Sunday 22 March 2009
Like Arseblogger the poor quality stream made it tricky for me to get a great picture of the first half, I was also rather compromised by something a little closer to home which meant I had to be in close proximity of the toilet, I won't go into too many details on that front though.
The thing that stood out for me though, other than our scintillating attacking football in the second half, was Mark Halsey's truly pathetic refereeing. Some people seem to think that it's good common sense refereeing to never get your cards out, but frankly these people are nothing other than morons. Halsey is completely unable to control a football match. His reluctance to punish serious foul play and numerous cynical fouls allowed Newcastle's cheating to prosper, making this a much trickier game that it should have been with the rules properly enforced.
Halsey's prolific incompetence was perfectly demonstrated by his failure to get any card out for a quite deliberate forearm smash by Steven Taylor on Andrei Arshavin's face, replays show rather conclusively what a premeditated and unpleasantly violent act this was, however the great Halsey saw the offence and kept his cards firmly within his cowardly pocket. In fact almost every single time an Arsenal player got past a Newcastle player they were tripped or yanked back, this was demonstrated perfectly when Ryan Taylor cynically tugged back Clichy twice in quick succession, again a free kick was given but no card, it's simply incompetent to allow this kind of cheating to go unpunished.
The first half was a rather bitty affair on many fronts, the fact that Newcastle were allowed to play the man as a ball routinely made it rather hard to retain possession. Other than a rather soft penalty decision Newcastle didn't create much clear cut, while Bendtner and Van Persie both forced excellent saves from Steve Harper.
The second half came to life after Bendtner scored with an excellent header from the free kick following Clichy's recurrent attempted shirt removals. Newcastle equalised pretty much straight away, Gallas failing to clear and Martins expertly poking the ball into the bottom corner leaving Almunia with no chance. Then our class told, there was a certain poetic justice that the filthy Steven Taylor had limped off to the touchline to leave Newcastle with just ten men on the pitch when Diaby strode clear after a slick one two and finished clinically into the roof of the net. It didn't take long for Nasri to slot a stinger past Harper's near post to make it 3-1.
It could have easily been five of six in the end, Harper made a couple of excellent saves, while some rather annoying selfishness from Van Persie saw him twice ignore Bendtner who was in a much better position to score, Diaby also had time to crack a fierce left footed drive firmly against Harper's left hand post. Overall a convincing win, but being a bit of stubborn git I was left happy bit a bit frustrated at Halsey's rank incompetence and inability to control a game of football. Most of the time the better side will come through games like this, however idiots like Halsey do inevitably mean that cloggers like Newcastle have a much better chance of getting something from games like this than they should do. As has been noted elsewhere Newcastle's 'great supporters' were somewhat absent by the end of the game, it does leave one to wonder what these fickle fans have done to deserve their esteemed reputation?