Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Football: Pride Restored by Toon's Battlers; Alan Oliver's MATCH ANALYSIS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Football: Pride Restored by Toon's Battlers; Alan Oliver's MATCH ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: Alan Oliver

Newcastle Utd 1

Arsenal 1

THE only surprise at St James's Park last night is that some observers were surprised that Newcastle United came within a whisker of beating the mighty Arsenal.

Just like it would not be a surprise if Birmingham City came up here on Saturday and won.

For while they may have had a change of owner, chairman, manager and playing personnel this is still Newcastle United.

And they are capable of beating the best. And losing to the worst.

Arsenal are the best of course. And while they did not beat them I have to say that United made them look very ordinary last night.

And really Arsene Wenger should have been thinking that it was a point gained and not two points lost as he and his team flew back to London last night.

Arsenal seemed to think it was going to be easy when after a Charles N'Zogbia mistake Emmanuel Adebayor gave them their early lead with a superbly taken goal.

Not many teams come back from behind against the Arsenal. After all we have all heard that chant "1-0 to the Arsenal.".

Well not only did United do just that. But they can count themselves a shade unlucky that they did not go on and win after Steven Taylor's equaliser on the hour.

Certainly in the last half an hour there was only going to be one winner.

And it wasn't Arsenal.

Perhaps Arsenal thought it was going to be easy for them after going in front after only four minutes. Perhaps even without their key midfielders they thought they had enough quality at the back to hold out against United.

Well they were wrong. Yes it took United 28 minutes to get their first shot on target. Yes big Sam's men did not win a corner until the 34th minute.

But it was just about then that Arsenal become rather rattled. And they stayed rattled for the rest of the game.

Certainly Allardyce's tactic of using the pace of Oba Martins and the aggression of Alan Smith up troubled the Gunners back four and this wasn't the same back four we see on the television week in week out looking cool, calm confident and composed. Indeed it was difficult to pick out any of the Arsenal team who you could say had a really outstanding game.

And the sight of Tomas Rosicky and Adebayor arguing with each other in the 53rd minute must have given United that little bit of extra confidence.

Surely it was no coincidence that within seven minutes United were level.

The fans had been magnificent all night but they turned up the volume as with Shay Given rarely troubled at the other end they went all out for the winner.

It never came but the reception United received when they trooped out at the end must have been music to their ears after the booing of the last two home games against Portsmouth and Liverpool.

Those games could have ended at half time for the United supporters.

But it was a shame when Mike Dean brought last night's intriguing affair to a close. …

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