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This Season 
 Match Report 2000-01 - Arsenal (h) 
 Premiership
 
 
Date: Tue 15th May 7.45pm

Venue: St.James' Park 

Conditions: Constant light rain.


 
 

Newcastle United 0 - 0 Arsenal
Teams

Goals

Half time: Newcastle 0 Arsenal 0

Full time: Newcastle 0 Arsenal 0

We Said

Bobby Robson commented:

"We gave a fairly admirable performance. 

"It was a game where honours were shared. They've got the point that they desperately needed, we haven't lost to a very good football team and a big club and I'm satisfied that our players have given the public a game which they've quite enjoyed.

"They can be quite proud of their team, and that was very important to us. Had we not got a great performance from every player, we would have lost the game, but we got from every single player a great performance."

Speaking about his outburst on Monday, he said:

"I had a bit of a go yesterday, but it was just how I felt. I could be saying things now, but I had the strength and the will and the honesty to say it before tonight.

"We could have lost 3-0 here and it would have been very difficult for me to say anything. I'll fight tooth and nail for every player in this club and for this club in this part of the world.

"If I feel I have to challenge people, I'll challenge because my heart is with the club and anyone who isn't, I'm against."

"That one was for you."

"That was important for us - I recognise the support that the public give the team, I welcome that and I am very proud of that. 

"I was engrossed in the game but from time to time you are aware of what is coming out of the terraces. I am just pleased for the team."

"What has hurt me and disappointed me is that we have not given our public what they deserve and what they would have liked.

"We hope next year we can reassemble. Obviously we have some injured players who we hope will recover for the start of next season. Hopefully with a small summer shopping list we will get it right for the start of next season and move on to phase two.

"I never lost my spirit but it has been a difficult season for us.

Speaking about the decision to play Glass rather than Quinn:

"I know all about Wayne Quinn but I just wanted to have a look at Stephen Glass and see what standard he is playing at now. Following this performance we have to make some sort of decision on his future and so does he.

"I have given him a game which has done him a favour - it's better for him to play in the first team than sit on the sidelines. I've had a good look at him, I've watched how he dealt with Arsenal and I thought he did fine."

They Said

Arsene Wenger said

"I'm personally very proud tonight because the players have shown a great mental strength and a great professional attitude" 

"We were up for the game tonight because Newcastle played a cup game. They closed down the ball and that's why I believe we needed a lot of character, and that's why I'm very happy with the performance of my players. We were in the quarter-finals of the Champions' League and we were in the final of the FA Cup and we finished runners-up, and that shows the huge quality of my team.

"But we are frustrated because we want to be first in the championship and that's why we have to come back to do better, but as well, we have not go to be ashamed of what we have done this season. Every season is a new start and maybe Manchester United will be buying new players.

"We'll try to buy new players. We have to try to keep the players we have and then come back and try to be stronger and more competitive with Man United."

Waffle

After Bobby's little outburst in the pre-match buildup, the spotlight was always going to be on the crowd and players, and for once a positive reaction from both was forthcoming.

Our well-documented squad shortcomings saw Robson keep faith with the side that had recently been responsible for a mini-revival, albeit in a fairly unattractive manner. One enforced change saw Acuna miss out due to a tendon problem allowing Bassedas to make his 16th league start, while makeshift midfielder Quinn was discarded to accommodate the swifter Glass.

The absence of Acuna certainly seemed to benefit Speed, who was far more noticeable in midfield than of late, freed from the holding role that he adopts when Clarence goes a' wandering forward. At fullback, Barton had one of his "on" games, seemingly intent on single-handedly silencing the doubters and obviously motivated to perform well against his first professional club.  

There remains a nagging doubt however that the Gunners weren't firing on all cylinders, doing just enough to hold on for the point that ensures Champs League participation for them next season.

Regardless of that though, there was a generally positive feeling at half time that we'd got some reward for our efforts with a nil-nil scoreline, balanced against the fact that one or two of the Wenger boys weren't totally focused and some decent moves were ruined by poor decisions - shooting when a pass would have put our goal in real danger, for example.

The atmosphere had gradually improved as well, from the total indifference that accompanied kickoff and the low murmur of voices more akin to an evening at the theatre than a top league football match. One or two pockets of fans raised their voices, including a hard core of around 50 at the Leazes end of the East Stand, and their continued efforts gradually spread around the stadium.

After the break, our renewed confidence and a slightly increased tempo kept the fans in a more animated fettle than usual (and ultimately saw far fewer early leavers than of late, something that the Radio 5 commentary picked up on.) A slightly over-enthusiastic standing ovation for the substituted Gallacher summed up the increased work rate of the crowd, and numerous choruses of "One Bobby Robson" seemed to confirm the general support that the manager enjoys is undiminished. 

A slightly more belligerent attitude from the players and a willingness to compete may have meant that the recent criticism and managerial riposte had served a purpose in reminding them of the hopes they carry on their shoulders. Had one of Cort's efforts or Shola's late chance gone in, the welcome three points would have rounded the evening off marvelously, but maybe masked our obvious shortcomings and given people a false picture. As it was, our 9th clean sheet in the last 50 games wasn't too bad a return.      

We can only hope that Bobby was caught up in his own invective after the game when he talked about keeping all the players - we continue to be painfully short of goalscoring capacity up front, lacking in midfield creativity and in need of a general injection of pace. 

With the combination of some decent additions to the squad plus the injured ones returning, the younger element forcing their way through the ranks, and a continuation of the work ethic displayed tonight, the future might just look a little brighter than in recent weeks. While we continue to "rebuild", the leading lights of the Premiership forge ahead - witness the outfield quality on the visiting bench tonight -  Ljungberg, Wiltord, Grimandi and Kanu. 

As far as Newcastle is concerned, some of the raw materials are there, but the spark is required. Much work to be done methinks, to even retain our mid-table position next season.       

With one home game remaining before this season is consigned to the memory banks, there was an air of affirmation about the evening and something intangible being restored. A final day victory would leave a better taste in the mouth.  

PS - What price Adidas introducing next season's away strip in the style of the day-glo orange affair modelled by one of the youth teams competing in the half time seven a side games? The effect was absolutely stunning under floodlights on a damp and gloomy evening. Imagine a strip fashioned from the plastic reflective orange bit on the back of an old NCB donkey jacket and you're getting close. It would probably show up on satellite pictures.....

Biffa

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Page last updated 15 May, 2012