Arsenal beat Newcastle at their own game on Sunday and Eddie Howe didn’t like it. The Magpies boss had no problem with his team timewasting at the Emirates in January but made sure to call out the Gunners for doing the same at the weekend.
Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners at St James’ Park to keep their hopes of winning the Premier League alive. Martin Odegaard’s long-range effort put the visitors ahead early on before Fabian Schar’s second-half own goal doubled their advantage.
The Gunners were frustrated by Newcastle four months ago, drawing 0-0 at home. On that occasion, Howe’s side were sure to take their time at every possible opportunity.
The ball was in play for just 51 minutes and 23 seconds for the goalless draw. Afterwards, Howe hit back at complaints over his team’s game management.
He said: “We are not here to be popular and to get other teams to like us. We are here to compete and to compete, we have to give everything to try and get a positive result.
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“I’ve got no issue saying that. That is our job and that’s what we’re going to try and continue to do.”
Opta Analyst stats, as outlined on Sky Sports News, show that the ball is in play just 52 per cent of the time during Newcastle matches this season. That is the lowest percentage of any team in the Premier League.
Newcastle were not happy with the length of time Aaron Ramsdale took to take his goal kicks on Sunday. But Opta stats also show that no team takes longer over their goal kicks this season than Howe’s side, averaging 36.8 seconds from the ball going out.
Only Brentford take longer than Newcastle to restart a match following any delay. The Toon average 29.9 seconds while the Bees are up at 31.4.
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Howe has now been dealt a dose of his own medicine. The difference being from the January draw that Arsenal took the lead after just 14 minutes on Sunday.
They had every right to do all they could to secure a valuable three points. Mikel Arteta left his managerial counterpart red-faced and Howe’s comments proved how much it affected his team.
He said after the defeat: “It was frustrating from our perspective. We wanted the ball the play, we wanted to find our rhythm. It was very stop-start.
“That was suiting, of course, the away team. As the home team, you want the ball in play, so it was frustrating in that sense for us, definitely.
“They managed the game well from their perspective. They slowed it down, lots of breaks in play, frustrating for us. Naturally, we wanted the ball in play more especially when you are chasing the game.
“But we have to look at what we can control. We can’t control that, that’s the referee’s job. What we can control is our ability to take our chances, and possibly defend better than we did today.”
Arteta admitted his team did all they could to get the job done. The Spaniard said: “For sure, our team isn’t like that. I don’t want to get close to that conversation with the game that we had to play today.”
Newcastle have come a long way this season and even improved vastly since January. Howe must be prepared for more teams to adopt Arsenal’s approach at St James’ Park a lot more moving forward.
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