Newcastle United lost 2-0 to Arsenal over the holiday weekend at St James’ Park to leave Champions League qualification still in the balance.
There should be no panic yet for Newcastle with the top four battle still very much in their own hands, starting away to Leeds next weekend for the encounter at Elland Road. However, Eddie Howe will be looking to tweak a few things defensively after one of the poorest days of the campaign for the back four.
For all the questionable moments against the Gunners though Arsenal left the famous old stadium knowing they had to fight for the right to become only the second team to win on Tyneside this season.
Jorginho shows respect to Newcastle United
Some Newcastle fans were still leaving St James’ Park as the Euro 2020 winner was conducting his post-game interviews at the side of the pitch. After the game, the former Napoli star knew his team had been in a fight on Tyneside.
Speaking afterwards he said: “It’s a massive win. And we knew it was a tough game coming here and winning the way we did, but sometimes you know you have to fight a lot to get the three points.”
On a day in which the 31-year-old Brazilian-born player went in against Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton in the engine room, the skilful passer edged the battle of the South Americans. But only after being prepared to fight, something he was happy to point out afterwards.
The ‘stay at home’ warning by Switzerland star
Granit Xhaka had also warned team-mates before the game: “If someone isn’t ready for this game, stay at home, as simple as that. It doesn’t matter your age, you can be 30, 35, 10, 18 – if you’re not ready for that, stay on the bench, stay at home, don’t come here.”
Both of Arsenal’s senior stars were spot on with their assessments but it shows how far Newcastle have come in a short space of time, St James’ is a fortress once again. Only last season teams were turning up thinking they had a right to collect three points but Newcastle are tough to beat again under Eddie Howe.
Newcastle fans still at their loudest in defeat
Eddie Howe and his squad made their usual lap of appreciation after the final whistle with Newcastle fans showing their appreciation at the end of a gruelling encounter on Tyneside.
And the fans – who’d served up a raucous atmosphere – were just as loud as the players went off at the end. The St James’ Park crowd could still be key in the Champions League battle too.
Two home clashes against Leicester and Brighton later this month could hold the key to that first Champions League finish since 2003.
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