Gunned down at the death, Toon’s hopes lie with Nick
Mike Ashley’ s lawyer had wanted an “old-fashioned cup tie” at the Emirates Stadium.
Nick De Marco – who is representing Newcastle United in their dispute with the Premier League – didn’t get to see a classic on Saturday night as Steve Bruce’s side bowed out of the FA Cup on a bitterly cold evening in the capital.
The QC, challenging last summer’s ‘rejection’ of a proposed £300million takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, held a meeting with the club’s hierarchy at the stadium before the third-round tie.
What De Marco then saw was a spirited performance from Newcastle, who were beaten 2-0 after Emile Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored in extra-time.
Martin Dubravka, making his first appearance of the season, had kept United in the game, and it looked to be heading for penalties before a mistake by Ciaran Clark let in Smith Rowe.
Bruce had made seven changes. Without Callum Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey, he handed a start to Andy Carroll ahead of Dwight Gayle and recalled captain Jamaal Lascelles following his recovery from Covid-19.
Isaac Hayden, meanwhile, was fielded in defence against his former club.
The best chances would fall to Carroll, who had scored the club’s only winning goal at the stadium more than a decade ago.
And Bruce’s players must now quickly recover from 120 gruelling minutes for Tuesday night’s game against winless Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Newcastle, knocked out the Carabao Cup by Brentford last month, had spent much of the first half on the back foot. They limited Arsenal’s opportunities, but created
very little themselves in the first 30 minutes.
Jo elinton did more defensive than offensive work, and Dubravka had to be alert to deny Aubameyang.
Arsenal upped the pressure as the half wore on, and time and again they got in behind their visitors.
United couldn’t keep the ball for long in Arsenal’s half, and Carroll ended up defending set-pieces in his own box – and not attacking balls in Arsenal’s area.
Bruce replaced Lascelles with Matt Ritchie at the break, and Newcastle were better. They attacked more and created more.
Ritchie found Carroll with one free-kick, and the strik
er – who celebrated his 32nd birthday this week – took it down and shot wide.
Then came a better opportunity.
Carroll put a shot wide after Jeff Hendrick, also recalled to the starting XI, put the ball across the face of goal.
Bruce handed 18-year-old midfielder Elliot Anderson his debut – he replaced Joelinton – and United threatened in the last 10 minutes.
Neither side got a breakthrough, and the game went into extra-time.
It swung from end to end, and Dubravka superbly stopped a dipping, first-time shot from Granit Xhaka.
However, he couldn’t stop a 109th-minute strike from
Smith Rowe, who had earlier been shown a red card for a challenge on Sean Longstaff, only for it to be rescinded after a pitchside VAR check.
It was tough on Newcastle, who couldn’t react to the setback. Aubameyang added a second, and it was all over.
All United fans can now look forward to is a takeover – and that’s in De Marco’s hands.
Steve Bruce was left to assess his squad ahead of the visit to Bramall Lane.
He must quickly pick up his players after Saturday night’s FA Cup defeat.
One of the positives the United coach took from the game was the return of captain Lascelles, who had been out since being forced off against Chelsea on November 21 with knee and thigh injuries.
Lascelles went on to test positive for Covid-19, and the defender was only cleared to resume full training last week after a series of tests.
Bruce started Lascelles at the Emirates Stadium knowing that he wouldn’t be able to last the whole game, and the 27-year-old managed to play 45 minutes before becoming fatigued.
“Yeah, with the problems he’s had, we knew it was just a matter of when (he would have to come off ),” said head coach Bruce, who was only able to name seven players on his bench at the Emirates
Stadium after losing Callum Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey before the Arsenal game.
“It’ll do him the world of good that he’s had 45 minutes under his belt, we’ll see how he is on Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, Lascelles's defensive colleagues Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar – who also had Covid-19 late last year when there was an outbreak at the club's training ground – could be back for Tuesday night’s game against the Blades.
Winger Allan Saint-Maximin – who has been quarantining following his return to Tyneside from a spell recuperating from Covid-19 in France – is waiting to get the all-clear to resume training.