Before the first minute of the match had even ticked over, Jorginho received his first pass of the game and moved the ball on to Gabriel, but a second after the ball had gone Calumn Wilson ran over and shoulder barged Jorginho to the ground. Jorginho raised his hands as if to say “what the fuck??” and the referee, of course, called nothing.

That would be the tone for the entire match: Newcastle United players running around shouldering, slapping, and studs-up tackling Arsenal players while referee Chris Kavanagh called literally nothing. Newcastle wouldn’t even get a yellow card until the 73rd minute, when Dan Burn went in studs up on Saka. They got their second yellow card when Fabian Schaar (part time footballer, full time stiff) tried to pick a fight with Eddie Nketiah in the 93rd minute. It was, to be blunt, an absolutely disgraceful performance from the Saudi backed team.

Only one team showed up yesterday to play football, Arsenal. Joelinton, Wilson, Shaar, Burn, Guimares, and Trippier came to scrap.

Joey Barlinton hasn’t really played football for a few years now. The former striker turned midfield enforcer (because, let’s face it, he’s shit with the ball and also can’t score) just runs around shouldering people off the ball these days. That’s all he did today.

Calumn Wilson wrecked anyone near him any time he could, right from the start.

Fabian Schaar went in like a wrecking ball on Jesus and Xhaka on one play, which, you’ll not be surprised, led to a big chance for Arsenal. He also scored an own goal for Arsenal, which was funny but had he not scored that own goal, Ødegaard would have had a tap in at the far post.

Dan Burn was the king of the studs up tackle, got himself a yellow card for it.

Bruno Guimares scraped his studs down Saka’s ankle “on accident” and wrecked Jorginho in the 2nd half.

Trippier tried to fight Gabriel Jesus and literally Jesus said to him, “ok, then, come on” and demanded the throw in, he won the ball and passed it to Nelli, who passed to Øde, and forced a huge save from Poep. Right after Jesus won the ball and passed it Trippier threw Jesus to the ground.

It would have been comical stuff if it hadn’t all been so serious. As Arsenal supporters we are well aware of the supposed reputation for a “soft underbelly”. Teams are often told to go out and rough us up. Tony Pulis would whip his players into a frenzy before the match, like some bald, four-eyed Orc king. And while Taylor didn’t intend to break Eduardo’s leg, the tackle itself was intentional, the Birmingham boss (Alex McLeish) absolutely told the players to leave one on Arsenal early, let them know that they were in for a contest, “make them earn the right to play”, and all of that other nonsense that shit coaches tell their shit teams to do to Arsenal.

And that’s fine. We stood up to it. We won. We beat Newcastle at their home, playing actual football, while they played Stoke-ball. And the fucked-up thing is that they could have gotten a result from this game, if they’d tried to play a little football. They have a ton of talent on that team and Isak and Shaar nearly scored a goal each, while Ramsdale was called upon to make several saves and Xhaka had to clean up Kiwior’s mess with an astute tackle. If they had even remotely tried to match Arsenal, to press Arsenal high up the pitch, I think they could have gotten something from this game. But they were too preoccupied with trying to play physical, rather than play football.

The funny part of all this is that their shit fans booed the referees after the match. Lol. Fucking lol. Referee Chris Kavanaugh literally let them run around punching and kicking and did nothing. And their shit manager complained after the match that Arsenal were time wasting. Lol. Fucking lol.

After writing these blogs now for almost 16 years I can tell you definitively that I have seen literally hundreds of managers who waste time, who slow the game down, whose players will feign injury, who will foul constantly, and then turn around the very next match and complain when the opponent does the same. I’ve seen it so much that I don’t even think it’s hypocritical anymore. I’m guessing it’s something that they teach new managers in the first few weeks of “being manager” training.

When Newcastle came to Ashburton Grove, they spent the entire 90 minutes trying to negate play. It was one of the most laughable performances I’ve ever seen from a team backed by literally trillions of dollars. So, yes, of course Eddie Howe complained about Arsenal “timewasting” or “diving” or whatever.

What those two performances prove to me is that Eddie Howe is afraid of Arsenal and Mikel Arteta. If you’ve ever played the game, you know that those are the tactics you apply when you are outclassed. You simplify the game, you go physical, you try to hit on the counter. Jose Mourinho, Sam Allardyce, Eddie Howe: football 101. But the thing that makes them coward’s performances is that Newcastle have a hell of a good team. They aren’t Stoke City or Bolton, they are a well-funded team with incredibly good players. If their coach was any good, he’d have had them playing excellent football by now and they wouldn’t have been afraid to match Arsenal on the pitch, instead of the wrestling ring.

All it proves to me is that Eddie Howe will be out of a job as soon as his Saudi overlords can tap up Roberto De Zerbi.



  1. Yeah, that was ridiculous. The elbow to Jesus head should have been a straight red. To go along with numerous yellows. That was a classic case of the ref letting a Northern team get away with near-murder on a “soft” Southern team. Fortunately, this team, while young, isn’t exactly soft.
    And yes, we did our share of timewasting and gamesmanship, and I’d rather not see that, as it takes away from my enjoyment of the match. But we’re hardly the only ones doing it, and Newcastle was arguably worse when they played us, and they were doing it while tied.

    On a happier note, after nearly 25 years in Utah, I recently moved to Colorado, north of Denver. Drove an hour down to Celtic on Market to watch the match, as it seems to be the go-to pub for Arsenal fans on the Front Range. Atmosphere was very good and it was worth the hour drive, though I’ll not be doing that all the time or for the early matches. So technically, I’m no longer SLC_Gooner, but Greeley_Gooner. But I’ll probably stick with the old handle.

    1. I live in Fort Collins. Welcome to the Front Range, good luck in Greeley. Maybe see you in the pub.

    2. cool, slc. my son lives in greeley…just finished his first year of college there; small world, indeed. perhaps the next time i’m there, we can meet and check a game…have a bit of a 7am rendezvous on greeley/ft collins. congrats on the move.

    3. My wife was born in Greeley and lived in Foco for a while. I’ve visited the latter many times. Lovely place (Foco at least, she said Greeley always smelled of of the slaughterhouse). Enjoy!

      1. Yes, ZD, Greeley does occasionally have a bit of feed lot smell to it. Though where we are west of town, it hasn’t been too bad.

        Jayke, any pub recommendations in Fort Collins? That’s closer than downtown Denver to watch matches.

        1. Prost on College Avenue shows a lot of games, and the beer selection is pretty good. But there are lots to choose from; Fort Collins ranked 10th in the US for breweries per capita in 2019, and they’ve only added to the number since then.

          Contact me at jonque17@gmail.com to get together for a game.

  2. Ouch… feels a bit over the top, Tim, if I’m being honest. Newcastle do have a good team, and they do have a good manager in Eddie Howe. Their defensive record is much better than ours (10 less goals conceded), and they’ve lost only one more game than we did so far. If it wasn’t for those 11 draws, they’d be sitting much closer to us. As for the match itself, sure, they played a physical game yesterday, and the ref probably could’ve started dishing out yellow cards earlier but to say that they played “Stoke-ball” is somewhat disrespectful. They struck the post twice, and forced Ramsdale into a few good saves. Any one of those ends up in the net (especially, in the 2nd minute), and it’s a completely different ball game. I felt like we rode our luck yesterday, and got away with one. Glad it was 2-0 to the good guys in the end but on any different Sunday it could’ve easily been a 3-3 or 4-4 draw, or an embarrassing defeat, especially given the amount of chances that we’ve spurned.

    1. They were straight up thugs. I only highlighted a few of the transgressions. It was a hideous display of anti-football, which even some of the big pods picked up on. I will admit, however, that on another day Kiwior could have cost us those three points, he was really poor.

      1. That’s the third place team in the League, funded by endless money, and they played like Stoke.

      2. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I thoroughly enjoyed the game yesterday, and it didn’t even remotely feel like playing Stoke on a cold Thursday night. For the most part, Newcastle were defensively organized, and were also more than adventurous going forward. They caused us plenty of problems, and the only times when I was screaming at the TV were our own missed chances. Well, there was one foul by Bruno G. that I didn’t like (he definitely led with an elbow while crashing into Jorginho’s back) but other than that I don’t have too many complaints. And not sure I would too much blame on Kiwior as well. Again, just my personal opinion. P.S. De Zerbi just got spanked by Dyche… so there’s that too.

        1. I was only picking de zerbi because he’s the flavoir of the day and plays some really good football.

          But, yes, of course, we can disagree. If you have time, watch the game again. They were brutal and Kiwior was a bit of a mess. Most of their good chances were from his f-ups

          1. Oh, I do enjoy me a healthy Arsenal debate. I know you’re a reasonable guy, Tim, and I love reading your blog while agreeing with your points most of the time. Today was not that time though. I get what you’re saying about De Zerbi but again, I don’t think I can agree with you on Kiwior. A lot of their threat came from the right side from Trippier. I’m a big Zinchenko fan but I’m glad he got hooked relatively early in the game yesterday when we already had the lead to protect. For all his offensive contributions, unfortunately, he doesn’t offer much in defense. The jury is still out for me on Kiwior given how very little of him we saw so far but I don’t think he did any worse than Holding in the previous few matches.

      3. Okay, I’ll bite. You’re literally the first person to say Kiwior was poor (I don’t spend too much time getting into Twitter, but all the main accounts I follow didn’t say anything negative. I don’t know if you did, because you blocked me a few days ago*).

        I watched the game in fits and starts (was grilling for my kids and their friend who was over), but he seemed…fine? Mostly just that this opinion seems the outlier. So why do you think he was bad? Was every chance they had really down to him? I want to make sure I’m understanding this right, because it’s easy to take a contrarian position and twist with it, but that doesn’t really sound like you, I think.

        Newcastle sucked. From what I saw, there were lots of fouls that should have been called but weren’t, lots of yellows that should have been given but were only fouls (or not at all), and a couple of reds that should have been given but were only given fouls. In each case it was the softest possible sanction – if any – that you could make an argument for. It sucked.

        Having said that, we managed them well. The skithousing, the game management, the riling, it was elite.

        * You’re obviously free to do as you please on Twitter and I won’t hold it against you, but it was a bit disappointing because (a) you’re one of about 5 accounts I bother even getting on Twitter for, and (b) the comment was made in jest, in support of something you’re a believer in, which is revising our opinions in light of new info (vs sticking stubbornly and attaching our identity to it). It was a bit poorly worded, so I get it. And I suppose anything that gets me off Twitter is a good thing in the end.

        1. I actually have quite extensive notes

          2nd minute – good interception Kiwior
          7 – handball, no handball
          27 – Willock gets a shot off, Kiwior completely destroyed by Wilson who turns him at the top of the box. Ramsdale saves a goal.
          32 – Kiwior poor touch and poor passing is giving them time to press us high
          48 – Isak open header, Kiwior was just pushing Wilson instead of playing the ball in the air
          49 – Kiwior doesn’t even challenge Schaar, wide open header, Ramsdale saves another goal. Disgraceful defending
          58 – Kiwior huge missed tackle, Xhaka last ditch tackle saves a goal
          85 – Kiwior wins a header! It denies Isak a chance

    2. I respectfully disagree. Newcastle may have a good team and a decent manager, but their style of play against us was completely dirty. Their constant aggressive play, unneeded late tackles, and attempts to rile up our players on the field were unacceptable.

      On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed and loved our gamesmanship. Great teams find a way to win, no matter the circumstances, and we used time-wasting and buying fouls as a strategy to gain control over a team that was determined to keep the game aggressive and fast-paced. Referee Chris Kavanaugh was almost never going to call anything against them, so we had to use our experience and cunning to overcome them.

      While Newcastle did have some good chances, our excellent defensive performance and occasional slice of luck (which we earned) secured a deserved victory. We showed our quality and resilience in the face of thuggish opponents who were determined to turn the match into a UFC matchup.

  3. Man for man, Arsenal are the more talented team. So, for that reason, I don’t hate Eddie Howe, I think if it weren’t for Arteta, he would be a shoo-in for Manager of the Year. Newcastle haven’t actually blown the transfer market away since the Saudis have taken over, and so he’s made the most out of a limited squad by having them play a very rugged style. Some of those players are nowhere near Champions League calibre, but there they are, in 3rd.

    I do think the officiating was awful, however. That’s not necessarily Newcastle’s fault. The line in the sand was drawn, then crossed, then re-drawn, crossed again and no consequences. Newcastle deserved at least a dozen yellow cards yesterday. Next year, with European referees, I predict they’ll be out in the group stages if they play like they are. I believe the referee was intimidated by the stadium and the occasion, especially after the reversed penalty, and became scared to make calls on the Newcastle players.

  4. Yeah, that was one of the more blatant “stick it up ’em” games, and while you’d hope Eddie Howe might struggle to look at himself in the mirror afterwards, the majority of the blame should go to Kavanaugh who allowed them to get away scot-free with all sorts of shithousery. Still can’t believe they finished with 11 still on the field.

    I actually thought Kiwior had some good moments, I think (hope) he’ll come good with more minutes under his belt. Not an easy place to play for the under-experienced, St. James Park…

  5. this is the game i was most looking forward to, mainly because of last season. they beat arsenal down last season. xhaka said that some players (maybe odegaard) were afraid of that stage and i understand. i’ve been to st. james’ park and that place is electric; unlike any arena i’ve ever been to. well, i’m glad to see that odegaard fought like a proper norwegian viking yesterday.

    like several others, i’d have to disagree with many of your assertions, tim. were their players leaving a foot in after the ball was away? absolutely. in fact, i think it was the worst i’ve seen against arsenal this season. however, i doubt the coach told his players to go out and do that. it was simply those players, backed by that rabid crowd, seeing what they could get away with while trying to win the game. it’s up to the referee to manage the game. i could never imagine telling any team i’ve ever coached to kick players as a strategy to win.

    likewise, i thought kiwior had a decent game. keep in mind, he’s only just turned 23 and is new to the league. st. james’ is a tough place for anyone to play, let alone a very young man with, essentially, no premier league experience.

    the sad part is arsenal won this game that i was worried about but blew opportunities like 2-0 leads at anfield and west ham, and a home match against the bottom team in the league.

    1. In England, coaches absolutely tell the players to do what they did. They usually say “get physical”, “make them earn the right to play”, “get tight”, “let them know they’ve had a game” and a bunch of other euphemisms which the players know exactly what they mean.

      1. i’ll take your word for it…not worth making too big of a fuss. besides, it’s the job of the referee to manage player behavior. the players do what they’re allowed to get away with. i’ll agree that the referee was absolute trash on the day.

      2. I’m sure these were the instructions Howe gave his players. And they obliged. It was the Referee’s job to calm them down and he abandoned his post, encouraging the violence. This dereliction of duty was so extreme, so irrational that I convinced myself that the guy is corrupt. The first yellow card, and then the next two, were given at the very end of the game, when the dice were cast, as if to defend himself against future accusations. A crook or a coward. I’m leaning towards crook.
        Unlike you Tim, I think Newcastle is an excellent team, playing fast attacking football, featuring a strong, very physical defence. Their physicality is excessive but it’s only one facet of their game. I love Isak’s silky touch. And I’m impressed by what Howe achieved on a, so far, relatively limited budget.
        I thought Kiwior was rather good but I did not really focus my attention on him. I’ll have a look at the more dangerous situations again to refine my opinion.
        Finally, and most importantly, Arsenal were courageous, brillant at times, relentless, fearless. What a hard game to win. I was proud.

  6. boys, how good is odegaard? i can’t think of a single player in world football who i would play ahead of him in that 10-spot. in fact, i struggle to come up with a single player in the history of the game i’d play ahead of him…maybe prime zidane? nah, gimme odegaard.

    i laugh to think that arsenal bought him from real madrid for a ham sandwich; he’s worth at least £100 million. to think we had a debate last season about whether he was better than fabregas. sorry, but cesc at his best was nowhere near odegaard. hell, that goes for hleb (who i always thought was a better 10 than cesc), mesut, santi, and maybe even bergkamp, all at their very best take a back seat to this guy. he’s just so complete, so consistent, and so freaking good.

    1. i say maybe bergkamp because dennis was like a catalyst; he made everybody else better.

      but odegaard also leads the team with 15 freaking premier league goals.

    2. It’s an interesting one. I watched Cesc as a young person, and everything he did was magic. I’ve seen lots of football since then, and I struggle to deify any player to the extent I did with Cesc, RVP, Henry, Bergkamp.

      Odegaard is probably better than Cesc. Certainly better than Hleb! Ozil and Rosicky, too. I can’t include Santi, because the man excuded joy and that’s something you can’t quantify, but yeah, maybe. 15 goals is nothing to eff with. Cesc did it once, and that’s the current record, right? So it’s phenomenal. I asked my guys if they thought he was worth 100m right now, and the answer was probably yes.

      But there’s also an understanding that a rising tide lifts all boats. Odegaard? 100m. Saka? 125m. Martinelli? 80-100m. Hell, even Xhaka looks a 50m player. But if our form sucked, these players were not clicking, not coming together as a team, you can cut each of those valuations in half, or more.

      A single player in the history of the game you wouldn’t play ahead of him though? I don’t know, there’s one playing in the league right now that I might – KDB. And there are others sprinkled across time that would surely bench him, even on current form. You rightly mention Zidane, but how about Xavi? Pirlo? Prime Kaka? Maybe not, the game is different after all. But it’s a bold call, friend!

      1. i wouldn’t say i deify odegaard as he needs more time. however, i think he’s brilliant because it’s rare to see a #10 who’s so complete. likewise, i’m not comparing him to other center mids like xavi, pirlo, or debrunye…just the #10s; they get kicked a lot more than 6s & 8s. although they measure favorably, i would take odegaard over prime kaka. zidane, we’ll see. in fairness, most don’t play with a #10 anymore so it’s a bit refreshing to see the norwegian.

        cesc hit 15 goals but many of them were penalties. odegaard hasn’t taken a single penalty kick for arsenal this season. i do like the hleb comparisons as they look similar, particularly with their defensive work. i believe hleb is a slightly better dribbler and more comprehensive collapsing defenses but odegaard is better tactically. likewise, odegaard is a far greater goal threat.

        an aside, no way i’m paying £125 million for bukayo. i love the kid and i know there’s an english tax but there’s no way i’m paying that much for him…but that’s me. likewise, no one is paying £50 million for 32-year old xhaka.

        1. Agree, Josh Ode’s defense is also superb. He seals off passing lanes and directs the press so effectively. Add that to his goal tally and assists – which could easily have been higher with better finishing, and I’d say he’s the most complete #10 today.

      2. “Odegaard is probably better than Cesc” – sorry but that’s a stretch. Fabregas was a generational midfielder. One of the best I ever saw. Odegaard is good but not quite Fabregas level.

  7. not to hijack the thread, tim, but i always like to ask this question to the community. it looks like southampton are gone. who from that team would you want to see come to arsenal?

    on the strength of the game from a few weeks ago, i like that alcaraz kid; 20-year old argentine. he got a goal and an assist in the first half but he also got hooked at halftime; don’t know what that was about. i know folks were critical of gabriel’s defending but that ball he played for theo’s goal was brilliant.

    i also like the look of lavia who played cdm next to ward-prowse; 19-year old belgian. he looks better than our belgian who’s on loan at palace. he could be an understudy to partey. the problem is arsenal are so deep with aging players in that cdm role; would he play next season? arsenal could loan him out next season, maybe to west ham if they buy declan rice. anyway, i like the look of these two talented and very young players.

    1. You’re not hijacking anything. I could make a post about it your question, more broadly, who would you like to see at Arsenal next season kind of thing.

    2. Lavia is the obvious name, and it’s a position we’re looking for a long term successor. But he’s probably not there yet, and I’m not sure we’re a team that can take punts on potential anymore.

      A friend really likes JWP, but would he be good enough beyond his set pieces?

      1. JWP’s legs are gone. He’d be the slowest player on Arsenal by a mile.

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