We thought with all the injuries Newcastle have had, plus the suspensions to Papiss Cisse and Fab Coloccini that we would struggle to hold Arsenal on Saturday at St. James’ Park.
Jonas Gutierrez in action on Saturday – inspired
We had to again field a patched-up side through lack of players against the Gunners, and after 30 minutes when we were 2-0 down it looked like it was going to be really tough, and at half time Arsenal were well in control of the game.
But then a mini-miracle happened, and the Newcastle players in that second half seemed like men possessed, and we played some of our best football of the season, and the lads had Arsenal struggling to win the game.
Newcastle’s fight was epitomized by a certain Jonas Gutierrez, who seemed inspired when he came on after 70 minutes, and he ran his socks off for the cause and made a great cameo appearance in a central midfield position.
John Carver talked about the spirit after the game:
“The biggest thing I said to them at half-time was ‘listen, this is what we’ve got in this room, this is what we’re dealing with, now don’t go missing, stick your chest out and be proud of the jersey and yourselves because you are professional footballers’.”
“It was very important we didn’t go gung-ho, we made sure we still had that solid shape. But we did put more pressure on them higher up the field. We won the second ball, drove at them and that was the difference.”
“It was amazing,” “We had Ryan Taylor, a natural midfielder, playing at right-back and he was left-back last week. Daryl, who is a natural right-back, was at centre-half and was outstanding. Jonas Gutierrez is an outside left and played the No.4 role.”
“Jonas was so important and I put him in there because I thought he could drive us a little bit more. He was exceptional when he came on.”
“Daryl could play where he did, but the one thing is they scored two from set plays so it’s important to have center-halves who can head the ball as well.”
“I thought Daryl did exceptionally well.”
It looks like central midfielder Mehdi Abeid will be available for the trip to Sunderland, after what will seem like a (very) long international break.
Rolando Aarons is also close to returning, but the worry we have about Aarons is with his hamstring – he’s been out almost all season with hamstring problems – so we are hoping he can make a full and complete recovery.
We’ve won only two games this year, so we must go all out to beat Sunderland a week on Sunday – a win and we would be almost safe in the Premier League and we’d also break that four game losing streak against the Black Cars, and three game losing streak in the league.
The lads were terrific in that second half on Saturday, and if we play like that against Sunderland – a win would be almost guaranteed.
Bottom line – the players deserve enormous credit for that second half display- now we have to keep playing like that in every game.
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