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

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles (Clark 46), Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie (Muto 79), Diame, Hayden, Murphy (Kenedy 69), Perez, Joselu

Unused Subs:

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)

  • Paul Patterson

    I think the loss of Lascelles was a far bigger factor . .

    • panther

      agree, they stopped pressing and started arguing amongst themselves, there was no leader on the pitch,and if Shelveys on the bench, why didnt he get on?,if hes still injured then why was he on the bench?

  • Kenny

    we gifted them the 1st goal & when the 2nd went in it was game over because when are the likes of the Hoss & Perez going to get 2 or 3 goals, Never

  • Mrkgw

    Ashley out for sure. But, I”m fast becoming tired of the same old excuses time and time again. For me, Rafa can go too.

    • Paul Patterson

      So we have a World Class Manager (FACT) and he isn’t given decent money to spend (FACT). You want rid of said manager and get who?
      Put Guardiola, Mourinho, Wenger, Pochettino, Emery, whoever you like in charge and the results will be similar.
      We have the manager, just the funds are not given to him.
      Here’s a thought,- We’ve tried the skinflint approach where Ashley has tried to run the club on a budget/profit. Hows about trying to spend a bit, the former hasn’t worked, let’s try the latter . .

      • Mrkgw

        Problem is Ashley wont spend. He never has, never will. And, because he is at odds with Rafa, he now spends next to nothing. Something has to give – Ashley wont go therefore, an alternative element must, in order to preserve our status in the top league. Rafa has made some dubious decisions – the team selection yesterday was hapless. Joselu for heavens sake. And, more often than not, there is generally a questionable aspect. Tactics are for whatever reason dire. He has let some players go and they are now wanted by better sides – Mbabu, Mitro for example, latter of who, is wanted by Chelsea. Enough of it for me, I want both out – Ashley and Benitez. Sorry, if that offends the masses.

        • Wor Lass

          I don`t think Ashley`s refusal to spend at the minute is anything to do with Rafa. He`s just using the contract thing as the latest excuse. He won`t spend for the same reason as ever – he wants the books looking sound in case he decides to sell. He`s always been happy to just get by and stay in the PL. If we`re in real trouble come January he might splash some cash, Rafa or no Rafa. I do think rafa needs to look at his approach, though. “If you always do what you`ve always done …..” and all that!

          • Sickandtired

            Not so much about the books either. If it was, he wouldn’t have added £18 million as part of his ‘loans’ (in order to repay himself) in Dec ’16.

        • Will Venus

          Joselu for heavens sake?? In case it had escaped your notice, he’s our top scorer, for heavens sake. There was no alternative as Rondon had been travelling for 2 days. Mitrovic for Chelsea ???Do me a favour. Who would you suggest is an alternative to Benítez if we get rid of him?

          • Mrkgw

            Remarkable. And the brainwashing continues……..

          • Sickandtired

            Go on then. Offer a name as any form of replacement for Rafa?
            Then face the facts. Kinnear. Pardew. McClaren were Ashley’s choices.

          • Mrkgw

            Persuade Shearer to come back into management with KK as mentor. Irrespective of that, it’s not working for Rafa at the moment. Amazing how overly defensive people are when the sacred Rafa is criticised. As I said, brainwashed.

          • Steven05

            Shearer and Keegan have experienced more than us about how scummy Cashly is

          • SuperDesHamilton

            You want Shearer & Keegan in management in 2018. Definitely a troll or blind

          • Mrkgw

            Come on Des, lets not re-open our former fued. Everyone is perfectly entitled to their opinion. We dont live in a world where one line of thought dictates. As it happens, I spoke to a fair few at the weekend who shared the thought that Rafa’s style of football was awful and that the club under Ashley is grim. Mark my words, I’m absolutely not a troll for heavens sake.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            How could you want those two in charge when neither have a clue about football circa 2007. That’s why all these fossils are left out because footballs changed & a lot of fans & football people in this country havent

          • Mrkgw

            Thing is Des, that they were only mentioned. You will be happy in the knowledge that I have no influence in the decisions. That’s the job of chumley Charnley.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            It’s worrying any of the clubs fans think that. Next we’ll have the seanced spirit of joe Harvey Managing the team.

          • Superdooperhooper

            Haway man no-one is saying that rafa is beyond criticism but if he goes he needs to be replaced . By who ? Shearer and kk ? Not while ashley is the owner. We’ll end up with another journeyman yes man like Strachan o’leary moyes or coleman . Is that what you want ?

          • panther

            cos thats whatll appen

          • panther

            neither will come back with Ashley anywhere near it

          • Kneebotherm8

            Cloud cuckoo land if you think Shearer or KK would touch this club with a bargepole with the present owner……or any other decent manager for that matter..

          • Sickandtired

            Well you must be brain dead. KK has publicly stated he won’t set foot in St James’ again while Ashley is here. You think Shearer would work for fatty again either?
            You’re deluded, matey.

          • Will Venus

            Brainwashed? Not me pal, but you seem to be brain dead. Rondon was out of the equation to start, so he selected our top scorer. I say again, you sack Benítez and bring in who? Just answer a simple question, for heavens sake !!!

          • porciestreet

            Joselu our top striker….!he may well have a couple but for goodness sake man, give yersel a shake, wor lass will get more than him.

          • Will Venus

            I said he was our top scorer, never mentioned top striker. His selection was being criticised. I asked, with Rondon out of the equation, why would Benítez not pick our top scorer?? Perhaps you could answer the question?

          • panther

            rondon travelled the same distance as yedlin, and its not like they had to run back, on a 5 star private jet and a traffic cone has more about it the hoss

          • Will Venus

            The point being made was that we have reached such a sad state of affairs that Joselu is our top scorer and for wahatever reason Rondon wasn’t available, Benitez had no option but to pick him. I think all the vitriol aimed at Joselu, mostly justified, rather confirms the original point

          • porciestreet

            Seemingly, Rondon had a knock or just wasn’t ready after his trip so that can be forgiven,

          • Mrkgw

            Wenger, Zidane, De Boer, Bilic who knows. But, it’s just not working for Rafa (accounting for his lack of funding). The football is grim to watch and whilst formerly supporting his appointment, I’m tiring of his approach. I’m by no means alone in that thought. Many have been sacked for less in terms of results.

          • Will Venus

            It’s not great to watch, agreed, but you reap what you sew. However, he has had two full seasons in charge, firstly winning the Championship and secondly punching above our weight and finishing 10th in the Premier League. You have to admit, that deserved an injection of quality that wasn’t delivered whilst everybody else strengthened. Tough opening fixtures aside, we are exactly where we should be and deserve to be. Do you really, honestly, believe that somebody like Wenger or Zidane would touch NUFC with a barge pole, whether the lump is still the owner or not? Pure fantasy I’m afraid. As for Bilic and de Boer, both proven Premier League failures. Shearer and KK, have a stern word with yourself. You have a short memory. I don’t think those two have

          • Mrkgw

            I agree, that the lack of investment is absolutely startling. Scandalous to an enormous degree. Ashley is the worst thing to have happened to our club – ever. In all honesty, no, I don’t believe that Wenger would come anywhere near. But, I remain disappointed with Rafa at the moment. That is clearly emmotive for some – I don’t by return infer to yourself but I find the way that some behave on here to be irrational. It’s nothing short of stirring up a hornets nest but, it’s our club at the end of the day and everyone will have a view on what is best.

          • panther

            the barrel we would be scraping would be a different and vastly cheaper one that that,probably get the night shift supervisor from one of his workhouses in

          • panther

            bizzare subs again yesterday, no point keeping it the same when youre losing with ten mins left, have to try something else

          • Paul Patterson

            “Wenger, Zidane, De Boer, Bilic”- Your opinion is null and void if you actually think that . .

          • Mrkgw

            Think that after some years, I’m finally done with The Mag. All you ever get for bucking the trend is cynicism. No longer is it a portal for open discussion – everyone is expected to tow the line by a few over zealous critics. So, to the likes of Jezza, Leazes, Nut Job, Nut, Wor Lass, Mike Adam, Panther, Porciestreet (in no particular order) I bid you all farewell and thank you.

          • porciestreet

            Sorry to see you go Mr K…all the best.

          • Mrkgw

            Cheers matey, and likewise, to you.

          • Zidane? That’s some strong thing you’re taking :D

          • panther

            so had yedlin, anf Joselu is in no way a premier league player, hes a 100%er just like I would be as he knows hes won the lottery when he could have been working a job and playing for his local pub

        • SuperDesHamilton

          Goodness me 😂😂😂😂

        • Geordiegiants

          Well that will rule Mourinhio out then, he let Debryne, Salah and Lukaku go. He is no good either then.

      • fistsofsteel2

        Rafa is so far past his best before date you can smell the mould.
        He’s clueless. Constantly picks the wrong starting eleven. Makes bizarre substitutions. Has no plan B when things go wrong. Poor man management – he’s clearly lost the dressing room. He’s turned into a bumbling stubborn fool persisting with tactics that clearly don’t work. Get rid of him.

        • You are clueless mate. Try watching how the other teams we played against control, pass and play with the ball and tell me we are not heavily out-classed.

  • Geordiegiants

    I don’t thinks it’s anything to do with the opposition, it’s down to our squad strength. 2 or 3 of our stalwarts out and we are finished. It doesn’t matter who is managing us.

    • Westdentoon

      Completely agree. The squad is paper thin due to lack of investment at a time we could have pushed on from last season (again).
      We got lucky last season with injuries, sadly it isn’t looking to be that way this season.

  • JohnnyH

    Shelvey should have played if he was fit, and Rondon should be starting by now.
    Admittedly that bit of team selection was puzzling for many people.

    However getting rid of Rafa is not the answer for me. He’s a world class coach.
    Under the current regime the only replacement candidates we would be able to attract are going to be third rate yes men, who’ll take it up the pumper for the term of their contract, for the money.

    What we’re seeing here is the desperation of the situation gett8ng to the team.
    They know we’re down this season

    • fistsofsteel2

      He WAS a top coach. When was the last time he had any major success? If he’s still a top coach how come the top clubs aren’t after him?

      • Sickandtired

        A lot more recent than Kinnear, Pardew, Carver and McClaren!!!

        • Kneebotherm8

          He’s effing clueless…

      • Kneebotherm8

        2013 eufa Europa league with Chelsea……2014 coppa Italia with napoli……since then he’s mainly managed us with his hands tied behind his back…..

    • panther

      Im not sure he still is world class, selections, subs and formations dont look too clever, I know we have to work with what weve got, but we showed nothing against cardiff, and arsenal arent the force they were

  • kingfisher

    If Rafa leaves it does’nt matter who comes in,we will still be in the same situation i.e the Manager not being backed and constantly fighting against relegation, but at the end of the day, Rafa has given us his best shot and he can leave with his head held high.
    He has obviously made some mistakes,buying wise and tactics wise,but our failure is down to Ashley and nobody else.

  • magpiefifer

    We don’t always agree with Rafa’s selections,but there’s no way we will survive in the PL without him.However,even with Rafa here I can see us being relegated this season – we’ll get a better idea after playing Palace and Leicester,but what really bothers me,apart from the players’ performances on the pitch,is the affect that the saga with Ashley is having on Rafa.Despite how he feels about NUFC,he looks to me like a guy whose already got his mind on other things.I’m sure he’ll be as professional as always,but he has had enough of Ashley’s nonsense – and who can blame him!?

    • Steven05

      Spot on

    • Kneebotherm8

      No one with half a brain could blame him……..just the half wit,usual suspects, on here will say we’re best being shot him…

      • magpiefifer

        And those who have been hibernating for the past 11 years!!!

        • Kneebotherm8

          Fckn ostriches or SD employees…..

  • SuperDesHamilton

    Just say the weirdos go there wish & Benitez went, who would they like in charge? The answers could be comedy gold

    • Kneebotherm8

      The answers WILL be comedy gold……no self respecting,half decent,manager is gonna take this job on the time Ashley is at the helm.

      • SuperDesHamilton

        Scrape the barrel then scrape again, we’ll gets what left…if where lucky

      • S.G.M.

        Rafa took the job.

        • Kneebotherm8

          He took the job on and nearly three years of broken promises and bare faced lies….means………no self respecting,half decent,manager is gonna take this job on the time Ashley is at the helm…..

  • NUFC17

    Ashley will be sitting with a big fat smug grin watching the Geordies turning on the best manager they could wish for.

    This is playing right into his hands, this is how he wins. He is divides and conquers.

    Fans are once again turning on each other because they are frustrated, take out your frustration on the cancer eating our club (Ashley), not the only person trying to hold it together.

  • Alreet

    Nailed it. Al knows the score. Against chelsea and man city we werent given a hope for obvious reasons but tactics almost paid off. Whereas against a not so fluent arsenal side I thought we could get a peice of something.

    We are in the predicament that we do need to play the different players for the bigger games coz our squad is worse than thread bare. We do need to make it count against palace leicester and the others now though. No mistakes.

    We will go on a nice run and the freebies and the big name 9.5 mill muto will start screaming up the charts……………….. yea right.

    Lets just pray for the day that the fat slug goes back to his rock and we get an “Usmanov” or a “dimitry abramovic” roll across the tyne. Come on you dirty oil money.

    • We have the dirty money, but he doesn’t want to invest it in the club. Ashley is more than capable of sustaining a club with say Everton/West Ham wage base and spending power but chooses not to.

  • Again, you can see teams have players on the bench who can make such a huge difference and almost their entire squad are Internationals!
    I applaud Rafa for not risking Shelvey and Rondon, since the risk wasn’t worth it. We needed a player who can run with the ball from the midfield. I wish Rafa would take Fernandez to play in the midfield he can pass, cross and defend leagues better than Hayden. I think the season starts with Palace next week. We need to take something from that game and you can bet, Rafa will start and try to get the win no matter what.