Club Focus – Newcastle United – Magpies luckless at Eastlands

Newcastle will have returned from their short trip to Manchester wondering how many pieces of bad luck they could pick up in just the one game. Despite producing a spirited performance where they more than matched their expensively assembled opponents they left with nothing to show for it. An excellent winning goal from Sunderland born Adam Johnson saw Newcastle on the receiving end of a 2-1 defeat.

The first piece of bad luck occurred in the opening stages of the game when loan signing Hatem Ben Arfa was on the receiving end of a strong challenge from Nigel de Jong. The Frenchman left the pitch on a stretcher with a suspected broken leg while de Jong did not even receive a caution. The Magpies’ suffered a second injury blow later in the first half when Fabricio Coloccini departed with a groin injury. To make matters worse Newcastle fans’ twice felt hard done to by referee Martin Atkinson. City were awarded a penalty for their opening goal despite Mike Williamson appearing to take the ball with his challenge. Then with the score at 2-1 Newcastle felt they had a strong penalty shout when Shola Ameobi was felled in the area. The controversy will have distracted from a strong showing by Chris Hughton’s men who enjoyed more of the ball away from home.

The loss of Ben Arfa could prove to be a big blow for Newcastle’s hopes this season after the young Frenchman made a positive start to his career with the club. Although it is only a suspected broken leg at the moment the chances are he could be out for months rather than weeks. Against Everton Ben Arfa produced a top class performance earning his side all three points with a wonder goal. The loss of his talents in the final third of the pitch leaves Newcastle short of players able to unlock opposition’s defences. Chris Hughton said: “It looks like a break. It seemed to me a challenge that didn’t need to be made.” The normally placid Hughton was also left fuming by the referee’s performance as a number of controversial decisions cost his side at least a point. He said: “We set the team up to play against their quality but key decisions went against us.” The defeat leaves Newcastle 15th in the league going into the international break. Although they only have seven points from seven games there is a feeling that their points tally does not reflect how well they have played for much of this season.

Striker Andy Carroll only had a 14 minute run-out against Manchester City but he may be on the verge of his first England call-up. The old fashioned centre forward was not included in Stuart Pearce’s Under-21 squad prompting speculation that Carroll will receive his maiden call up today. With a number of English strikers injured or out of form there is a good chance Carroll will join Fabio Capello’s squad for the game against Montenegro. Carroll already has four goals this season including a hat-trick against Aston Villa.

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