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3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Sunday – Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2

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Sunday afternoon’s match ended Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2.

Ahead of each match we ask one of our writers to come up with 3 positives and 3 negatives following the game.

A shocking match that Arsenal dominated throughout, despite making eight changes to their first choice eleven.

This time it is Billy Miller:

POSITIVES

I Missed The First Six Minutes

You can tell right from the off that I am struggling for positives today.

I got home from shopping, turned on my TV and found that my Sky box wasn’t connecting with my router. After some turning off and on again, I had the game on. We were six minutes in and one goal down. Maybe I should have turned it off again.

Little Chance Of Going Down

I almost said zero chance but I shouldn’t do that until it’s mathematically certain.

It would be astonishing if Fulham did manage to win all four of their final games though and you’d like to think we could do a job at home to bottom club Sheffield United.

If any team were to somehow allow this to go to the final game, it would be Steve Bruce’s Newcastle.

As much as I admire Scott Parker’s fighting talk and continued insistence on trying to play football to get out of trouble, I just can’t see how they are going to win all of their games. They’ve only won five all season so nearly doubling that in the last stretch seems a tall order.

Staying up will only be a true positive for Newcastle United if we have a change of ownership and manager though. Or else it’s just another season of the same.

The Implosion Of The Elite

We’ve spent the years protesting against Mike Ashley’s lack of ambition.

Now football fans of the Greedy Six are protesting their owners’ overambition.

It’s great to see the wake-up call these disconnected owners and executives are getting. I have to applaud some of the fans at these clubs for the way they’ve fought back.

It was a fun sideshow watching the TV images of fans running rampant around Old Trafford and firing flares into the stands. It will be interesting to see if these fans are vilified or lauded by pundits and spectators. You can guarantee if we’d pulled a stunt like this we would be getting pelters.

NEGATIVES

Could’ve Made The Gunners Goners

Arsenal are a team that I’ve enjoyed watching slump into mediocrity.

They hounded out their most successful manager of all time and yet we’re the deluded/ungrateful fanbase for wanting rid of a man who is overseeing some of the worst football we’ve produced in the Premier League era.

As another member of the Greedy Six it would have been nice to see us really stick it to them and leave them floundering in the bottom half, but it wasn’t to be.

If Villarreal finish the job on Thursday, there will be no route to European football for Arsenal next season through the Europa League and it would have been great to dent (end?) their chances of achieving it through the Premier League as well.

Poor Performance Against A Poor Opponent

Not only is this Arsenal team one of their worst of the Premier League era, they made eight changes before this game.

They still have a lot of good players but they were a team that we could and should have got at today. This is a side that started the day in 11th and could still slip to 10th once Villa play their game in hand.

It’s looking like it’ll be a battle for them to finish any higher than 9th this season, which is a place worse than their shocking campaign last year.

Even their captain and best player has scored less than half the goals this season than he did in his previous two. On nine goals at the start of play, Aubameyang hadn’t scored in any competition for nearly two months, since the 1-1 draw at Burnley on the 6th of March. Of course, he had to break his duck and get his tenth of the season against us though.

Apart from a couple of half decent runs from ASM in the first half, we didn’t show any ambition all game and every player was disappointing.

Officially Useless

It was a day that saw Almiron get a booking when he didn’t touch a player, Wilson get penalised for Gabriel throwing himself to the floor after minimal contact, Schar get sent off for a silly but fairly innocuous challenge and Xhaka not get sent off, despite being on a yellow card and clearly and cynically blocking off Sean Longstaff.

Refereeing is so inconsistent regardless of VAR. VAR just makes it even worse. I don’t understand why VAR can’t assess more scenarios either. Almiron only got a booking in the first half which is why the decision wasn’t reviewed. However, his challenge shouldn’t have even been a free-kick, let alone a booking. The consequence being that Miggy was then on a yellow card for a large portion of the game and couldn’t make any more challenges without risking a red.

Wilson’s foul on Gabriel saw the Brazilian trying to shield the ball against our number 13. Wilson, trying to get ahead, caught Gabriel on the shoulder with a couple of fingertips and the defender threw himself to the ground, winning a cheap free-kick. Referees and officials need to be stronger here. It’s hard to assess precisely how much contact can cause a player to go down but some common sense should prevail. Why not do the same in that scenario as for a potential offside? Let Wilson collect the ball from the prone Gabriel and stick it in the net and then assess on VAR whether the contact was sufficient to put him down. This would teach a few lessons to those that do crumple at the slightest touch and would mean that we our contact sport back.

Xhaka had been booked early and couldn’t have been more blatant when he blocked off Sean Longstaff, who had played the ball forward and was trying to break away. Had he not been on a booking, he would have got one. Inconsistent again.

Finally, Schar’s challenge was daft. He lunged in, in a nothing area of the pitch whilst we had numbers back and there was little danger. The game was also gone so we should have just been seeing it out. But all this aside, the tackle was a yellow at most. I would say the same had it been one of their players that had made the challenge. Studs were down, he wasn’t out of control. He just tried to nick the ball with a slide. From one of the angles, it looks like his foot actually goes between both of Martinelli’s and there is little contact at all. VAR checked it and deemed that it wasn’t an obvious mistake. Well it was.

It’s hard to make a case for VAR to assess more scenarios as they take so long and do such a poor job on the ones they are currently assessing. However, it is hugely frustrating how poor officiating and implementing of VAR has been over the last couple of years. It’s also pitiful watching this sport become more and more lightweight, with the lightest of touches deemed to be a foul.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2 – Sunday 2 May 2pm

Goals:

Newcastle:

Schar red card 90

Arsenal:

Elneny 5, Aubameyang 66

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was Arsenal 62% (61%) Newcastle 38% (39%)

Total shots were Arsenal 19 (13)  Newcastle 5 (3)

Shots on target were Arsenal 5 (3) Newcastle 1 (1)

Corners were Arsenal 7 (4) Newcastle 3 (2)

Referee: Mike Dean

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Murphy, Fernandez (Schar 72), Clark (Gayle 84), Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Almiron (Joelinton 73), Wilson, Saint-Maximin

Unused Subs:

Mark Gillespie, Emil Krafth, Jamal Lewis, Matty Longstaff, Jeff Hendrick, Elliot Anderson

Crowd: 00,000

(Steve Bruce finally runs out of luck – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Sunday’s defeat – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Arsenal Reserves 2 – Total capitulation from Steve Bruce – Read HERE)

You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin

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