Newcastle United vs Arsenal, 4-4: Full time analysis and player ratings
Written by Chris on February 5, 2011 21:30
This is not easy and hours later I still cannot believe how we let Newcastle produce such a comeback, a record in the history of the English Premier League.
But, the hours I spent trying to wake up from this nightmare allowed me to properly assess the game and reach one conclusion: things in football are to change and are to change quickly because if sad individuals like Joey Barton are still allowed to step on a football pitch, then I’m afraid this is no longer a “sport”, it’s no longer football, but it’s something I prefer to avoid.
After the game, in the chat room, I was upset and blamed Abou Diaby for not taking all three points back home this afternoon. I was wrong, and I understand many will just say that I defend Abou through thick and thin but I kindly ask you to rewind the tape of the game, stop it on minutes 47:10 and 52:30 and come back here telling me with a straight face that you wouldn’t have done the same.
Make no mistake, this doesn’t mean I accept the draw with a big smile on my face because if Joey Barton commits a terrible foul on Andrey Arshavin in the 47th minute, gets away with it and you see Abou Diaby racing to get his revenge which could have easily been a red, then I’m afraid you have to wonder what our manager told his player at half time.
I mean, Abou looked like one who simply could not accept Barton’s behaviour out there so our manager, with us comfortably leading the game by four goals to nil, had to make a move to avoid the unavoidable. He didn’t and we paid the price. Football is all about taking the right decisions at the right time and Arsene saying “Abou was too nervous in his reaction” after the game doesn’t help.
To make things worse, when the unavoidable did happen, Johan Djourou had to be replaced and the tenacity, never-die attitude and composure we showed only days ago against Everton were all gone. Laurent Koscielny committed a foolish tackle in the penalty box to give Newcastle hope in the 68th minute, Gael Clichy yet again demonstrated how poor he is in the air minutes later and from then on, it was all too easy for the Magpies.
The home side had a fair goal ruled out for offside and went close to register a major shock when a Kevin Nolan effort went inches wide but that would have been harsh on us.
To conclude and to wrap up, things are no longer as bright as they were days ago. Abou will serve a three-match ban for violent conduct, Johan Djourou could be out for a week or two and I’m more than sure Cesc Fabregas will have a word or two to say to Abou after the game. All I know is that recovering from this will not be easy although Manchester United’s defeat will surely ease the pain.
As always, whether you agree with my ratings or not, submit your own at Arsenal Interactive and make sure to share them on Twitter and Facebook.
Match Video Highlights
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Szczesny: 7 – A virtual spectator in the first half, superb in the second as he produced fine saves/blocks in the 55th, 72nd, 75th and 77th minute. Unfortunately, all this was not enough.
Djourou: 7 – Made sure to keep Newcastle at bay in the first half and scored with a well-taken header. I doubt the game would have ended with the same scoreline had he stayed on the pitch, we just now have to wait and see for how long he will be out.
Koscielny: 6 – Made a couple of top class interceptions and clearances in the first half but as it’s almost always the case, he struggled against Sebastien Squillaci. But, considering how often they play together, it’s time for Laurent to improve the communication with his compatriot as blaming the veteran is becoming obsolete.
Sagna: 6,5 – The first one of a long list of players who were brilliant in the first half but struggled in the second. Delivered a perfect cross for Robin’s fourth but seemed to lose it in the second half, getting a foolish yellow for protesting.
Clichy: 6 – In all sorts of trouble in the second half and yet again too weak in the air, allowing Leon Best to win an aerial challenge and go on to score the second.
Wilshere: 6 – Perfect in the first half with his first touches and runs in the middle but completely anonymous in the second as I believe he could have provided more help to the defensive department. Also, sometimes it’s worth spending time after the game to analyse what went right, what went wrong and what could be improved instead of going on twitter to bash the referee and delete the tweet seconds later.
Diaby: 4 – Joey Barton’s best quality is his ability to cause havoc and Abou should have known better. It’s a shame as Abou was perfect in the first half, involved in almost all moves from which we scored.
Fabregas: 6,5 – Top, top performance in the first half but like Jack he failed to give that extra protection to the defence when we were under heavy pressure.
Arshavin: 7 – Three minutes into the game and already two assists for the Russian. Clever flick for Jack in the 23rd minute and kept working hard until replaced in the 71st minute.
Walcott: 7 – Scored one, assisted Robin for the third and was a constant threat down the right. Should have been replaced earlier as he clearly offers very little when we’re under heavy pressure.
van Persie: 7 – Two more goals for Robin who delivered a number of interesting balls in the Newcastle penalty area although he vanished in the second half. Maybe Marouane should have been introduced?
Squillaci: 5 – Too slow, almost always caught on the back foot though he did make a number of good headers to clear the danger.
Rosicky: 3 – Offered nothing, zero, nada. Asked to be an asset in the defensive department but has no idea how to do it.
Eboue: 5 – Thirteen minutes on the pitch but still enough to get a foolish yellow for kicking the ball.