The agony and the ecstacy (almost) – Newcastle 4 – 4 Arsenal.

Posted on February 6th, 2011 | 40 Comments |

The Lion King leaves Arsenal reeling.
The Lion King leaves Arsenal reeling.
It’s hard to know where to start really with an account of a game like this one.

To use one of the most common cliches in football, it was almost a game of two halves. To be more precise, it was one game in the first fifty minutes, the point where Arsenal, in a seemingly unassailable position at 4-0 up, decided to press the self destruct button in magnificent fashion. This is not to say however that Newcastle didn’t deserve enormous credit too for one of the most miraculous comebacks in recent memory, and even more miraculously, with a little help from the referee, something to which Newcastle are not generally accustomed.

Starting at the beginning though, it took less than a minute for Arsenal to score their first goal. Newcastle started the game with a new formation which looked quite alot like Arsenal’s own 4-2-3-1, with Tiote and Barton playing the deeper role in midfield, with Nolan, Gutierrez and Lovenkrands supporting striker, Leon Best up at the front.

Almost from the kick-off, their back line seemed to be pushing way too far up the pitch, and Andrey Arshavin took almost immediate advantage of the Magpies’ woeful tactical blunder. After around only forty seconds of the game, he made a speculative pass which passed straight through the Magpies’s centre back pairing of Wiliamson and Coloccini. Arsenal gun-dog, Theo Walcott, was immediately on to it at speed, slotting it straight past Steve Harper. 0-1.

The Magpies capitulated once again a mere two minutes later as Danny Simpson pulled Cesc Fabregas. Once again, it was Andrey Arshavin who floated the resulting free kick straight on to the head of Djourou, and once again straight into the back of Steve Harper’s goal. 0-2.

It took a whole seven minutes for the next one to come, the first of two goals by Arsenal hitman, Robin Van Persie. Walcott took advantage of a sloppy defence, having the space to slip through a daisycutting pullback straight to the feet of the Flying Dutchman for a relatively easy finish. 0-3.

It was Sagna’s turn next time to repeat the process after 26 minutes, this time slipping through a more lofted ball on to the head of a once again unmarked Van Persie, who made easy work of the resulting header. 0-4.

That was it for Arsenal though, thankfully despite one or two further chances, Newcastle somehow managed to staunch the bleeding. Then, Arsenal, and specifically, Abou Diaby, pressed the self destruct button for Arsenal in what proved to be the fulcrum of the game. Reacting to very firm challenge by Joey Barton, he grabbed the midfielder’s neck and pushed him to the ground, leaving Arsenal one man down.

Newcastle obviously took some heart from this, and never gave up. However it took a further 18 minutes or so for Newcastle United’s magnificent fightback to truly begin though. Striker, Leon Best, was pulled, then pushed to the ground earning the home side a penalty. Joey Barton took the spot kick, taking a very short run up then slotting the ball past Arsenal goalkeeper, Wojcheich Szczesny with excellent placement at the side of the goal. 1-4.

Almost immediatley after the penalty, when the Arsenal keeper decided to react in a petty and childish fashion by refusing to give the ball back to Newcastle, Nolan reacted with equal stupidity to that of Diaby earlier by pushing the Pole to the ground in a similar manner as Diaby did with Barton. Both Nolan and Szczesny received yellow cards.

The next highlight came when Best scored what looked to be a perfectly good goal, with Arsenal’s Tomáš Rosický leaving him well onside. The linesman missed him though, and the goal was ruled out. It took next to no time though for Best to reduce the deficit still further with a goalmouth strike, with the game truly on now. It is worth mentioning with some irony at this point that Leon Best was recommended to previous Newcastle United manager, Chris Hughton, by none other than Arsenal assistant, Liam Brady. 2-4.

A good chance from substitute, Nile Ranger was also worthy of mention as the Magpies continued to heap pressure on a now worried Arsenal. Szczesny saved well to deny the youngster though.

The next real staging post in Newcastle’s journey to eventual parity came, however, with what even I have to admit was a somewhat dubious penalty decistion from referee, Phil Dowd. However, it did make up for the lousy offside decision! A long Newcastle free kick was lofted into the penalty area in the direction of Newcastle centre back, Mike Williamson who judged to have received a push which seemed like nothing much at all. Phil Dowd shocked the Arsenal squad by once again pointing to the spot. It was a much closer effort straight down the middle this time, with the ball almost coming back off Szczesny’s legs in what was truly nerve wracking stuff! 3-4.

The greatest highlight of the game was still to come though, from a man who was, arguably, the man of the match. Another Barton free kick bounced off the wall, ballooning nicely to the feet of a player known far more for his sterling defensive midfield work than his scoring. However, Cheik “Lion King” Tiote casually struck what was undoubedtly one of the volleys of the season so far. A truly magnificent strike which just eluded Szczesny. 4-4.

A nerve jangling eight minutes (including five minutes of extra time) still remained though. Although the game could still have gone either way, the momentum was undoubetdly with Newcastle United, and if anything, it would have been the Magpies’ who could have stolen it, with a final Kevin Nolan effort going not so wide of the goal. If it had been on target, this might have been one the the greatest victories in the club’s recent history.

It wasn’t to be, sadly, but this was still an amazing game in which all sanity went out of the window, and will, no doubt, be talked about for quite some time to come!


Match highlights and post match interviews.

Newcastle United: Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Sanchez Jose Enrique, Joey Barton, Cheik Tiote, Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands.

Subs: Tim Krul, Danny Guthrie, Michael Richardson, Sol Campbell, Shane Ferguson, Nile Ranger, James Perch.

Arsenal: Wojcheich Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou, Gael Clichy, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Vassinki Diaby, Francesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin, Robin Van Persie.


Barton (pen) 68, Best 75, Barton (pen) 83, Tiote 87.
Arsenal 4 Walcott 1, Djourou 3, van Persie 10, van Persie 26.

Venue: St James’s Park, Newcastle.

Attendance: 51,561.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1091 articles on this blog.

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40 Responses

  1. Nice write up Worky.
    This was a game of too many emotions, from utter dejection to total euphoria. God alone knows what would have happened if Nolan had scored at the death. WoW!
    Now I am just hoping the Lads can learn what went wrong and NOT go there again.
    Pardew spoke sense in his post match ints, unlike the sad wenger who I have no opinions on :lol:
    Over the moon with the point, but we still need to try and get all 3 against B’burn on sat.

  2. I was around my best mates house playing on the Xbox as we kept up with the results. At 4-0 down I was getting it in the neck from his missus who is a Arsenal fan. By the time it was 4-4 she was quiet. Both games she said we would lose this season, and both times I made her eat her words. Hah.

  3. What has been learned?

    Fulham has a very good defensive middle.

    If you saw the game, the look on DL’s face (as well as the lady sitting next to him) shows DL might have learned a valuable lesson.

    In his post match interview, AP has thrown down the gauntlet to MA & DL that players need to come in this summer.

    Danny Simpson seems to have risen to the challenge.

    Leon Best may have arrived as well.

    If you saw the first half of the game shots of AP, in the background Nile Ranger looked wistfully at the Arsenal side, and was making snide comments to Danny Guthrie, but when he came on, he showed a different man and pushed the game to Newcastle getting a result.

    Newcastle has a spine, with each player being a vertebrae, Arsenal has no leadership or guts on the pitch.

  4. Wenger didn’t see the diaby incident. Does he ever watch the games. He’s quick to jump on Barton but didn’t say much about diaby

  5. Okay I’m not sure but I think that our first team, which i think is:

    Simpson Taylor Coloccini Enrique

    Barton Tiote Gosling Ben Arfa



    I think that arguably our strongest team costs as much as Andy Carroll…………… Imagine what we could get for 35mill!!!!!!!!!! Though I would probably put Barton in the middle and Jonas on the right so would be a bit more than the 35 mill

    What do people think about that?!

  6. Good write up – but it was actually the linesman who gave the penalty – the ref didn’t make a decision until he saw that the assistant had crossed his flag over his chest to notify that he’s seen an infringement. Doesn’t change the gist of things as it was the same linesman who missed Rosicky 10 yards away from him when flagging offside for the Best “goal”!

  7. ranger is even better then carrol….holding up the ball..first class for a 19 year old..and he played us into the game..he has changed the game against liverpool..people have slagged the guy off..becasue he hasnt scored..that is very wrong..if he has a crap game it is only..becasue he doesnt get the service…he must be are main striker from..know on..playing him..untill he doesnt put it looks ok …we need a strong man up front..lovenkrands and best..wont hurt nobdy playing together..

  8. Just watched the Chelsea- L’pool game,if Torres is worth £50m, then Carroll was a snip at£35m.

  9. The funniest thing is watching Arsen keep saying I cannot comment on this or that , and I did not see Diaby incident , etc, etc, deep down he is fuming his team as just lost a FOUR – NIL lead and he wishes to verbally give reffing team a good kicking but he can’t for fear of a 50,000 fine !!

  10. Remarkable turnaround, guts and passion their in abundance the place was bouncing. I hope Steven Taylor is nearly ready because Williamson is becoming a liability.

  11. Same old Wenger, what’s surprise ? He just want us the do ” We surrendered, Kill us softly ” Bull shiX ! we will fight to the death ! HWTL !

    As anyone expect, They bemoaned about everything but not themself. Typical Arsenal, That’s why they cannot win major competition with this squad. They’re all child with good football potential. Nothing more nothing less.

  12. Beardsleys Boots says:
    February 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    “Nice write up Worky.
    This was a game of too many emotions, from utter dejection to total euphoria. God alone knows what would have happened if Nolan had scored at the death. WoW!”

    Thanks, BB. There was so much to get in that I actually omitted Nolan’s effort at the end. I’ve corrected that now though.

  13. I gotta say though, I didnt believe it was possible, I sat there at 4-1 down talking to the guy next to me, we both said ” you know ,there will be some daft geordies like us who think we can get back into this” and we both laughed, then one by one, the goals kept coming, when Joey popped the second penalty in we were both screaming ,Do we believe? yes we were shouting…we believe and low and behold Cheik Tiote pops up and volleys from 25yards ………I now know, whatever position you find yourself in….however bad you think the situation is……….there is always a chance,If you believe enough and you want it enough,It builds and builds until the outcome is written.Today the paper reads……..Arsenal throw away a 4 nil lead to draw 4-4 with Newcastle…..I like to believe The mighty Newcastle UNITED, clawed and scrapped and gave everything they had to redeem themselves, and pull back 4 goals to draw with one of the best footballing sides in the world to send their ever faithful fans home with joy in their hearts and belief once again.

    That was my take on it and I hope the feeling never leaves me, I will remember this for the rest of my life and I will say in the pub when Im 97…………I was there !!!!!!!

  14. alrite lads. mental day yesterday i was almost suicidal at half time, was great seeing the arsenal fans stunned into silence. They must be the whingeyest supporters on the face of this planet,and wenger wont be happy until players have to put in a writen request a week in advance to see if its ok to make a challenge. GO HARD OR GO HOME MR.WENGER. maybe the arsenal team would be better suited to netball but then again thatll probably be a bit on the ruffside aswell.

  15. What a game, eh?

    Greatest come back I’ve seen in a long long time.
    Arise sir Joey.

    Does anybody remember the 5-5 game against QPR at Loftus Road in the 80’s? I was there at that match. It was an incredible experience to say the least. From being 4 nil up at half time, it finished 5-5.

    What with Big Jack’s dodgy tactics, Waddle’s hat trick, that plastic pitch and the home team’s disallowed goal, the game had everything. Regardless of what did or didn’t happen on the pitch, both crowds were fantastic that day. It is certainly one of the most unforgettable games I have ever attended – one of those one-offs that you will never forget for the rest of your life.

    It’s a shame that Arsenal can’t see it that way about yesterday.

    …Wenger’s Whinging W@nkers :-)

  16. just back at 3am this morning still half asleep,nice to get up-dated gunners are a very good team they still lack that bit of bottle at times now and again imo,in saying that the toon defending in first half was schoolboy stuff at lot of the times,tiote best player on the field for me

  17. Hmmm ! good writeup, but sounds a bit familiar.
    Have to say the most astounding part of the game was the utter collapse of Arsenal, immediately following the sending off.
    It appears unlike for instance, a team like Stoke, who will fight tooth and nail, not only to protect a lead, but to come from behind as they did this weekend, Arsenal appear to lack a certain character as a team, sure they play pretty football and sure they are stacked with talent.
    But tell me this, who on that side has the will and character to lead them when faced with adversity ?
    What accured brings suspision on the team, it`s my belief most PL sides could have if in the same situation, protected a four goal lead, so what happened.
    Looks like Arsene has some major adjusting to do.
    Face it the club has gone without silverware for quite a number of years, in fact since that old home grown defensive spine retired.

  18. You got all the points out WT but I’m not sure about Tiote as MOTM ? I know you said he was (arguably) MOTM but JB yesterday played that team back into the game almost single handedly IMO.

    I noticed in his post match interview JB said NUFC didnt have a plan for the seond half apart from keeping the score down and avoiding further embarrassment. But his tackling and (some may say) intimidation of the Arsenal players clearly rubbed off on the others particularly after Diaby got sent off.

    Significant that Nolan was the first on the scene when JB was downed by Diaby (not long ago the two of them would have been straight in, squaring up and getting sent off) and their attitude especially after the first penalty went in seemed to upset Arsenal’s rhythm.

    There are those (mainly whingeing Gooners) who say that JB should have been sent off for his tackle on Diaby but most neutrals agreed it was fair and robust and certainly legal. Remembering of course that Joey has had his fair share of “robustness” aimed at him this season, mainly from Karl Henry, but he stood up (as best he could) and got on with it.

    So until we ban tackling from this game forever (which Arsenal would love as they’d win every week) then allow JB to use his influence on the pitch to balance out the odds in our favour wherever possible.

    TBH I never thought I would say this but yesterday was JB’s most intelligent display in a black and white shirt and coupled with his undoubted ability made me choose him for MOTM.

  19. giimps says:
    February 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    “Arsenal throw away a 4 nil lead to draw 4-4 with Newcastle…..I like to believe The mighty Newcastle UNITED, clawed and scrapped and gave everything they had to redeem themselves, and pull back 4 goals to draw with one of the best footballing sides in the world to send their ever faithful fans home with joy in their hearts and belief once again.”

    I think that there was a bit of both, gimps. Arsenal completely imploded like petulant bairns for no apparent reason, and however pretty they look sometimes, they will never be the great side they once were without one or more players like Adams or Viera to steady the ship sometimes.

    On the other hand, it was a truly magnificent effort by the lads to get themselves out of that one somehow and escape with a draw. It could even have been a win with the momentum they had towards the end of the game.

  20. Great game, yet it cant be forgotten that the ref helped the home side big time.

    Almost as if he was paid off. Ive never seen such ropey penalty decisons and the fact that ne was lenient in not sending off Nolan as well. But no team shud ever let a 4 goal lead slip, thats piss poor too!

  21. icedog says:
    February 6, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    “just back at 3am this morning”

    Welcome back, Ice! Hope you had a really nice time.

    I agree with you about “The Lion King”. Barton really seem to take the game by the scruff of the neck too though, and lest it be forgotten, the much derided Leon Best scored two goals really. Danny Simpson also deserved a bit of credit IMO.

  22. Doesn’t make one hapeth of a difference either way. Everyone knows, if you mix Hazel Dean with Gloria Estefan you’re f***ed. Even if it’s re-mixed.


  23. Just want to mention Tiote, whom i had described on occasions as “not the finished article”
    Well in yesterdays game he proved me wrong, his passing was well chosen and precise, he did`nt send any Arsenal players into the stands and what can we say about the left footed volley (not an easy choice, he being right footed)a critical goal.
    Problem is, the better he plays, the more likely others will be making offers Ashley cannot refuse.
    Pardew has already been informed,no one is untouchable and everyone has a price tag.
    No different from any business, buy cheap sell high, not much different from selling sports gear, oh! does that mean players are just another type of sports gear.
    Ah ! dont worry about them, they dont care anyway, like Carroll just means they go to a bigger club for more money.
    But what about loyalty and playing for your boyhood heros club, hey you can always claim you were forced out and a few weeks later who remembers ?

  24. I thought both Barton was Tiote were immense. They both took the game by the nuts and totally showed plenty of spunk.
    They showed coolness and grit and turned what could have been a proper shafting right on it’s head. Barton’s reaction to Diaby’s humping was the Fonzie personified. Nothing wrong with his tackle either.

  25. WORKY aye good trip son has bought a house in malta now a straw off the camels back,and a very large hole in my pocket but what the hell.
    the guy wenger has to pull in-line imo is young whilshire,never liked the little shit but his on- field antics are leading one way.
    see that misfud has moved back to malta i saw his first game back on sat,scored a hat-trick too,at least you can talk to players there,hes got a small wage,but a house and car (and plenty woman)and all that sunshine what more can a man ask :)

  26. Yeah it was in a sense an incredible if not unbelievable scenario, we all watched.
    Except those who headed home or changed channels that is.
    But we are by no means out of danger, what is it seven points seperate us from Wolves, now bottom.
    It`s going to be nail biting time for more than half the clubs in the league, as we go down to the wire.
    What i`m saying is with the combined earnings from the EPL and with ticket sales among the top five, what keeps us from being a competitive side, finishing in the top six and competing in europe.
    Well having the horses to get us there actually, but having an extra thirty five big ones in the bank could certainly help to solve that problem.
    But hey what do I know ?

  27. At the end of the day…..
    Quite funny your use of sexual innuendos to describe the action.
    That your grand-daughter in the photo ?

  28. I’m not that blinkin old ye cheeky bugger :shock:

    That’s a picture of Bree Olsen – a fine up and coming young actress :lol:

    Rod – I’m a Horlicks man meself.

    Helicopter time then bed.

  29. The mistake we always made in the past was spending too much money on players when signing them. What we have now is a group of players who need to be paid more because they deserve it. Considering his worth to the team Andy should have been on 40 to 50 grand. No point crying over it though. Barton is finally worth the reported 60gs he is on and its good news he is willingto stay on the that or less for a nice long contract. Tiote needs to be tied up and given a good deal NOW before the offers come in during the summer. For a big pay rise it might be worth his time to move but for a little maybe he would rather stay. That being said if we are resigned to losing him it makes little sense to pay him more now.

    It was me birthday on the 6th of Feb and I was up at 2am watching the game in Sydney. Best pressie ever.

  30. There seems to be some news seeping through about Interpol investigating this match for a betting scandal. Don’t know if it’s true or not, but time will tell.

    An hour and a half of work to go, I bloody hate nightshift.


  31. off topic but since FIFA are delaying the video technology with goal line cameras why dont they also bring in a challenge system may sound crazy but if it works for cricket and tennis why not football :D

  32. Thought Wenger said nothing wrong as an Arsenal manager like a few have pointed out earlier.

    Wonderful game overall. I was quiet watching it when we were 4:0 down and got even more devastated after realising Asprilla was at the stand. What a poor way to welcome a legend back home?

    Then, we all know how it started after the Diaby sent off.

    I am proud of these players.