At half time at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon Newcastle fans could have been forgiven for worrying if their season was about to implode as they stared into the abyss. Having lost their latest local hero in Andy Carroll without bringing in a replacement and losing 4-0 after 45 minutes to one of the country’s best team’s, things were not looking good for the Geordie faithful. But a second-half fight back of epic proportions will have given the fans hope that there is life after Carroll. It was the first time in Premier League history that a side have come back from a 4-0 deficit.
For the opening 45 minutes Newcastle were woeful as they struggled to come to terms with Arsenal’s attacking verve. Time after time they were opened up at the back with the normally reliable defensive partnership of Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini looking all at sea. After only 10 minutes the home side were 3-0 down as they paid the price for failing to get out of the blocks at the start. The Newcastle fans that still remained in the ground after a torrid start would no doubt have taken a 4-0 declaration from Arsenal just to keep the score slightly respectable. But whatever manager Alan Pardew said at half time worked wonders to inspire a miraculous comeback.
The game’s changing point came on 50 minutes when Joey Barton made a strong but fair challenge on Arsenal’s Abou Diaby. The opposition player’s response resulted in a red card with Barton showing his new found maturity by not retaliating to Diaby’s provocation. Barton was a key figure in the fight-back as along with two coolly taken penalties his set pieces caused problems in the opposition’s penalty area. The comeback was completed on 87 minutes with a stunning volley from midfielder Cheik Tiote. The African’s first ever goal for his new club will go down forever in Magpies folklore. With speculation in the media linking Tiote with some of the countries’ biggest clubs Newcastle may face a challenge to hold on to the Ivory Coast international.
The future of Joey Barton should be less uncertain with the player keen to remain on Tyneside for the foreseeable future. Despite the loss of Carroll on deadline day Barton wants to stay to show his gratitude to the club and the fans for their support in his times of trouble. He told NUFC TV: “As