Despite a difficult draw at the defending FA Cup holders Arsenal, Newcastle put in a very good performance on Saturday. The lads worked hard, kept Arsenal in check, and created a few excellent chances. Then extra time came around, and Newcastle just couldn’t hold on.
The Gunners found a second gear that Newcastle couldn’t match in extra time. The end result was a disappointing but far from condemnable 2-0 early exit from the FA Cup. However, there were plenty of positives to take from the performance.
Despite being completely anemic in front of goal in the first 45 minutes, Newcastle had the better chances in the second half. There was also a genuine commitment to playing higher up the pitch while defensively the lads really frustrated Arsenal.
This match will most likely be remembered as the debut of Elliot Anderson, who came on with 10 minutes left in normal time. He is a very promising youngster who didn’t look out of place at all in a very tense setting.
Last year’s Player of the Season, Martin Dubravka, also made his first appearance of the campaign. Dubravka was in fine form making some excellent saves. It really is a toss-up as to who is the number one keeper at the moment though Darlow deserves to keep his place.
However, there was one Magpie who stood out at both ends of the pitch. You can hardly mistake him as he stands 6’5″ with a ponytail. Andy Carrol was immense yesterday. While a striker is paid to score goals, Andy did everything but at the Emirates.
Carroll played with a possessed passion at both ends of the pitch but ultimately just couldn’t convert any of his chances. He’ll be as disappointed as anybody with the missed opportunities. However, his performance embodied what we expect from this squad.
Andy has easily topped our poll as the best player in the defeat at Arsenal. In the midst of a frustrating season, he reminded us that he still has a role to play for his hometown club.