Season 2005-06 Result
Newcastle United 1-0 Arsenal
 N.Solano 82.
Date: 10/12/2005  Venue: St.James' Park  Competition: Premiership
Crowd: 52,297
Match Report Submitted on 14/12/2005 by John Elliott
Saturday turned out to be a day of firsts. First, Newcastle decided to produce their best performance of the season to date (in the second half anyway) and Nobby scored his first goal since his return.

Kirky and Glenn both remembered their roots and attended their first game of the campaign (it is the season of miracles after all) and Roy had to miss the game as he suffered his first attack of gout! The situation is being closely monitored to see if he starts ‘throwing up’ after a couple of pints in which case we will know his condition is as bad as Greavsies.

Quite a few of the regular faces were missing as the bus left the sporties due to an awkward kick-off time, some had gone through for an extended drink, some had remained behind to wrap up Christmas presents and some even used a romantic weekend in Milan as an excuse . The atmosphere was a bit subdued as no-one expected much against Ar$enal following the performances of recent weeks, and also because the resident comedian ‘Mr Greenwood’ was a bit off colour. Those of you who missed it will find it hard to believe but he was off the drink and never told one joke. Honest.

When we reached the Toon we descended on one of our favourite watering holes where young Chrissy decided to provide some entertainment. At the top of his voice he announced to all and sundry that his fresh pint of snakebite was to celebrate his 16th birthday tomorrow, unfortunately standing not 6 feet away from him at the time was the barman who had just served him having questioned him about his age during the transaction!

On to the match: The inclusion of Michael Owen raised a few hopes, which were for me were diluted by the realisation that Shola was again included and playing on the left wing, a position which renders him even more ineffectual than usual.

It was shades of recent performances in the first half as we were poor, Scott Parker, apart, and played second fiddle to Ar$enal. However unlike in previous encounters, this Ar$enal team lack the killer touch of old and while they had the bulk of the possession, they never threatened that much. That was until the moment when Henry slipped through our defence onto a brilliant pass, the ball was destined for the back of the net until Shay pulled of another one of his saves of the season (come on Freddie, you should give him whatever he wants to extend his contract).

As the game went on the Toon seemed to realise they could get something out of this game and both as a team and as individuals the performance started to improve. The crowd also seemed to wake up and were the liveliest they have been for months.

At half time Souness must have finally acted as a manager should and bucked the side up with a decent team-talk , judging by the second half performance. Shearer was back to his old menacing self (is it a coincidence that he seems to improve when he knows his strike partner might actually anticipate his flick-ons and lay-offs)?

Michael Owen whilst clearly not match fit, caused the Ar$e defence throughout and almost managed what would have been a contender for goal of the season at the death. My player of the season so far, Scott Parker was absolutely magnificent, covering every blade of grass and involved everywhere until Lehman decided to take him out of the game by trying to separate his head from his shoulders with a needless but quite deliberate bodycheck cum elbow. Parker somehow managed another 10 minutes on adrenaline before concussion and exhaustion got the better of him.

Nobby, clearly lacking a bit of his old pace, never the less gave a display reminiscent of old, cleverly linking up with Shearer for a brilliantly taken goal. He was always there to provide a link and even got stuck in when needed.

The defence performed decently, although I am still not inspired with confidence. Elliott and Bramble need to practice their distribution skills, as while both did simple things well, their passing was awful. Young Peter Ramage again had a steady game, he seems to grow in confidence all the time but I disagree with the prawn sandwich brigades decision to name him man of the match, surely that award had to go to Scott Parker.

Amdy Faye is steadily starting to show some improvement, he did not try anything spectacular and stuck to the basics well, providing an anchor for Parker as he went forward but the jury is still out on him.

If Newcastle changed as a team in the second half then the same must definitely be said of Ar$e. Instead of a football team Ar$ehole Wenker sent out the ‘French international huffing’ squad for the second period, it was all there pouting lips, overacting, frantic waving of arms and crowding the referee to cry and moan at every decision. You have to sympathise with Henry, we actually had the audacity to tackle and play football against him and his team mates! What is the world coming to? (Barcelona Beckons).

So a well earned, hard fought win over a team we really didn’t expect to beat sends everyone home happy? I would be happier if I thought we could reproduce that performance on a regular basis. Happier when our injuries clear up but only if Souness decides to play them where they are most effective, happier when management take a good look at our training methods to prevent further injuries and definitely happier if our manager takes a good long hard look at his players and spends wisely in the transfer window to replace the inadequate.

Let’s finish with a few questions:

  1. Can we use this performance as a springboard and take it into the upcoming games against West Ham and Liverpool?
  2. Has Robin Hoods bay seen the last of the Smiths romantic weekends as they move on to bigger and better things?
  3. Was Mick the Mag really stuck in traffic outside Harrogate or did Joanne put her foot down and make him stay at home and put up the tree and wrap his presents?