Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0 Saturday 2 January 3pm
Another year and another defeat for Newcastle.
Before the game, I went through the games of 2015. If you want to know how bad it is being a Newcastle fan at the moment, then listen to this. I went to 26 games in 2015, and only saw Newcastle win once (home to West Ham 2-0).
Although I have been unlucky, where at the moment pretty much every game I miss we win, it’s still a staggering fact for a fan who goes to almost every game. In fact, if you take away that West Ham game in May, it would mean I haven’t seen us win a game since 1 November 2014 at home to Liverpool. I wonder if 2016 will be any better?
Defeat at The Emirates is nothing new, although a much improved performance and spirit from the starting eleven was greatly appreciated. However, when you’re at the bottom of the league, it doesn’t really mean anything, does it?
Three defeats on the trot, all 1-0, two of them really poor performances, despite what Stevie Mac may say, leaves us in a frightening position going into 2016. If there are positives to take, I think it is that everyone can see where the weaknesses in the side lie (although the negatives are that McClaren, Simpson, Charnley and Carr seem to be the only ones who don’t seem to know).
After not touching the ball for the first 10 minutes, Newcastle dominated the game from minute 11 to 72. The warning signs that nothing much had changed were actually there in the opening five minutes. Arsenal didn’t play well. Chances in the first half fell to Mitrovic, Colback, Wijanuldum, but we failed to take advantage of them. Much of the press reported that Petr Cech was the best player on the pitch, however, with the exception of the Wijanaldum chance at the beginning of the second half, they were all saves you would have expected Cech to make, we didn’t really test him in my opinion.
There were many songs and tributes to Pavel Srnicek before and during the game. However, the atmosphere, on a wet and cold day was actually quite subdued. As expected, Arsenal fans were as quiet as can be. You would have thought that if your team was top of the league, and hadn’t won it for 10 years, you would have got behind the team, but no, not Arsenal fans. Surprisingly, the away end was also quite subdued for long periods of the game.
The second half produced two great chances. Wijaldum should have scored and we should have been 1-0 up, as much of a sitter as de Jong vs Aston Villa. Moments after, Mitrovic had another great chance, but couldn’t seem to sort his feet out.
Failure to take your chances in any game makes it more likely that the other team is going to go up the other end and make you pay for it. Failure to do it against Arsenal, at the Emirates, leads to the inevitable. The goal came in the 72nd minute, out of nowhere really. Perez will undoubtedly and rightly pick up the blame, but there wasn’t an awful lot that we could have done about the goal.
Once Arsenal scored it was effectively game over, Gibbs came on to double up on Sissoko and Arsenal comfortably saw the game out. Leaving us lingering in 18th. Victories for West Brom, Norwich and the mackems only made the day worse for us. Even Bournemouth got a point at Leicester, but that shouldn’t surprise us based on results this season.
The performance may be a cause for optimism but for me it doesn’t mean anything at all. I felt the same after Man United at the start of the season, the same after Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham. Yet here are, still in the bottom 3, still making the same mistakes. I would be very surprised if anything changes.
On the way home to where I am staying in London I got into conversation with Arsenal and West Ham fans about our predicament, and both agreed that they think Newcastle will go down this season. I think we will too.
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Elliott – 7 Couldn’t do anything about the goal. More than happy for him to be our man between the sticks this season, an honest pro, who I hope to see as Ireland’s number 1 this summer.
Janmaat – 7 Got forward really well and caused problems down the right hand side.
Coloccini – 6 Picked up slightly in recent weeks, but still a weak link in the side.
Mbemba – 8 One of the few gems picked up by Graham Carr, looks like a defender we can build the spine of the team around.
Dummett – 6 Always gives 100% but a left back would be my priority in January.
Tiote – 6 Did what you would have expected him to do.
Colback 8 – Has taken a lot of criticsm in recent weeks and I can’t understand why. In my opinion, if it wasn’t for him, we would lose a lot more games, by a lot bigger scorelines. Pressed Arsenal all day.
Sissoko 8 – Shock as Sissoko actually turns up for a game, just a coincidence that it was Arsenal away I’m sure.
Wijnaldum – 6 Failure to take chances ultimately cost us the game.
Perez – 5 Quiet game and was at fault for the goal.
Mitrovic – 9 I think his best game in a Newcastle shirt. He bullied Mertasacker and Koscielny all game.
Thauvin – 6 Should have came on much much earlier.
De Jong – 6 No time to make an impact.
What happens with Newcastle this month will ultimately decide our fate for this season.
Failure to invest in January will undoubtedly result in relegation. With Watford away coming up twice (including FA Cup), along with Man United and West Ham, we could very easily be cut adrift by the end of the month… but lets hope not!
If the premier league has taught us anything this season it’s that anything can happen in any game.
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Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0
Goals: Koscielny 72mins
Possession was 49% Newcastle and 51% Arsenal
Total shots was 15 for Newcastle and Arsenal 16
Shots on target was Newcastle 6 and Arsenal 3
While corners was Newcastle 6 and Arsenal 7
Team: Elliot, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett, Colback (Thauvin 79), Tiote (de Jong 87), Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Perez, Mitrovic
Unused Subs: Darlow, Mbabu, Gouffran, Lascelles, Toney
Ref: Anthony Taylor
Crowd: 59,257 (2,000 Newcastle)
(To view the player ratings by fans and to add your own go HERE)
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