Newcastle United 4 v Arsenal 4

Away from home and cruising 4-0 in the first 26 minutes, and you’d be right to expect your team to come away with all the points. Theo Walcott, Johan Djourou with his first Arsenal goal and a Robin Van Persie double had the sizeable travelling Arsenal contingent in dreamland and wondering how many more Arsenal goals were to follow. None was the answer after Abou Diaby was shown a red card on 50 minutes after reacting to Joey Barton’s very poor tackle, as Newcastle scored an amazing four goals themselves to bizarrely draw level with ten man Arsenal struggling to cope.

Shaky

The result gives the Gunners an unwelcome record as it is the first time in Premiership history that a side has scored four times but not won the game. On the strength’s of what he witnessed, Arsene Wenger will be ruing the chance not to have strengthened his side defensively, as once again the Gunners looked very shaky at the back. Newcastle will be thankful that referee Phil Dowd was in such charitable mood. He awarded the home side two very soft penalties, and should have sent off Barton for what has become his trademark lunging tackle aimed at getting the man rather than the ball.

Offence

And while we’re at it, how Kevin Nolan wasn’t sent off for wrestling Wojciech Szczesny as he tried to retrieve tha ball after his side’s first penalty was a mystery. If Diaby’s offence was a red card, then Phil Dowd, so was Nolan’s.

Zipped

Walcott gave Arsenal the lead with 45 seconds on the clock as he zipped in-between the Magpies defence to find the net after Diaby and Andrey Arshavin crafted the opening. Two minutes later, the Gunners were two goals to the good. Andrey Arshavin’s free-kick was met a strong Djourou header for the Swiss defender’s first Gunners’ goal. It was all too easy and on ten minutes, Arsenal had a third. Walcott raced away of the right and crossed perfectly for Van Persie to score with a powerful right footed drive.

Happy

The home side looked out of sorts and in truth out of their depth. Van Persie got his second and Arsenal’s fourth of an amazing opening 45 minutes, rising to head in from Bacary Sagana’s cross.It could not have been an easier half time team talk for Wenger, who would have been happy to take the win at that point. But he and Arsenal would not have accounted for a Magpies recovery that could never have been predicted.

Reckless

The turning point came as Barton’s reckless effort to get the ball from Diaby promoted an angry exchange as the France player pushed Barton to the floor with his hand on the back of Barton’s neck and then pushed Nolan away too. Dowd will not have remembered Paul Robinson’s challenge on Diaby that led to the France player to a lengthy lay off earlier in the season and brandished the red card. There were still 40 minutes on the clock at that stage and Arsenal would not have been too concerned. Szczesny saved well from Danny Simpson and as Walcott raced in on goal, his effort was blocked and that was to be the most telling Arsenal move for the next 22 minutes. In that time, Laurent Koscileny was adjudged to have impeded Simpson and Barton netted from the spot.

Poor

Szczesny saved well from Mike Williamson as the momentum swung full in favour of the home side. A long hopefull ball was poorly defended by Gael Clichy and followed up by Leon Best to make the score 4-2 on 75 minutes. Wenger had taken off Arshavin for Rosicky as Szczesny denied Arsenal fan Nile Ranger’s drive and then smothered the ball as the striker threatened. On came Emmanuel Eboue for Walcott and seven minutes from time, Dowd again was keen to be centre of attention as he pointed to the spot after Koscileny was again seen to cause an infringement on Williamson.

Level

Replays showed this to have been another very poor decision by the official and one surely not worthy at this or any other level. Barton netted again and three minutes from time as the ten man Gunners tried to hold on, Cheik Tiote volleyed in from 20 yards for an amazing 4-4 scoreline and a result that significantly dents the Gunners’ title ambitions.