Phil Thompson was covering the Newcastle v Arsenal match for Sky Sports this afternoon.

Asked to sum the game up by host Jeff Stelling, the former Liverpool player made clear he’d found it a strange experience.

Phil Thompson couldn’t believe how bad Arsenal were in the first half, saying Newcastle dominated but really struggled to threaten Petr Cech.

Arsenal took the lead on 49 minutes and he says it had a profound effect on both sides.

All of Arsenal’s players suddenly wanted the ball, whilst for Newcastle he says it like ‘switching the light off’, the home side allowing a ‘procession’ for Arsenal as they comfortably saw out the win.

Maybe the most baffling thing of all for Phil Thompson, was Rafa’s use (or not) of certain substitutes.

The Sky Sports pundit having no idea as to why the Newcastle boss didn’t change things earlier than he did AND how on earth Shelvey and Rondon were left on the bench for the whole duration.

Jeff Stelling:

“What did you think of Newcastle’s performance?”

Phil Thompson:

“It was probably predictable.

“Newcastle had a go, and it was a lot better, a lot different.

“First half they dominated but they didn’t have enough clear chances. They got a lot of balls into the box, they competed, they were better than Arsenal…Arsenal wee very poor – buyt you just thought, because they (Newcastle) didn’t get a goal, you worried for them.

“You thought, you need this goal to alleviate anything that might be coming.

“This game all changed on the 49th minute, a free-kick form Xhaka. He sizes it up 25 yards out, hits it over the wall and maybe Dubravka could have…because he gets  good hands to it – but it goes in.

“It was like switching the light off for Newcastle.

“(After that) It was just like a procession (for Arsenal)…so many of the Arsenal players now wanted the ball.

“It was shocking, because when Newcastle did get the ball, they gave it back to Arsenal, and that must have infuriated Benitez.

“Ozil hits it (for the second goal) and again, Dubravka I think could have done a bit better.

“That is it really.

“I know Clark got a goal back in the 91st minute but this was a procession for Arsenal.

“Shelvey didn’t come on and Rondon didn’t come on, he’d (Rondon) been away on international duty, but Joselu had ran himself into the ground.

“I’m thinking, come on. You are thinking come on, you have to change this, and he (Rafa Benitez) didn’t do it.

“Quite baffling.

“He brings Muto on. I haven’t seen enough of him to know whether or not this is a good move or not…but certainly you would have wanted Rondon on before that, certainly Shelvey (as well).

“Newcastle had all that possession in the first half but didn’t trouble Petr Cech.”

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 v Arsenal – Read HERE)

  • Kenny

    The game was lost as soon as the 2nd goal went in & Rafa knew it and that is why Jonjo & Rondon were left on the bench, it looks like madness but in reality they would have made little impact on the game and he kept them back so they would be 100% for next week.
    me, i would have played them both.

    • Leazes.

      A lot of people are struggling with the concept of playing the ‘percentage game’…. they analyse the ninety minutes in isolation.

      It worked last season and we picked up 10 points against top 6 clubs….I don’t think it’ll happen again because the squad is already picking up injuries and suspensions, and the opposition now know what to expect.

      Will Ashley panic in January, buy some players and cross his chubby fingers and hope it will work, or panic and pay out Rafa’s contract, and replace him with a Journeyman, …..

      ……or not panic and just relegate the club again pile on some debt and keep the club doing the same thing over and over and over.

      • Will In Despair!

        Dear gowd, I was sitting early chatting with mates; I commented that I don’t really care anymore, 11 years since going, an ejected supporter and more, hate to say I actually said this 😱

        One 0dious obnoxious goit – never, fick him, as someone once said, We Are A City, fick him!

        He is behind everything that’s bad and rotten about Newcastle United, our club!

      • Kenny

        True we hardly had any injuries last season, this one is turning into a nightmare

  • Will In Despair!

    Doomed, thanks MA

  • Paul Patterson

    After 0-2, it was a case of keeping powder dry for next time out. Can’t blame the manager for that, getting a goal back kept the GD down. That’s what we’ve been reduced to under this owner . .

    • fistsofsteel2

      You mean under this manager.

    • Martin Rooney

      Keeping powder dry what on Earth does that mean in the context of sport?
      Clark should how week their defence was and how useless hos is how and why he, our striker didn’t know to head the ball downward minutes earlier is unbelievable

      • Kenny

        Troll 🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡

  • Martin

    It’s not baffling at all. Arsenal’s squad is valued at £300 million more than the Newcastle squad. Ask a set of school kids to pick two teams and they will automatically try and pick fair teams to make it a good game. Just another uncompetitive Premier League game despite Sky’s hype.

    • Leazes.

      Its baffling to the chronicle boys, they haven’t a clue about the nature of the problems or what Rafa is doing…. again you see the analysis on isolation.

      he’s basically keeping each game within reach because he understands the strengths at his disposal and the strengths of the opposition, Rafa does his homework.

      Unfortunately for fans of entertainment he wants to avoid relegating the club on his last shift here.

      • Martin Rooney

        Oh efffing please, the Rafa apologists like yourself need to give yasel a shake man Rafas bought white and we’re stuck with it for a long time, long after hecwill have left.

        • Kenny

          Back in your box, Troll

          • Martin Rooney

            Don’t have box numpty just a seat like other real Newcastle fans.

            Rafa”s tactics are poor and his purchases are worse than carr’s

          • Kenny

            You’re a troll now [email protected]@k off

          • Martin Rooney

            You’re really dense, the thickest fella in here*, I sometimes wonder why I bother but then the image of a little bloke stomping around like Rumplestiltskin in a shrunken 30 year old toon top, makes me laugh, that is your caricature.
            So carry on with your abuse it gives me great pleasure.

            *Other numpties come very close but Kenny edges it for consistency.

          • Geordiegiants

            🤬 Your a fuckineedjit. What else could anyone do with this sort of budget?
            Howare let’s here your strategy?

          • Martin Rooney

            Fans to own the club.

            Use attacking players to attack rather than defend.

            Last year the club bought 2 left wingers in August and one in January.
            Sent one back up striker on loan and decided to cut one international from the picture, whilst buying Joselu. Laterly replacing the international with muto then swapping Gayle for rondon who has a worse goal scoring record than Gayle.
            Sold mbemba who is a really good CB for a pittance then bought lesser replacements including right back landing us with manquillo for another three years. Ostracised the ginger midfielder back up paying his wages whilst buying keeping Hayden both of whom are similar standing add to that all the agents fees involved in these bad purchases, there’s been plenty money in the pot which the club has wasted.

            By club I mean Rafa.

          • Paul Patterson

            When anybody comes out and says ‘Fans to own the club’, you lose any sort of argument. I WON’T happen and CAN’T happen. There’s not enough money to do it.
            And could you imagine the arguments? It’s a complete non-starter . .

          • Martin Rooney

            Only because the fans don’t want it really. I do so that’s my strategy for making it better the directors would be voted in by the members for a two year term who would pay a yearly fee. If it can work at massive clubs like fcb and real Madrid it can work at nufc

          • Geordiegiants

            Well get yourself a job as a premier league manger and see how long you last.

          • Benji

            don’t bother mate. the rafa worshippers (ie lowlife morons like jezza and wezza, paul, billmag etc will never admit to anything he gets wrong. bad signings, strange team selections, wrong tactics, stupids sub, all loses and draws to any opposition from any league will all be Ashley’s fault. any win will result in more god like praise for Lord Rafa.

          • Danimal

            Gayle, Ritchie, Clark, Yedlin, Lejeune, Dubravka, Kenedy. All very good Rafa signings at the time. The first four ensured promotion, the other three kept us up. But under Ashley, we will always fail to upgrade and continue to build as necessary, so the pressure is on Rafa or whoever is next to keep buying on the cheap and hope to unearth some good ones along the way.

          • Martin Rooney

            That’s seven out of 22 signings and Kennedy’s a loan

          • Mark Davies

            Quite ironic that you call anyone who disagrees with you or leazes opinion a troll thereby trolling yourself.

            I believe its called debate and true trolling is just calling people names etc for the sake of it, ergo, you are in fact the biggest troll on here.

            As for yesterday I cant agree with Rafa’s team selection or poor use of subs. I wouldnt let hayden in the ground let alone play him. He’s not just bad but he wants away. Im just hoping our season starts properly next week and Rafa tries to attack a team.

  • Leicester Mag

    The lights went out a long time ago and won’t go back on until this parasite leaves

  • killymag

    Is Rafa keeping the powder dry until we are relegated ffs.Starting that wan-er Hayden

    • Geordiegiants

      Do you think he wanted to? Do you not realise other players are carrying slight knocks?

  • robbersdog

    It must be great being a football pundit on Sky; you get paid a shedload of money to watch telly and then sneer at players and managers from the comfort of the studio, and you can slag off managers who are better at football management than you ever were, and who don’t have to resort to punditry to earn a living.

    All you need to do the job are some Hugo Boss suits, a couple of ties that would’ve been fashionable in the 1980s and enough patter to fool the punters into believing that you’re some kind of guru.

  • kingfisher

    The problem with having Rafa as Manager is that we expect and hope for better things.We all know what he’s capable of and we live in hope that success is just around the corner, and with a proper owner this could become a reality,but is this false hope?
    Are we approaching the end game for Rafa,and if so,what comes next? Would it really be a bad thing to be relegated, as obviously every team finds their level and we are not Premiership standard,playing wise and business wise.

    Personally speaking, football should be about excitement,enjoyment and hopes of success,not fighting relegation and playing dire,defensive football and if that means being relegated then so be it.I found our spell in the Championship infinately more pleasurable than the struggling, boring mundane football that we play in the Prem.
    When we were in the Championship our attendances proved that the 50,000 don’t care what level of football they pay to see as long as they get their matchday fix so it’s a win win situation.

    • Geordiegiants

      I have said it for years now, I would happily join the inbreds if it meant being cured of the cancer.

      • kingfisher

        Yes Geordie,you’re right.I think we may have to be relegated, and Rafa to go then Ashley may give up,then hopefully we will be able to regroup,wipe the slate clean and start from scratch.Short term pain for long term gain.

        • Geordiegiants

          Definitely, look at Wimbledon they were ripped to bits by their owner. The fans got together and look at where they are now. Slowly but surely they are on their way up, we could do it much better and quicker with our fans. I recon about 20/25000 would be interested as a big part of our support are just day trippers these days, but it could be done with enough of the proper fans, there would also be a mass influx of the older fans that are staying away would come back into the fold.

  • Toontaff

    Whilst 0-2 maybe was the time Rafa decided the game was up, why not change it at 0-1? Why have Rondon or Shelvey on the bench, if they’re not fit? As for Kenedy and Hayden………whilst Joselu misses a header my late gran would have buried!

  • Taz

    Dont usually agree with anything thistitsays but I was confused as to why Ron and jj were on the bench. ( if they are fit play them if not don’t put them on the bench. As for Hayden wtf is the point of him? I am still unsure as to why Ritchie is always subbed, We could have took this game to them in the first half. ….. must try harder :( raffa is awesome but I am struggling to understand his thinking.

    • Ron

      Huge surprise you saying I wason the bench!

    • Geordiegiants

      He doesn’t have other player to fill the bench. What do you want him to do, name a bench with only 4 or 5 players on and start the game looking weak.?

      • Taz

        So are you saying we only have 15 players at newcastle that are capable of kicking a ball where are the others, they all can’t be broken. Unfortunately We don’t need to look weak, we are weak, no matter who is on the bench. Sad but true

        • Geordiegiants

          Yeah, basically the answer is in your question!

          • Taz

            I haven’t asked a question, more of a statement really…

  • Albert Stubbins

    I cannot for the life of me understand why Rondon and Shelvey never played a part yesterday. If they weren’t fit they wouldn’t have been on the bench. Rafa tried to teach Kennedy a lesson by putting him on the bench. If he’s going tongue to give murphy a start then give him a full game or a run of games. Haydn isn’t good enough end of. He hasn’t done anything to warrant a start for the team. He wants away. He isn’t committed to the team,neither is Kennedy so don’t play them. Rondon scored two in midweek but doesn’t get a sniff and joselu should only ever play if there are no other fit strikers. My head was red with all the scratching it took yesterday. Our most influential player didn’t even get on. What must Shelvey be thinking. We missed a trick yesterday. Arsenal were there for the taking but the team we had out on the pitch yesterday wouldn’t have beat Arsenal ladies!! We haven’t a great team everyone knows that but if we can get our best eleven out there on the pitch at the same time then we can give most teams a game as proven last season. Why didn’t Rafa do that yesterday. Is there something going on behind the scenes that the paying public arnt aware of here?

    • nufcslf

      Yip and Thompson is absolutely spot on as well.