Yesterday evening I finally got around to watching the entire Newcastle United against Arsenal match which was played almost a week ago and ended 4-4. When the game was shown on television, I was still aboard a cruise ship off the coast of Mexico, so alas, I wasn’t able to watch it live. I did however catch the brief highlights on video. And was astonished by the scoreline and the comeback by Newcastle United.
When I returned from the cruise, I purposefully stayed away from listening or watching any pundits talk about the incidents. I stayed away from Match Of The Day, Football Weekly and similar shows. Unfortunately my DVR didn’t tape the game, so I had to wait until Thursday evening to watch the match.
As a neutral, I kept track of the key moments during the game. With no preconceived notions of what happened, the following is my account of what happened:
41 seconds: Walcott scores after great pass by Arshavin to put him in on goal. Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal.
2:44: Djourou scores a header from free kick by Arshavin. Newcastle 0-2 Arsenal.
9:45: Walcott passes to van Persie in front of goal, and the Dutchman scores with ease. Newcastle 0-3 Arsenal.
25:52: Robin van Persie scores a simple header in front of goal from a great cross by Bacary Sagna. Newcastle 0-4 Arsenal.
38:40: Leon Best gets injured after a tussle with Djourou. Best receives treatment and game starts back at minute 40:50.
45:00: Two minutes of added time indicated.
47:15: Barton fouls Arshavin but keeps on playing. And then Diaby fouls Barton. Newcastle win the free kick despite the fact that Dowd should have first awarded a free kick for Barton’s tackle on Diaby.
48:44: Phil Dowd blows the whistle for half-time. An extra minute and 44 seconds of added time played by Dowd.
47:35: Djourou substituted due to injury. Squillaci comes on to replace him.
49:08: Barton and Diaby go in for 50-50 ball. Barton gets to the ball first but Djourou is knocked down by Barton recklessly following through the ball. Diaby raises arm and pushes Barton down, and then proceeds to push Nolan. Dowd makes the correct decision to red card Diaby in the turning point of this game. However, Barton should have received either a yellow or red card, in my opinion, for reckless behavior. Barton goes unpunished.
67:06: Koscielny fouls Best in the box. Penalty awarded to Newcastle. Dowd made correct call.
67:59: Barton scores the penalty. Newcastle 1-4 Arsenal.
68:04: Szczesny holds on to the ball and prevents Newcastle from getting it to take a quick kick off. Nolan pushes Szczesny to the ground. Dowd books Szczesny for time wasting. Nolan also receives yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct.
73:13: Leon Best scores for Newcastle, but he is ruled offside. Poor decision by assistant referee because Best was definitely onside.
74:24: Leon Best heads down cross in the box and knocks it into the back of the net. Newcastle 2-4 Arsenal. However the goal should have been disallowed because when Best’s header came down, he handled the ball before it fell to ground.
81:59: Phil Dowd awards a penalty to Newcastle after Rosicky pushed Williamson in the box. There was contact on Williamson, but as co-commentator Davie Provan said, it was a soft penalty. Nevertheless, Joey Barton scores from the penalty to make it Newcastle 3-4 Arsenal.
86:56: Cheik Tiote scores when he hits a ball mid-air into the bottom corner of the net. Newcastle 4-4 Arsenal.
90:00: Five minutes of added time announced.
93:06: Robin van Persie scores for Arsenal, but the goal is pulled back because the assistant referee flagged for offside. Correct decision.
In the key moments of the game where referee Phil Dowd or his assistant referees made controversial decisions, the disallowed goal by Leon Best should have been allowed. However, the officials missed the handball by Best in the 75th minute when he scored the goal, so that one should have been disallowed.
Since those two incorrect decisions cancel each other out, the decisive moment in the game then was the second penalty awarded for Newcastle in the 82nd minute. If referees awarded penalty for mild pushes like that in the Premier League, then there would be a significant increase in penalties called each Premier League weekend. It was a soft penalty to award. And Williamson looked like he was playing for it. In this instance, I believe Dowd made a poor decision and thus gave Newcastle an opportunity to equalize in the match.
So if all was fair, Arsenal would have held on for a 4-3 away victory. But as it was, Newcastle tied the match 4-4. Entertaining? Yes. Full of poor decisions by the officials? No. But there was one critical mistake made by Dowd which had a massive impact on the match. Namely the awarding of the second penalty.