Shove it up your Arsene!
St James' Park
Well, another Wembley dream is over for Newcastle United and while the result was never really in much doubt, home fans were left with a feeling of bitterness at the antics of certain visiting players and some poor refereeing decisions.
With both sides mainly fielding a second string, the opening ten minutes from Arsenal suggested this 4th round Carling Cup tie could have been over long before the break, with a number of chances for the away side. Krul made a couple of telling saves and Newcastle managed to weather the storm and gain a foothold in the match.
Nile Ranger then might have put the home side ahead but after doing well to outsprint the defence, was tripped by the advancing keeper and when he made the decision to stay on his feet, by the time he regained his balance, the Arsenal defenders had time to get back and block his effort.
Alan Smith then almost broke his goalscoring duck for the club with a thunderous drive, and despite the ref giving a goalkick, the replays show the keeper did well to push it onto the bar and over, otherwise it would have broken the net.
Arsenal had chances of their own but they broke the deadlock courtesy of some comical defending from Newcastle. When a 45th minute corner was swung in, Krul made an ill-advised attempt to punch clear and missed. The ball was helped back in and Bendtner's header looped towards goal. The unsighted Krul was unable to collect it and the ball was helped goalwards. Ryan Taylor stooped to intervene but his clearance rebounded off Krul's head and into the net to make it 1-0.
The first goal was a killer coming on the stroke of halftime. But if the manner and timing of that seemed cruel then the second was to leave a sour taste in the mouths of Newcastle players and fans alike.
Having started brightly in the second half, a headed clearance from Djourou, sent Walcott racing beyond Newcastle's defence. Williamson may not been able to make any telling difference to the situation but coming back from an offside position, Bendtner clearly impeded the centre half ensuring a clear path for Walcott. None of the officials saw a problem with this, and despite protestation, it was Walcott who nonetheless did well to finish and increase his side's lead.
Chris Hughton tried to change things around introducing Gutierrez and Carroll and later Barton. But by then the tie was almost out of reach, despite all three making a clear difference to the balance of play.
But it was all in vain and with Newcastle taking chances to get back in the game, first Bendtner did well to make it 3-0 and Walcott wrapped up the tie with his second for 4-0.
The reflection should be made with decent perspective and in the context of what this game was. Arseanl are a good football side and perhaps the outcome was always almost inevitable. Without some questionable refereeing and with a little bit of luck, at the very least the margin of defeat would have been less emphatic.
However, perhaps a realist would see the lack of depth available to Hughton. The club tonight made an offical statement to say Chris Hughton is going nowhere, in light of specious rumours that his job is on the line.
But even when considering the great work up until now, Hughton is not a miracle worker and investment in January surely paramount? This was a second string Newcastle side but also up against another second string. Despite the help Arsenal got on the night, the gulf in class was there for all to see. But then perhaps the reality is, that Arsenal will be fighting for trophies while Newcastle fight for survival this season, so does this result really change anything?
What's perhaps worth reflecting on though, is that despite their obvious ability, there was another glimpse at the gamesmanship employed by the visitors. At times they played a delightful passing game, and they are sumptuously endowed with a reservoir of talent. And yet for every sublime pass or stunning movement, there was a dive to con a ref into giving a decision their way. Then there was the blocking incident. That's not the Arsenal all the neutrals know and love, is it?
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