe it’s a yellow.
“Is it dangerous? Not really.
“We’re playing Arsenal so you have to get into them. When that stops it becomes very difficult.
“I have sympathy for Fabian Schar. He tries to win the tackle.
“Maybe a yellow card but certainly not a red.”
Sadly, it’s become a theme for Bruce to talk up the opposition – not matter how average they are – and set low standards when it comes to our own level of performance.
No wonder Jonjo Shelvey gets in the team every week if he thinks our effort levels were spot on in this one!