Newcastle United did ok in the first half on Saturday.

The better team before the break and a succession of corners giving hope of a goal.

Never really looked like scoring but on the other hand, Martin Dubravka hadn’t had a save to make either.

Arsenal couldn’t surely be as bad as they were in that first half and so it proved.

Torreira came off the bench and started to get the Gunners playing some football but Newcastle’s collapse was far more dramatic than any upturn in Arsenal’s football.

A goal does of course give confidence and belief, then to have Ozil follow up only nine minutes later with the killer second, it was game over and the visitors could enjoy themselves.

Managers always say that conceding a goal is not a disaster in most circumstances BUT then leaking a second one quickly is a cardinal sin.

So it proved on Saturday, when conceding you need your players to stand up and be counted, to make sure that whatever happens you don’t go two behind and pretty much ensure you are going to lose.

As soon as Xhaka’s free-kick hit the back of the next, Newcastle went to pieces. Nobody took responsibility whether we had possession or not and it was obvious that a second goal was inevitable.

Of course, once they did go 2-0 up, Arsenal predictably did step off the gas a bit and cruised to victory, this maybe gave some people the illusion that we were back in the match a little bit.

The truth of course was that Newcastle weren’t, nervous in possession and clueless as to how to create/score a goal to get us back into the game, at te back we also looked very suspect when Arsenal rapidly counter-attacked.

Maybe the defining thing for me is that after Jamaal Lascelles went off, I couldn’t even hazard a guess as to who took over as captain, based purely on what I was watching.

The word that springs to my mind on Saturday is ‘spineless’, for two different reasons.

I think there was definitely a lack of fight/effort from some players, certainly once going a goal down. When I talk about fight and effort I don’t just mean in terms of running about and putting tackles in etc, to me it also encompasses players being prepared to take responsibility and keep the ball, try to create and inspire those around them.

I would also use ‘spineless’ in terms of the whole structure of the team. It is usually accepted that getting the spine of any team right, is essential before you can achieve anything.

Last season, safety was achieved once Rafa Benitez was able to put Dubravka on the pitch, behind central defenders Lascelles and Lejeune, who in turn had Shelvey and Diame in front of them, then Dwight Gayle putting himself about up front, his running unsettling the opposition even if goals were a rarity for the striker.

Of course we did have Dubravka on Saturday and he did ok, though maybe could have done better with the two goals, based on his own high standards.

However, once Lascelles went off, we had Fernandez and Clark, Diame and Hayden, with Joselu up front.

I’m sorry but that set-up was never ever going to be good enough once Arsenal woke up AND they aren’t even that good, top six at a push but no way they will be in the Champions League places.

Diame was left trying to do everything with Hayden the worst player on the pitch, whilst Joselu is simply nowhere near good enough. Clark is a decent squad player but with Lascelles going off, it is a huge drop in ability/influence.

I like Fernandez and think he is a decent signing but he can/could only do so much.

Starting at Palace, we have to get the spine of the team right, assuming Lascelles shakes off his twisted ankle picked up on Saturday, if we have him and Fernandez in front of Dubravka, Shelvey back in alongside Diame, and Rondon up front, Newcastle will have something to build on.

Solid partnership at the back with the keeper and centre-backs, Shelvey always happy to get on the ball and Diame allowed then to do what he does best in tidying up and pressurising, whilst Rondon can give that essential threat and focus of attack.

The way the team folded against Arsenal and not enough players assumed responsibility, was totally unacceptable.

Character and discipline were the main ingredients in the relative success of last season and we need the same again if on the pitch disaster has any choice of being avoided this time.

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  • Kenny

    Rafas running down his contract, some players want to leave, some players have reverted to being useless & the good ones are either injured or not playing.
    complete shambles.

    • Peaky

      Yes,definitely now at the start of “the long goodbye”…

      • Milburn_Taylor

        I like that song

        • Peaky

          Knew it was a book & film but not a song….just googled…Ronan Keating I believe did a version.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    As usual Ashley has thought Rafa is good enough to keep us up because of last seasons efforts.
    I am positive Ashley in his warped mind thinks that if you have the right manager in place then it doesn’t matter about the rag tag sub standard set of players you have assembled, Because that said manager can work miracles with them.
    Rafa has to a large extent but that can only work for so long before it catches up with you.

    One point on board from 15 going into a match against Palace followed by Leicester then Man Utd.
    Failure in these three then it is looking a good bet for “The Calorie Challenged One” to achieve a goal of three relegations in his time at this club.

  • Leazes.

    The owner positioned the club at fifteenth …..again, crossed his finger and hoped for no injuries, suspensions, or loss of form….. there’s a big flaw in this strategy.

    ….crossing your fingers doesn’t work!

    What did happen to the Sky money…..the season ticket money…..the merchandise payment…….the Ed Sheeran concert money?

    Can’t wait for the Supporters Liaison meeting with Charnley…..

    Supporter…..’What are you doing about wheelchair access to the Sports Bar?’

    Charnley…..’I’m glad you asked that question [thinks: thought it would be harder than this, I wonder if anyone has noticed that its Eddie Rutherford the maintenance bloke?]….

    …..We are currently looking into the matter!’

    Supporter…..’Do you think that Eddie Rutherford and the maintenance team deserve a pay rise?’

    Charnley…..’We are currently looking into the matter!’ …..

    Supporter from the back….’What happened to the Sky mo…’

    Charnley…….’Sorry no more questions till 2021’….[phew]

    • Ron

      Charnley…….’Sorry no more questions till 2021’….[phew]
      or “I know I put it somewhere, have you seen my desk? It might still be in the top drawer but can’t find the key, was it very much?”

    • Milburn_Taylor

      i think he has miscalculated by a couple of positions

  • morryJR

    Spineless is the word! As if it wasn’t bad enough that we don’t have consistent players…it now seems that Rafa has three sulky disinterested players to deal with. Two who think that if they play really badly they will be released in January..and another who has lost interest ..maybe because he was hoping for a big move in the summer transfer window and didn’t get it. I’ve got two things to say to these so called professionals….one is Grow Up and the other is how about growing a conscience? They are obviously not bothered about letting the side..manager or fans down.. but at the same time feel no guilt about picking up a hefty pay cheque every month. A comforting arm around the shoulder is not what they need..but a blast in their ear from the likes of Sir Alex or Sir Bobby something to make them focus on what they are meant to be there for.

  • disqus_XQXm6KjMkq

    You are beating a willing but nearly dead horse! NUFC buys “the best of the left-over worst” then sends them out like cannon fodder against the good teams. Against the also-rans, they struggle mightily to find the points needed to survive and save face. This will not end until the FA adopts salary caps, roster limits and a draft of UK players.

  • Milburn_Taylor

    that Newcastle squad would struggle in the Championship

  • Mike

    So at the end of the day who takes responsibility? 10 corners wasted, best player on the bench? even if they played the first half?

  • Martin

    Get over it man. We were beaten by better players. There is a reason why Lacazette costs £50 million and Joselu costs £5.