Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (& Andre Marriner): 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47

Written for NUFC360 - a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates. Follow them @NUFC360

A frustrating match for Newcastle United supporters and the Geordie faithful. Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off 16 minutes into the match with a debatable red card. The Gunners were dominating early on and the red card saw NUFC draw completely back; at one point the possession was 75-25 in the favor of Arsenal. Newcastle held their shape and defensive line until the 52nd minute, where an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shot deflected off of Coloccini’s leg and behind Tim Krul. A great defensive display by Newcastle; who could have easily come out of this fixture with at least a draw, despite a harsh red card from Andre Marriner, lost 1-0.

Here are my 20 thoughts and tidbits:

  1. I’m going to start off by saying that this was one of the poorest showing of officiating that I have seen in quite some time. Andre Marriner was handing out yellow cards to Newcastle players like candy on Halloween.
  2. Marriner did not have a handle on this match from the get go. This is the same referee that sent off Kieran Gibbs by mistake when it should have been Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season. How can someone like that still be employed as a Premier League official? Baffling.
  3. As for the Mitrovic red, we can sit and debate for days but one thing is clear, he is a building a reputation that is Balotelli-esque. The red was definitely questionable, there was no intent to injure and the ball was in the air. It was a clumsy, but costly, challenge. A borderline red but had this been Santi Cazorla or Sanchez making that challenge, it’s probably a yellow with a severe warning. Someone like Mitrovic or Tiote? Straight red. Unfortunately, in this case, you reap what you sow.
  4. Having Andre Marriner as a referee did have one advantage. Florian Thauvin tripped Hector Bellerin in the box and should have been a PK but there was no call.
  5. 6 yellow cards for Newcastle United (Sissoko 3’, Mbemba 19’, Thauvin 26’, Anita 48’, Wijnaldum 49’ & Coloccini 92’) and of course a red for Mitrovic in the 16th Only Cazorla was booked for Arsenal, and that wasn’t until the 49th minute.
  6. Speaking of discipline, this is now 2 red cards in 4 league matches and 6 in their last 14 games for the Magpies. It is surely becoming a growing concern for McClaren and the coaching staff. Need to get that sorted out.
  7. With Mitrovic now set to miss the next 3 matches, it’s fair to say his start as a Newcastle player has been rather disappointing. We all knew the disciplinary issues and baggage that came with Mitrovic, but no one thought it would be like this. In his defense, he did not deserve a red today but now NUFC have to rely on Papiss Cissé for the next 3 matches (@West Ham, vs Watford, vs Chelsea).
  8. Question: with Mitrovic’s obvious disciplinary issues and inability to stay on the pitch, does that entice the board into buying another striker? I’m going to say yes. I was adamant on Newcastle not disrupting Mitrovic’s playing time but he has been unable to stay on the pitch. Diego Rolan, Charlie Austin, amongst many others, are some options Newcastle United should be looking at. Once again, this may be contradictory to what I’ve been previously said but until Mitrovic resolves his discipline issues, another striker is necessary.
  9. I personally keep harping on this team’s culture and the massive change in identity from the Pardew-era. After being down a man, this team would’ve given up last season and lost 4-0. Today, you felt a sense of resiliency from Newcastle, they kept their shape and defensive stance despite being down a match for 75 minutes. A 1-0 loss to a team like Arsenal with 10 men for 34 of the match is massive.
  10. This is a re-occurring theme and I almost don’t have to say it anymore, but what a player NUFC have in Chancel Mbemba. A stud, he has made the back line look solid every single match, no matter where McClaren plays him. I’d say he’s been the most productive of the 4 new players for Newcastle so far.
  11. Players like Wijnaldum and Thauvin strive when playing a more forward formation, but the last two matches (@ Man U & down a man vs Arsenal) have seen them be less impactful than they should be.
  12. Thauvin looks the part and Wijnaldum has been incredible but McClaren had set up a defensive gameplan at Old Trafford and being down a man vs Arsenal had Newcastle running around without the ball rather than controlling it and being in possession.
  13. Florian Thauvin has brought a different type of creativity to the midfield that they had been lacking since selling Cabaye and Ben Arfa. There was a definite shortage of creativity on the pitch last season.
  14. Can’t wait for Wijnaldum and Sissoko to start linking up like this. I think these two have a bright future together. High-class players.
  15. Since I called out Tim Krul in the first match, he has been a splendid surprise. It almost seemed like his career and play was spiraling downwards but was great versus Man United and Arsenal today.
  16. Jetro Willems was at St. James Park again. Can he sign for Newcastle already? Please and thank you. . Haidara is not the answer at LB!
  17. Some quick stats: Jack Colback led the team in tackles with 4 today (surprise, surprise). Newcastle only had one shot and not a single shot on target; that has to be alarming.
  18. McClaren made 3 positive substitutions today, despite being down a goal and down a man. Took off Vurnon Anita (holding midfielder) for Ayoze Perez, Cissé for Sissoko and De Jong for Thauvin. It goes without saying, but this is refreshing to see. Most likely would not have seen that under Pardew.
  19. Only 2 goals in 4 matches so far. Haven’t scored since the home match versus Southampton. Is it becoming a concern? The Charlie Austin-Aleksandar Mitrovic debate will be alive and well until Mitrovic starts producing. Would not be surprise if Newcastle are heavily linked with Austin in the coming days as the transfer windows closes up.
  20. 4 games, 2 goals, 2 red cards and 2 points. The defense looks good and revitalized, and despite only having 2 points in 4 matches, there are some signs of progress. Only 2 goals? That’s concerning but NUFC have one of the toughest start of the season schedules in the whole Premier League. The season starts now, however, with West Ham and Watford coming up, NUFC cannot afford to drop any points. It’s always one thing to play great against teams like Manchester United and Arsenal, but how will they play against lesser teams like Watford? You cannot play down to your opponent. The discipline may also be an issue but that can/hopefully will be cleaned up. Only time will tell! Talk to you in a few weeks!

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Haidara, Anita (Perez 72), Colback, Sissoko (Cisse 77), Wijnaldum, Thauvin (De Jong 83), Mitrovic

ARSENAL: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arteta 81), Ramsey, Sanchez, Walcott (Giroud 69)

Ref: Andre Marriner

Crowd: 50, 388

MOTM: Chancel Mbemba


Newcastle United player ratings:

Tim Krul – 8

Daryl Janmaat – 7

Cancel Mbemba - 9

Fabricio Coloccini – 7

Massadio Haidara – 6

Jack Colback – 6

Vurnon Anita – 6.5 (Ayoze – 6)

Georginio Wijnaldum – 7

Florian Thauvin – 6 (Siem De Jong - N/A)

Moussa Sissoko – 7 (Papiss Cissé – N/A)

Aleksandar Mitrovic – 1


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