Nick De Marco – who is representing Newcastle United in their dispute with the Premier League – didn’t get to see a classic tonight as Steve Bruce’s side bowed out of the FA Cup on a bitterly cold night in the capital.
The QC, challenging last summer’s “rejection” of a proposed £300million takeover, had had a meeting with the club’s hierarchy at the stadium before the third-round tie.
What De Marco 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 the game looked to be heading for penalties before a mistake let in Smith Rowe.
Bruce had made seven changes. Without Callum Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey, Bruce 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.
United's best chances fell to Carroll, who had scored the club’s only winning goal at the stadium more than a decade ago.
And Bruce’s players must 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.
Joelinton 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 Ritchie at the break, and Newcastle were better. They attacked more and they created more. Ritchie found Carroll with one free-kick, and the striker – 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, Dubravka 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 could’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.