Newcastle must not panic after Arsenal loss with Champions League dream very much alive

Steady, fear not. There is no need for any Geordie heart to lose its beat. Keep the faith. All is not lost. Just one football match.

The dream is still very much alive. Champions League qualification remains only a step away. After a long successful season of joyous celebration this is not the time to jump ship or abandon hope. Eight of the last 10 matches have been won.

Newcastle United played their part in a great spectacle at St James Park, a throbbing game of punch and counter punch, of boiling ferocity at times. No prisoners of war, just a war.

READ MORE: What Eddie Howe and Newcastle staff were told by referee after VAR incident that ‘rocked’ Magpies

But for England class performances by goalkeepers Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale, what we could have had is another 4-4 like the famous Cheick Tiote match of many moons ago.

We are still in the driving seat even if a glance in the rear view mirror reveals a speedster coming up at a rate of knots.

Liverpool provide the biggest challenge to Newcastle’s Champions League hopes because they have somehow put together a run of six successive victories without playing exceptionally well leaving them only three points behind us. True, they have only a trio of games left but all three are winnable – Leicester (a), Aston Villa (h), and Southampton (a) on the final day, so nine points could be theirs.

It is so frustrating because without the six United presented to them, Liverpool would be choking on exhaust fumes. However, let us keep a sense of proportion. United can beat Leeds, Leicester, and Chelsea to acquire the points needed and can also defeat Brighton up here, the only other club apart from Liverpool to genuinely threaten Geordie hopes.

Their lifeline is the games they have in hand but they have to go to Arsenal and Newcastle, as well as play Man City at home which is hardly easy.

United looked like blowing Arsenal away early doors. Within the first seven minutes Jacob Murphy struck a post and VAR denied the Mags a penalty after referee Chris Kavanagh had initially awarded it.

However everything changed before the quarter hour mark because of Arsenal’s magnificent skipper Martin Odegaard. United were too slow getting out to him on the edge of the penalty area which is fatal with him and he nutmegged Sven Botman with a sweeping low shot into the corner of Pope’s goal.

Enter centre stage both keepers. Pope saved magnificently from Gabriel Martinelli, Odegaard, and Bukayo Saka while Ramsdale did likewise when called upon by Joe Willock and Fabian Schar.

It was see-saw, ebb and flow, a great advert from teams second and third in the Premier League until cruelty reared its clammy hand. Martinelli got away down United’s left and approaching the by line crossed low for Schar to inadvertently divert into his own net. Game over.


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