Written By: Abidoye Babatunde
Anthony Gordon scored the winner as Newcastle ended Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the season, but that was only part of the story in a controversial game at St. James’ Park.
Here is what we made of it.
Saturday night drama
Here we are again, dissecting another game filled with VAR controversy played out in front of millions of viewers.
There were three huge calls to be made in this match and there is considerable doubt over whether referee Stuart Attwell and his assistants at Stockley Park got all of them correct.
Firstly, Kai Havertz might be considered lucky for only receiving a yellow card for his late challenge on Sean Longstaff.
The Gunners were then aggrieved with the decision not to send off Newcastle’s Bruno Guimarães for what looked like a strike of his forearm to the face of Jorginho, with the Brazilian not even seeing yellow.
Then came the winning goal with VAR even going to the extent of checking for three separate incidents in the build-up to Gordon’s winner, firstly checking whether the ball had gone out of play before Joe Willock had crossed it into the box.
There were also some assessments over whether Joelinton had pushed Gabriel in the back before and even whether Gordon might have been offside before poking in on the goal-line.
Three contentious decisions that had a significant impact on the result and could, in turn, end up having an impact on the title race.
Tyne to kill
Oh, there was actually a game of football to talk about?
Well this was a blood-and-thunder encounter that lacked in goalmouth action but covered itself in incident. Still, it is a huge win for Newcastle United and a sign of the job Eddie Howe has done to turn their campaign around.
The Magpies are unbeaten in seven Premier League games since losing three on the bounce to Manchester City, Brighton and Liverpool.
They are back to within three points of the top four and a team that was built on high-pressing, working hard and grit is showing a ton of resilience.
Newcastle are having to do without Sven Botman, Sandro Tonali and Alexander Isak at the moment but Howe has built a team that knows how to put the dog-work in.
Whenever Arsenal looked like breaking through into the final third, there was a black-and-white body there to get in the way with Newcastle managing 26 clearances and eight blocks over the 90 minutes.
No one won more aerial duels than Dan Burn and Fabian Schar all game, and there was even a special second-half cameo from Tino Livramento.
This wasn’t Newcastle’s prettiest victory, but they’ll celebrate it like it was.
Arsenal were without their captain for the trip to the north East tonight with Mikel Arteta leaving Martin Ødegaard out with concerns over his fitness.
Whether this would’ve been the type of game for the Norwegian to flourish in is another point entirely but the Gunners did look unusually toothless in the final third this evening.
Arteta’s men could only muster up an xG of 0.56 with just one shot on target on goal, and they may have had double the touches in the opposition box (31 to Newcastle’s 15) but never looked like unpicking the Geordie lock.
Kai Havertz provided energy and Declan Rice never stopped trying but Bukayo Saka and Garbriel Martinelli just couldn’t get themselves into a place to affect the game.
Would the picture have been different had Ødegaard been fit? Arteta might be up all night pondering that one.
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