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Garth Crooks – Newcastle United didn’t realise their ‘winter break’ had ended

2 years ago

Garth Crooks wasn’t impressed with Steve Bruce’ team on Sunday.

The BBC Sport pundit talking about ‘a Newcastle side which didn’t seem to realise that their winter break had come to an end.’

Much was made of the different approaches by the two clubs to this mid-season break.

Mikel Arteta taking his team away to Dubai to work with the players as a group.

Whilst Steve Bruce gave his players a week off after playing Oxford in the FA Cup replay, talking/joking about that decision at the time, Bruce said: ‘I have had enough of them [the players] and they have had enough of me, they are sick of the sight of me. So, let them all go on and do what they have to do, some of them are going to see their family, some of them are going to find the sun. Just let them have four, five, six, seven days off and let them just recover and see what we have got in, hopefully, ten or eleven days time.’

That approach doesn’t sound so much of a joke in the aftermath of that 4-0 hammering at Arsenal as Newcastle fell apart in the second-half.

The need for work and preparation on the training pitch was also surely even more needed when you take into account that both Lazaro and Rose were making their very first starts for Newcastle and it was only Bentaleb’s second PL start for NUFC.

Garth Crooks picked Nicolas Pepe as his man of the match but he was given a lot of assistance by Newcastle in the second half.

In his first six months in the Premier League, Pepe has only been involved directly in three goals, scoring two and one assist. He doubled that on Sunday.

His flighted cross saw Aubameyang somehow left unmarked to head home, then Pepe himself scored as the visiting defence opened up.

Ozil added a third helped by Dubravka’s error and then Pepe set Lacazette up for the fourth.

It was  the first time in 12 months that Arsenal had scored more than three in a PL match and ended a run of only two wins in 17 PL matches.

The reaction to the result was predictably over the top from an Arsenal point of view, as Pepe and friends are unlikely to have it so easy in upcoming games.

As for Newcastle fans, they watched on as Steve Bruce’s luck well and truly ran out, so often this season the opposition have failed to punish NUFC after dominating games.

With only 6 points from a possible 24, Newcastle now face a Palace team that have picked up only 9 points from a possible 33, it looks very much like the type of match where if somebody loses, they will be looking over their shoulder and frantically checking the other results.

Garth Crooks talking to BBC Sport:

“We have had to wait a little while for this young man [Nicolas Pepe] to feature prominently in an Arsenal shirt.

“However, against a Newcastle side which didn’t seem to realise that their winter break had come to an end, Pepe looked as though he had actually benefited from the seasonal interruption.

“For the first time it looked like the Ivorian was running the show and I must say he looked impressive.

“The ball for Aubameyang to score was a beautifully flighted pass.

“There was also something about his game that reminded me of Liam Brady. I’m not sure if it was the way he carried himself or that left foot, but whatever it was it’s one hell of a good sign.

“Did you know?

“Pepe was involved in three goals against Newcastle (1 goal, 2 assists), as many as he had been in his previous 13 Premier League appearances (2 goals, 1 assist).”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Arsenal 4 Newcastle 0 – Sunday 16 February 2020 4.30pm



Aubameyang 54, Pepe 57, Ozil 90, Lacazette 90+5

Possession was  Arsenal 69%, Newcastle 31%

Total shots were Arsenal 15 Newcastle 10

Shots on target were Arsenal 7, Newcastle 2

Corners were Arsenal 5, Newcastle 6

Crowd: 60,188 (3,000 Newcastle)

Referee: Lee Mason

Newcastle team v Arsenal:

Dubravka, Lazaro (Hayden 74), Fernandez (Ritchie 75), Lascelles, Clark (Schar 83), Rose, Sean Longstaff, Bentaleb, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton

Unused Subs

Darlow, Matty Longstaff, Lejeune, Atsu

(Latest Steve Bruce comments on Joelinton prove the disaster of Mike Ashley picking who Newcastle sign – Read HERE)

(Steve Bruce further exposed on Sunday – No other Premier League club would have entertained him – Read HERE)

(Mikel Arteta talks after gratefully accepting the gifts/goals Newcastle United presented to Arsenal – Read HERE)

(Arsenal 4 Newcastle 0 – Watch official match highlights here as NUFC collapse after decent first half – Watch HERE)

(Arsenal 4 Newcastle 0 – Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Steve Bruce desperate for positives after Arsenal 4 Newcastle 0 – Delighted with 2 players, pleased with Joelinton – Read HERE)

(Arsenal 4 Newcastle 0 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Sunday’s dismal defeat – Read HERE)


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