Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2  Saturday 21 March 3pm

A game of two halves.

The fightback in the second half was encouraging but this reluctance from Carver (and Pardew before him) to attack from the first whistle is doing my head in.

Arsenal never really clicked today, apart from in very odd moments.

I’d watched the highlights of theire previous Premier League match and they blew West Ham away with flowing moves that sliced them open,.

Was it Arsenal were poor(-ish) or did Newcastle defend slightly better?

Whatever the case, United couldn’t have defended much deeper in that first half, early forays into the visitors’ half were quickly curtailed and it looked only a matter of time before Arsenal clicked into gear but they never really did.

Instead it was textbook free-kicks that led to two first-half goals for Oivier Giroud and Arsenal, though it was anything but textbook defending.

The French striker completely overwhelming and outmuscling Mike Williamson on both occasions, whilst Vurnon Anita should be docked a month’s wages for the feeble attempt to stop the second goal, the ball dropping just inside  the post he was supposed to be marking on a corner.

John Carver’s reaction:

“Proud, that is the first emotion, but disappointed because I thought we should have got something from the game. Up until they scored the goal, I thought we were in control of the game.

“I said to the guys at half-time, stick your chest out and give it a go, don’t be gung ho or silly, stay in your shape and break from your shape – I thought they did that and the second-half was fantastic.”

It would be nice to be like that first-half…:

“There were a lot of outstanding performances and that is encouraging, especially before a derby game. You don’t want to go into that game low on confidence.
“We have had a go the second-half and it would be nice to be like that first-half, but it wasn’t to be.”

Newcastle were a badly beaten team as they trooped off to booing at half-time, surely no way back into this game against a team who had won 13 of their last 15 matches.

Three minutes after the restart it was 1-2.

Ryan Taylor and Remy Cabella combining stylishly down the right before the latter crossed for Sissoko to produce a smart finish and seal a fine team move.

After that it was a different game. Both Newcastle’s players and crowd were well into it.

More than a few people will have walked away thinking why can’t that second-half be what we try to do every match – from the start?

More measured observers might have seen two sides to the transformation.

On the one hand you had Arsenal potentially getting their flip-flops out, believing it was job done.

Whilst on the other hand maybe Newcastle were let off the leash and allowed to have a go for once, with it already looking like the game had gone already.

It sounds like a broken record but once again Janmaat was Newcastle’s best player, his first satrt at centre-back and he was excellent. Perez and Cabella also stood out as our best hope in that second-half.

The usual culprits were poor to terrible, with Obertan, Sammy, Anita, Gouffran and Williamson summing up just how weak Newcastle are, your better players can carry one or two players possibly but not four or five.

These are the key stats as provided by BBC Sport;

Possession was 51% Newcastle and 49% Arsenal

Total shots was 16 for Newcastle and 7 Arsenal

Shots on target was Newcastle 4 and Arsenal 3

While corners was Newcastle 9 and Arsenal 4

Team: Krul, Ryan Taylor, Janmaat, Williamson, Colback, Anita (Jonas 72), Sissoko, Gouffran, Ameobi (89 Armstrong), Cabella, Perez

Unused Subs: Elliot, Obertan, Riviere, Satka, Kemen

Ref: Mike Jones

Crowd: 50,544