Message To Pardew – ‘He Who Dares Rodney (Alan), Wins’
The Newcastle vs Arsenal team sheet left me gutted, Alan Pardew forgetting the wise words of his fellow cockney – as Delboy often said ‘He who dares Alan, wins’.
I couldn’t fault the effort of the players and thought that they did as much as possible within the tactical limitations and team selection as possible…but the manager got it wrong.
Newcastle arrived at the last match of the calendar year in a great position; already safe from relegation before 2014 is ushered in and the chance to close the gap on league leaders Arsenal to only three points at the halfway stage.
Hatem Ben Arfa had turned in a clear man of the match performance against Stoke and brimming over with confidence he’d have been licking his lips at the chance of a go at Arsenal, a team he’s had plenty of joy against in the past.
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Putting Hatem on the bench in favour of a defensive midfielder, surely having a laugh!
The Gunners arrived without their two best players in Ozil and Ramsey, the two who also just happen to be their most creative players capable of hurting the opposition. A tough December for the visitors had seen them win only one of their last five matches and I bet Arsene wasn’t fancying this at all.
When he was waiting to see Newcastle’s team sheet, who do you think he was hoping to see on it – Vurnon Anita or Hatem Ben Arfa?
Answer that honestly and then you have your answer of who should have started yesterday.
I would bet my last penny (if I still had any after the wife’s Christmas spending!) that never in a million years would Kevin Keegan or Sir Bobby Robson have gone defensive and left out Hatem Ben Arfa.
A sold out festive match at St.James’ Park with Newcastle fans happily looking upwards instead of down, taking the game to Arsenal and giving the ball to Ben Arfa at every opportunity would have got the crowd and players going from the start.
Yes Arsenal would have had potentially more space to play in but so would those in black and white. Instead our players camped around the box just like they did against Chelsea but we didn’t get away with it this time.
The visitors were missing their two best players while Newcastle had everybody available. Surely we’ll never have such good chance of ripping into one of the better teams?
Everybody (manager, fans, the players themselves) seems to agree that we have got some very good players, especially going forward, so why not give them a platform to show what they can do.
This idea of keeping it tight for an hour or so and then having a go for the last twenty/thirty minutes, fine if you are a lesser team but when you have Remy, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Sissoko with Tiote prowling behind as protection – have a go for the full 90 minutes!
Give the fans something to shout for all game, we all know that the atmosphere these days is an all or nothing thing, you need to get the crowd going en masse and then it bounces back from crowd to players and back again etc etc.
Wasted opportunity for a major leap forward, will we be in this position again any time soon?
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