When Alan Shearer talks about Newcastle United, it is very rarely that I find myself disagreeing.
This is generally down to two main reasons.
Shearer is always honest when he speaks, not one of those willing to say whatever somebody wants him to say simply to grab a few quid.
Most importantly though, he actually knows what he is talking about.
Looking back over Newcastle’s defeat to Arsenal, one thing massively stood out for him: ‘I don’t think Arsenal are that good a team.’
Sitting at the match I was saying the same to those around me, this was the worst Arsenal performance I’d seen at St James Park for a long long time. Far worse than last season when Newcastle actually won.
Yes, once Arsenal played their get out of jail card and scored the free-kick, they looked a lot better, but that was clearly down to Newcastle’s confidence and belief being popped like a balloon when that ball hit the back of the net.
However, the first half saw the Gunners with no real discernible midfield plan, or any strategy at all to test Dubravka No saves to make until that 49th minute and by the final whistle he still hadn’t made a save, two shots on target and two goals.
Both before and after this game, lazy pundits and neutrals will simply pitch this game in with those that had gone before against Spurs,, Chelsea and Man City.
Playing a top six side and losing 2-1, the other side having had the bulk of the possession and dominating the game.
That simply wasn’t the case yesterday though, Arsenal are nowhere near the quality of Chelsea, Man City and Spurs.
Newcastle have more chance of finishing top half than Emery’s side have of top four.
Rafa Benitez knows this as well, that is why he was happy to press high up the pitch from the first whistle, he knew Arsenal didn’t have the players to hurt his side like those of the top sides.
This was a game where he knew Newcastle could and should get something, a goal in that first half and surely it would have been a point as a minimum.
I think Rafa will be gutted and he knows fine well that Palace away next week looks a tougher challenge than this one did. Not impossible of course for Newcastle to get something at Selhurst Park and indeed I am expecting a point, especially if we have the likes of Shelvey and Rondon back on the pitch, BUT I honestly think NUFC stood a better chance of getting three points at home to this poor Arsenal side.
A massive opportunity has passed us by.
Alan Shearer speaking on Match of The Day:
“It was a bit of a scrappy game.
“Newcastle edged the first half…Arsenal were a bit slow and did not have enough options on the ball.
“There was no working together between Lacazette and Aubameyang – Newcastle were quite comfortable.
“Then Torreira came on (at half-time) and changed the game.
“Arsenal were much the better team in the second half and deserved to win the game.
“He (Torreira) just kept everything ticking along and they were much more patient.
“That defeat hurt me more than the Man City one, the Tottenham one, the Chelsea one – because I don’t think Arsenal are that good a team.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2
Newcastle: Clark 90+1
Arsenal: Xhaka 49, Ozil 58
Possession was Arsenal 64% Newcastle 36%
Total shots were Arsenal 12 Newcastle 4
Shots on target were Arsenal 2 Newcastle 2
Corners were Arsenal 4 Newcastle 10
Referee: Lee Probert
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Clark 46), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie (Muto 79), Diame, Hayden, Murphy (Kenedy 69), Perez, Joselu
Darlow, Manquillo, Rondon, Shelvey
Crowd: 52,165 (3,200 Arsenal approx)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2 – Read HERE)
(A third relegation in 10 years on the cards? Read HERE)
(Match ratings of all NUFC players after the defeat – Read HERE)
(Phil Thompson had some strong views on the match – Read HERE)