Newcastle United were thrown back into the relegation battle after helpless performance against third-placed Arsenal on Monday night.
‘Meek’ is the word to describe Newcastle’s disastrous efforts against Champions League-bound Arsenal, who found it all too routine to brush aside their visitors at the Emirates.
We all know Rafael Benitez’s men have it in their locker to produce the odd shock result – think Manchester City, for example – but the Magpies were totally void of any form of spirit and desire necessary to pull them across the line.
Arsenal predictably dominated possession in the opening stages and were unlucky not to go ahead at the 12-minute mark after Ramsey sailed home a corner ball, but their celebrations were cut short due to an apparent foul from Sokratis on Florian Lejeune.
The home side finally broke the deadlock after an abysmally boring half an hour, with Arsenal’s outbound Welshman collecting his first official goal on the night after the ball, fortunately, bounced off DeAndre Yedlin into his path.
Newcastle could’ve and probably should’ve responded immediately, Solomon Rondon feeding off scraps and claiming a ball down the right-hand side before seeing his effort brushed aside by Bernd Leno.
The situation could have easily been worsened if it wasn’t for the plucky defending of Matt Richie who found himself in the right place at the right time when denying Alexandre Lacazette on the line.
Following the break the Magpies looked a little more willing with record signing Miguel Almiron wandering into unchartered territory to deliver a ball, however his efforts were easily denied by the head of Sokratis.
Arsenal introduced their own record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang soon after and he immediately set about making himself a nuisance, first testing the hands of Dubravka, who did extremely well to make the save, before assisting Lacazette with a neat flick.
In a game of very few positives, Matt Richie can be proud of his performance leaving the capital. The Scotland international was undoubtedly Newcastle’s best player on the night providing the only real threat going forward and showing a real willingness to get on the ball and make things work.
If Newcastle had managed to nick a result, we would be reflecting on his goal-line clearance as one of the defining moments of the season for both clubs, but unfortunately this wasn’t to be as the rest of the team fell way short of expectations.
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