Fuming Newcastle, ‘cheating’ Arsenal taunt and transfer target gets stadium glimpse – 5 things

Newcastle United suffered their fifth Premier League defeat of the season following a 2-0 loss against title-chasing Arsenal at St James’ Park on Sunday.

Martin Odegaard opened the scoring for Arsenal with a strike from distance in the 14th minute before Fabian Schar put Gabriel Martinelli’s cross through his own net late on on an afternoon Newcastle failed to take their chances.

Here are five things we learned from the game.

READ MORE: Newcastle United vs Arsenal highlights

Nick Pope fumes as defence taken apart

There was less than a quarter of an hour on the clock when Martin Odegaard had the space and time he needed to take a touch and pick out the bottom corner from 25 yards out. That is just what the ruthlessly accurate Odegaard did against the run of play to silence St James’.

If there is one player you do not want to give space to from distance, it is Odegaard. In fact, the Arsenal skipper has scored nine non-penalty goals away from home in the Premier League this season and Newcastle players will have been well-aware of that before this game. You could see why Pope was furious as he roared and clapped his gloves in frustration at those in front of him after Joelinton was just too late to rush out and close down the Norway star.

Newcastle looked rocked and Pope had to be at his best to keep out Gabriel Martinelli, Odegaard (twice) and Bukayo Saka before the Magpies regrouped at half-time. Newcastle duly made a strong start to the second half – Alexander Isak and Fabian Schar both had huge chances – but Arsenal soon took the hosts apart as Howe’s team went in search of an equaliser.

There were 71 minutes played when Kieran Trippier was caught high up field and Sven Botman had to fill in at right-back as Gabriel Martinelli broke at pace. Martinelli got to the byline, toyed with Botman, before the Brazil international’s cross was hooked into his own net by Fabian Schar.

Newcastle United's Fabian Schar (second from right) reacts after scoring an own goal during the Premier League match at St. James' Park
Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar (second from right) reacts after scoring an own goal during the Premier League match at St. James’ Park

Arsenal dabble in the dark arts

This was the definition of a Super Sunday clash. Not only were Arsenal going for the title – Newcastle were bidding to take another giant step towards Champions League qualification The stakes could not have been any higher and that is before you throw in some added spice.

Mikel Arteta, who clashed with Eddie Howe on the touchline at the Emirates earlier this season, stoked the flames ahead of their reunion by proclaiming: “We will try to play the game that we want and they want a very different game.” That was, of course, in reference to how Newcastle upset Arsenal’s rhythm in the reverse fixture back in January when even unused substitute Jamaal Lascelles received a booking for slowing the Gunners down on the touchline.

Yet that is just a side to Newcastle’s game. The Magpies have long proved that they can blow the so-called ‘big six’ away, particularly at home, as they did against Spurs and Manchester United last month and Jacob Murphy struck the post after just a minute on Sunday.

Arsenal needed to catch their breaths and you could not help but notice how Aaron Ramsdale took his time with all of his goal kicks to loud boos from the home support to try and run down the clock – even when the Gunners took the lead. In a way, it was the ultimate compliment to Newcastle, mirroring what the Magpies did to Arsenal in the reverse fixture.

Eddie Howe, Manager of Newcastle United, and Jason Tindall, Assistant Manager of Newcastle United, react during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal FC
Eddie Howe, Manager of Newcastle United, and Jason Tindall, Assistant Manager of Newcastle United, react during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal FC

Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Jesus were not shy in running down the clock, either, whether it was going down theatrically or taking their time getting up, much to Newcastle’s frustration as the home fans repeatedly chanted: “Same old Arsenal – always cheating!” A niggly contest threatened to boil over late on as an angry Fabian Schar and substitute Eddie Nketiah shoved each other before being separated.

Kieran Tierney gets a glimpse of rocking St James’

If there is one place that tests your title mettle, it’s St James’ Park, where Newcastle had lost just one game in the 12 months before Arsenal’s visit. Granit Xhaka was the first to admit that Newcastle ‘destroyed us’ in the corresponding fixture last season when St James’ roared under the lights. It was not about to get any quieter 356 days later.

Such was the game’s importance, Wor Flags called on supporters to #BringYourScarf as they did for the memorable home wins against Leicester City and Southampton in the Carabao Cup earlier this season. “It will take a similar push from us all to create an atmosphere which helps the team in our finish push,” a statement read.

Supporters duly did just that – maintaining the wall of noise even while God Save the King was played before kick-off to mark the coronation – and the players, in turn, fed off that sound. Although Arsenal soon quietened that noise, you can be sure substitute Kieran Tierney, a Newcastle target, was among those who took note.

Isak and Wilson unleashed but chances wasted

No wonder Eddie Howe felt it was the ‘right time’. Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson had scored 12 goals between them in their previous seven games and the Newcastle boss was moved to finally unleash the pair from the off against Arsenal.

Given the quality of opposition, it felt like a bold statement before a ball was even kicked, but you could see the logic of starting Isak on the left and Wilson through the middle against this Arsenal defence. Gabriel may have been passed fit, after hobbling off with an ankle injury against Chelsea, but the Arsenal centre-back is not quite the same player without the influential William Saliba beside him. In fact, Arsenal are a leaker side full stop without Saliba.

That was an obvious area for Newcastle to target and, for all the pressure Howe’s team came under, the Magpies had their chances – even having a penalty award overturned by VAR. Jacob Murphy’ shot struck the post early doors; Joe Willock’s effort was kept out by Aaron Ramsdale in the 27th minute; Alexander Isak’s header hit the upright in the 48th minute; and Fabian Schar’s header was clawed away by Ramsdale in the 49th minute. In games like these, Newcastle simply have to put away these chances.

Newcastle United's Jacob Murphy shoots for goal but it hits the post
Newcastle United’s Jacob Murphy shoots for goal but it hits the post

Allan Saint-Maximin returns and bench to play part

There was once a time where Eddie Howe had few options sitting behind him to truly change a game, but the Newcastle boss had a host of potential game-changers in reserve on Sunday with the returning Allan Saint-Maximin joining Miguel Almiron and Anthony Gordon on the bench. Although the trio did not affect the outcome of this game this time, they will certainly be needed at Leeds next week and for Newcastle’s final four matches of the campaign for that matter.

Substitutes have certainly played their part in Newcastle’s march towards Champions League qualification in recent months. Miguel Almiron came on and scored the winner against Wolves; Elliot Anderson gave Newcastle a shot in the arm at Nottingham Forest; Callum Wilson scored goals from the bench against Manchester United, Spurs and, most crucially, Southampton; and Alexander Isak popped up with a moment of magic with a stunning finish at West Ham last month.


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