Arsenal travelled to Tyneside to face a Newcastle side that have not registered a victory in their last four Premier League meetings, a fairly dismal record as opposed to the Gunners, with four wins in their previous five league fixtures.
The statistics pointed favourably towards an Arsenal victory, and it certainly looked that way for most part of the first half. The North Londoners cruised into the half time break with an impressive 4-0 lead. Things were looking good for the Gunners, until a moment of sheer madness shortly after second period turned the game on its heels.
Joey Barton, Newcastle's controversial play maker, made a lunging tackle at the feet of Abou Diaby. The challenge could have easily taken the legs off the French midfielder. Albeit being unscathed by the horrendous tackle, Diaby completely lost his head and shoved Barton head first into the grass.
What followed was a straight red for Diaby and perhaps one of the most memorable comebacks in Premier League history.
So, who is to blame?
Diaby undoubtedly should not have reacted in the manner that he did, but in his defense, Barton's tackle was deserving of a sending off as well. After failing to send Barton off, referee Phil Dowd was arguably guilty of double standards yet again when Newcastle's captain Kevin Nolan pummelled Wojciech Szczesny onto the ground. Diaby received a red card for a similar incident, so why had Nolan gone unpunished? Only Phil Dowd can tell us.
Arsenal critics too have long been siphoning blame unto Arsene Wenger, and many Arsenal fans may feel less than vindicated by the fact the Arsenal manager remains a spectator in the transfer market. Perhaps if the manager had brought in a new centre back, Arsenal would have been more decisive at the back and held on to their four goal lead.
Blame whoever you want, at the end of the day it is two points dropped for Arsenal, and thus fading title ambitions.
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