Newcastle owners get a glimpse of the future, Bruno reveals the signing he wants and an emotional goodbye – Ciaran Kelly

Newcastle United saved the best to last in their final home game of the campaign. It was supposed to be Arsenal playing for a place in the top four but, on Monday night, it was the Magpies who looked like the side battling for a place at the top of Europe after a stunning 2-0 win at St James’ Park.

Forget beating Arsenal – it had been almost four years since Newcastle had even managed to score a goal against the Gunners. That’s what made the manner of this victory so impressive – however poor the visitors.

The relentless hosts just didn’t let Arsenal settle in and put in their best overall performance yet under Eddie Howe as they were roared by over 49,000 Geordies on another special night under the lights . As well as dominating possession, territory and shot count, Newcastle made sure their dominance counted in the second half.

READ MORE: Newcastle mock Arsenal status, Bruno taunts and St James’ Park farewell – 5 things

Ben White put the ball in his own net in the 55th minute after Joelinton’s cross from the left and then Bruno Guimaraes, who of course was once wanted by Arsenal, sealed the three points half an hour later. late after first reacting to a loose ball before heading home calmly.

It was the least Newcastle deserved on a night that looked like a glimpse into the future of the Magpies. Amanda Staveley, Mehrdad Ghodoussi and Jamie Reuben were all in attendance, alongside new director Majed Al Sorour, and the quartet have all the inspiration they need ahead of a busy summer window. If it’s reception now, can you imagine the scenes if Newcastle actually had an even stronger side winning something someday?

Just as Bruno and all hinted at what was to come and a more forward approach, supporters also had a chance to say goodbye to some longtime retainers on Monday night. This is why the traditional appreciation lap was particularly important as it could end up serving as a farewell to St James for a number of seasoned pros. Although no official decision has yet been made, Howe has already admitted he is ‘sure there will be players who move on and have represented the club brilliantly’.

It remains to be seen who will go but, perhaps, it was no surprise that players, staff and all their families spent around 10 minutes outside the Gallowgate End taking it all in after the game while special guests Ant and Dec watched on the ground. Bruno, Miguel Almiron, Martin Dubravka, Kieran Trippier, Allan Saint-Maximin, Dan Burn, Joelinton and Matt Targett were all soon serenaded with their own individual chants.

Targett, of course, is among those facing an uncertain future as his loan spell comes to an end and the left-back looks visibly emotional as supporters repeatedly chant: “There is no only one Matt Targett!” If Bruno has anything to do with it, Targett will stay and the Brazil international hijacked his teammates in-house interview with club media after the game to say: “He has to stay!”

So it was an emotional night for so many and you can see why it certainly didn’t feel like a meaningless end-of-season game. In fact, you wouldn’t have known that Newcastle had already reached mathematical security.

Full time contrasting emotions

Captain Jamaal Lascelles intended to ’cause an upheaval’ and warned ‘Arsenal know coming to St James’ is going to be a tough game for them”. Kieran Trippier insisted Newcastle ‘must match them – he there’s no excuse.” Joelinton, meanwhile, hoped his side could give the fans “the three points they deserve”.

Once upon a time in an earlier era when Newcastle’s levels may have plummeted in the penultimate game of the season, but Howe was not about to let go in the final week of the campaign as the Magpies tried to keep their hopes of a top. half finish alive and potentially look to finish with their best points total since 2014.

“It’s so important that we play our last game at home and leave our supporters with a good feeling for the summer and whet their appetite for what’s to come next year,” Howe told reporters ahead of the game. match. “It’s vitally important.”

Newcastle had failed to score a single point against the top-five sides this season, so it was another test of how far the black-and-whites have come after back-to-back defeats to Liverpool and Man City. Newcastle, after all, had already lost 33 Premier League games against Arsenal – more than they have against any team in the competition – and had been the losing side in 17 of their 18 senior encounters. previous level.

However, in some ways it didn’t seem like the worst time to face Arsenal and there was a positive feeling in the camp even as the players went through their final tactical fixes on Monday morning. Arsenal may have been a wounded animal, desperate to bounce back from a 3-0 loss to bitter rivals Spurs four days earlier which again opened the race for the top four, but the vulnerable Gunners were forced to line up Gabriel and Ben White. at the back despite their pair’s recent hamstring issues. Although Newcastle have failed to score in any of their previous seven games against Arsenal and have beaten the Londoners at home only once since 2006, that should have encouraged the hosts, particularly at residence.

It is no coincidence, after all, that Newcastle have won six of their previous seven league games at St James’ Park. Supporters certainly played their part in turning this stadium into a fortress once again and fans helped create another electric atmosphere even before a ball was thrown on Monday night as Wor Flags produced their biggest show yet.

The East Stand before kick-off
The East Stand before kick-off

Was it any wonder that the band members were invited to meet the players and staff at the training ground on Saturday? Nearly 100 volunteers helped to ensure that every Newcastle supporter was involved as around 49,000 sheets of aluminum foil were placed on the seats to create a stunning display across the four stands, which included the word ” UNITED” spelled out on the East Stand and a “Newcastle United Football Club Banner that stretched across the Gallowgate with a picture of one of this season’s celebratory dressing room photographs.

The players wouldn’t have needed any extra motivation for a game against Arsenal, but they couldn’t help but gaze around the stadium as substitute skipper Callum Wilson led his side on his first start since December after recovering from an embarrassing calf problem. St James’ has been loud for the past few months, but it was another octave in total.

Substitute Matt Ritchie had told his team-mates that “if you can’t stand up for it, you shouldn’t be playing football” and the players certainly fed on the energy of the crowd. Indeed, it was noted how Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale took his time with goal kicks in the early stages in a bid to slow play as Newcastle riled the visitors by pressing them high and forcing them to make mistakes at the back.

On the ball, Newcastle looked to pick out the snitch Wilson with balls over the top on a night when even not losing a front tooth and having a bloody mouth could affect the number nine after a bad first-half collision .

There were eight minutes on the clock when Matt Targett played Wilson down the left with such a pass and a nervous White had to resort to taking a yellow card and pulling Wilson back. Bruno whipped in the resulting free-kick, but no one could touch the Brazil international’s dangerous delivery to watch it in the net.

Newcastle, crucially, failed to allow Arsenal to set up and Bruno quickly opened the Gunners up in the 18th minute with a slip pass but Sean Longstaff’s cross in front of goal was cleared. As Martin Dubravka propelled the supporters behind the Gallowgate End into a frenzy, waving his arms up and down, you sensed Newcastle had to make that pressure and possession count given Arsenal’s quality at home. ‘coming.

Indeed, the Gunners sent a timely warning midway through the first half when Bukayo Saka cut down the right for the first time and saw a shot blocked behind by Dan Burn. Yet, remarkably, it ended up proving one of Arsenal’s only real openings. had throughout the game.

In fact, it was Allan Saint-Maximin who produced the best half-time effort in the 36th minute as the Frenchman slid down the left flank and forced Ramsdale to a fine save with his effort drilled near the post. Newcastle didn’t have that all-important first goal to show for their efforts, but it was no surprise the players were cheered off the pitch minutes later after one of their best first-half performances. time of the season.

You imagine Howe simply asked for more of the same during his half-time team chat in a bid to finally get the full performance he wanted in 90 minutes. While Newcastle might have been disrupted by a head injury Fabian Schar early in the second half, the hosts quickly scored the goal their dominance deserved in the 55th minute. Joelinton galloped down the left and White, knowing Wilson was hiding, could only turn the Brazilian’s cross into his own net.

The roof detached from the stadium and rather than sit down as they would have done months ago, Newcastle set off in search of a second killer. Wilson fired some more in the 63rd minute after falling on the end of Bruno’s cross, then blocked a shot behind for a corner from close range minutes later.

Wondered if that second slayer was coming for Newcastle as Wilson and substitute Jacob Murphy were denied late, but Bruno sealed the three in the 85th minute with a calm close-range finish after Ramsdale brought down Wilson while Newcastle signed to in St James style.

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About Michael B. Billingsley

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