Sunday finished Newcastle 2 Arsenal 1.

Rafa’s team going behind after 14 minutes, only to fight back and win thanks to goals from Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie.

A game where Newcastle surrendered much of the possession but Martin Dubravka had few saves to make, with in fact NUFC increasingly threatening on the counter-attack as the game went on – actually having four efforts on target to Arsenal’s three over the course of the 90 minutes.

The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.

Here goes…

POSITIVES

One Nil Down, Two One Up

On Sunday, it was the ninth time this season that Newcastle had gone behind at St James Park in the Premier League.

The other eight times had produced six defeat and two draws (Liverpool and Swansea) but this time it was a famous victory, showing great character to regroup and come back to deservedly win.

This makes it two victories for Newcastle from losing positions overall, as NUFC went an early goal down at West Ham in December before eventually winning 3-2.

Islam Slimani

In under 30 minutes the Algerian striker showed us what we have been missing all season up front.

Considering he still doesn’t look fully match fit, no surprise after being out so long, he was fantastic. It leaves Newcastle fans wondering what could have been possible if Rafa had been backed with the recognised goalscorer he wanted last summer.

Dwight Gayle is a good striker and we need to keep him as well – but not with the main responsibility for goals.

Slimani had the Arsenal defence all over place with his power, direct running and unselfish play to set up both the winning goal AND two other chances when Kenedy hit the bar and Perez should have done better with another opportunity.

Release The Real Mohamed Diame

Fair to say that not since Cheick Tiote have we seen a Newcastle midfielder upset the opposition.

He got man of the match in our fan poll and no wonder, as he was everywhere, plus he is a little bit more subtle than Tiote was in leaving his foot in a bit to let them know he’s there.

It warps your mind just a bit when you keep telling yourself that Mohamed Diame is actually our best player, certainly over the last couple of months. After what went before, it just doesn’t seem possible.

NEGATIVES

The Atmosphere

I keep reading about how great our atmosphere is at St James Park but it isn’t what I see/experience a lot of the time.

At times it is very very good but it is really an all or nothing thing now.

The first half against Arsenal, probably even up to the hour mark, was played out to a very quiet crowd, the 1.30pm kick-off not helping. With Newcastle sitting back, there was nothing to get the crowd going and whilst the Perez goal did spark things for a couple of minutes, as the team didn’t then take that as an opportunity to press, the crowd retreated as well to near silence.

However, the last half hour WAS excellent. Even before the winner, the crowd responded to the introduction of Slimani and a bit more attacking intent, with pretty much everybody joining in to ensure a cracking last 30 minutes both on and off the pitch.

There is no shame in being truthful talking about when the atmosphere is good AND bad.

They Are Not Ours…Yet

This uplift in form has been achieved with a big helping hand from Martin Dubravka, Kenedy, and now, Islam Slimani.

The win over Arsenal saw all three loan players contribute to the victory.

However, looking ahead to next season, just to have the level of team/squad that we are now enjoying watching, we need to see these three players tied down to permanent transfers, or signings of an equivalent level.

There is no way Newcastle would have been on 41 points now without this January injection of quality and Rafa made clear last summer that this kind of quality was needed.

Here’s hoping these early signings will be made ASAP.

Every Positive Brings A Negative 

As Newcastle have improved with results and performances, it is also guaranteed to bring one other thing.

Yes, speculation about the futures of Rafa Benitez and Newcastle’s key players.

I’m afraid until we reach a point where Newcastle aren’t seen as just an also-ran, we will continue to be seen as a feeder club for the top six.

Rafa Benitez can change that if given the chance that and ensure that there is no compelling reason why any player should want to leave.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 2 Arsenal 1

Goals:

Newcastle: Perez 29, Ritchie 68

Arsenal: Lacazette 14

Possession was Arsenal 72% Newcastle 28%

Total shots were  Arsenal 15 Newcastle 8

Shots on target were Arsenal 3 Newcastle 4

Corners were  Arsenal 5 Newcastle 2

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie (Murphy 86), Shelvey, Kenedy, Perez (Joselu 79), Gayle (Slimani 63))

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Manquillo, Clark, Hayden

Crowd: 52,210 (2,700 Arsenal approx)

(Alan Shearer revels in Newcastle win and has Piers Morgan and other Arsenal fans biting – Read HERE)

(United fan/writer instant reaction to the 2-1 victory – Read it HERE)

(Match ratings of all NUFC players after beating Arsenal – Read HERE)

(Arsene Wenger says Newcastle didn’t even deserve a point…Read HERE)

(Rafa Benitez reaction after final whistle – Read HERE)

(Garth Crooks revisits ‘Rafa could win Premier League with Newcastle’ comments – Read HERE)

(Mohamed Diame talks through the win over Arsenal and reaching PL safety – Read it HERE)

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  • Scott Robinson

    Three positives for me. The wife cooked oven chips for tea- three different ways- so on my plate ‘under cooked, over cooked and burnt’.

    The three negatives. I have oven chips for breakfast, dinner and tea.

    At least the frozen ones might be more enjoyable when the summer weather arrives, …probably not.

    • Wor Lass

      I was going to say that it`s better than coming in to a note saying, “Your dinner`s in the dog” but then again …..

    • Andy Mac

      My wife is such a bad cook she uses the kitchen smoke alarm as a timer😏

  • TheNutJob

    leazes love`s these articles
    😂😂😂

  • TheNutJob

    Slimani`s appearance showed just how weak the rest of our strikers are & i`m afraid that includes Mitro.

    • Ramalingam Raghavan

      Just imagine if we had Tammy instead of Hoss.

  • Leazes.

    Why not three positives and five negatives…equal numbers doesn’t really give a true picture of the club!

    • glassjawsh-got-banned

      positives: nothing ever
      negatives: everything always
      lovingly,
      Leazes

  • Pozz Mozz

    Diame is the one I would say making the biggest difference in the team’s performance. Raw power with good positional sense and tackling. Not a pacey player but his long strides allow him to recover quickly. What’s most impressive though is his reading of the game and allowing others around him to play, never thought I would see that in Diame. If he keeps this level and stays injury free, he will definitely be the first on the team sheet.

  • Rich Lawson

    Early days for Slimani,but on his brief showing he does appear to be what we have lacked,a proper centre forward who is mobile and can intimidate defences. Before we look anywhere else the 3 Jan’ loaner’s should be signed up,they all look a good fit and have improved the team.

    • Jezza

      Unfortunately none of those three will be signed up. It’s more loans and free transfers from now on.

      • Ramalingam Raghavan

        In that case it will not be Rafa at the helm for sure.
        Final chance for Ashley…

        • Jezza

          Ashley had his final chance in January. Rafa’s magnificent achievement with a Championship squad and no money to spend in the Premiership this season has not gone un-noticed. Come the summer he will not be short of offers from more successful, better run clubs with substantial transfer budgets.

          • Ramalingam Raghavan

            Been following him since 2005, so it all depends on Ashley atm. Ashley has approved the loans of these 3 in Jan and Rafa says talks are in process. I don’t see any stable clubs other than Lpool and ManC atm. He prefers total control which can be afforded by Ashley.

          • Jezza

            Three loans isn’t enough for any manager to do the job properly. Do you really think Rafa will stick around at Newcastle just to bring in another three reserve players on loan when other clubs will be offering him £100 million to spend?

          • Ramalingam Raghavan

            I didn’t mean 3 loans were enough. Just a start.
            If Ashley doesnt agree to Rafa’s contract demands he is sure to walk away.

  • Paul Patterson

    Atmosphere a negative? Are you mad? It was great to be there at the weekend with everyone, manager, players and fans as one. When Arsenal scored, everyone started chanting ‘Newcastle’ in defiance/response. After the final whistle there were 40k+ left in the ground applauding the walk round.

  • FatParosite

    I can’t celebrate anything while that fat parasite is consuming our club.

  • Andy Mac

    “Dwight Gayle is a good striker and we need to keep him as well – but not with the main responsibility for goals” Sorry, what ?🤔

    • 1957

      Dwight’s level is the Championship, he needs to be replaced along with Mitrovic… and Hoss

      • Ramalingam Raghavan

        He is a better 3rd choice Striker to have. As we need 3 btw.

  • 1957

    For me only signing the loan players will only help us to stand still, we need to buy another couple of quality players in addition. Will it happen, not if Mike still holds the purse strings there’s no way he will sanction the say £35m plus for the three on loan and maybe the same again on top.

    My guess would be at best a couple of low price squad players, the goal keeper signed and the maximum 4 loan players while shipping out Mitrovic, Gayle, Clark, possibly Merino or Hayden and Elliot or Darlow… and the Captain if anyone offers over £30m

    • Ramalingam Raghavan

      Mitro, Joselu (keep Gayle) Hayden, Elliot and all the loanees out. Las cells should stay unless a 50mn bid comes in. I have more faith in Rafa s eye for a CB/GK so not worried selling our best CB.