Arsenal four goals up within half an hour at St. James Park. Four all at the final whistle. Is Phil Dowd fit to referee? Was that the greatest ever Premier League fightback? Andy Carroll who? Just some of the questions needing answers at full-time, the one answer that we can probably take away is – no, Arsenal will not win the title this season.
Fingers will be pointed at Abou Diaby who foolishly saw red and reacted to Barton’ s reckless challenge, only to see red again in the form of Dowd’s card. Yes, Barton is a prick, he always has been and always will be. It’s by no accident, he knows how annoying he can be, and how poorly opponents can make decisions in the midst of his mind games. Diaby has suffered injury problems galore whilst at Arsenal and that could probably be the reason behind his reaction, nevertheless no excuse to let down your team, who are without two other defensive midfielders in the shape of Song and Denilson.
Phil Dowd didn’t cover himself in glory either, but again thats nothing new. He jumped at any opportunity to give Newcastle a free-kick or penalty. The red-card was deserved, sure, but the second penalty was as soft as they come, the rampant crowd possibly a deciding factor there.
The red card was a turning point, but for me it all began going pear-shaped once the much improved Johan Djourou limped off to be replaced by what can only be described as an imposter of a French international defender. Sebastian Squillaci should be named Sebastian No-Squil-aci after a torrid 45 minutes where everything flashed past him. He too was at fault at the Emirates when Spurs came marauding back to win 3-2 and at the DW Stadium when Wigan came from behind to level 2-2, as well as countless other times that I fail to recall. Possibly Arsenal’s worst signing since Francis Jeffers or Igors Stepanovs, it only highlights the faulted belief Arsene Wenger showed in his countryman by not venturing into the transfer market last month.
Every season for the last five seasons or so, the Arsenal have shot themselves in the foot to ultimately undermine their own title ambitions. All credit to Newcastle for their performace after half time, when they could have easily felt sorry for themselves. It’s a testament to Alan Pardew’s strength in character too, he has managed to get the Geordie faithful on his side which didn’t look possible upon arrival. You could say it was twelve versus ten following the sending off, the St. James Park crowd proved to be the proverbial twelfth man. On a day of drama only the Premier League can produce, only a Wolves victory versus Manchester United at Molinuex later in the day could soften the wounds.