‘Like a fantasy movie’ – Former Newcastle United head coach Alan Pardew recalls stunning 4-4 comeback draw with Arsenal 10-years on

Ten years ago Newcastle United completed the greatest comeback in Premier League history.

The Magpies were fresh from the £35 million sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool and were still getting used to life under new manager Alan Pardew when a fancied Arsenal side – sitting second in the table – came to Tyneside.

Newcastle could take some confidence from their impressive home wins against Liverpool and West Ham in Pardew’s opening matches in charge.

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But that confidence was dashed less than a minute into the match against the Gunners as Theo Walcott broke free and rolled the visitors into an instant 1-0 lead.

Newcastle United's Ivorian midfielder Cheik Tiote celebrates scoring their equalising goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, north-east England on February 5, 2011. (Photo: GRAHAM STUART/AFP via Getty Images)Newcastle United's Ivorian midfielder Cheik Tiote celebrates scoring their equalising goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, north-east England on February 5, 2011. (Photo: GRAHAM STUART/AFP via Getty Images)
Newcastle United's Ivorian midfielder Cheik Tiote celebrates scoring their equalising goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, north-east England on February 5, 2011. (Photo: GRAHAM STUART/AFP via Getty Images)

A bad start that would only get worse for United as further goals from Johan Djourou and Robin Van Persie saw Arsenal 3-0 up inside 10-minutes.

Van Persie found the net again on the 26-minute mark to make it 4-0. With just over a quarter of the game played, Newcastle looked down and out as some fans headed for the exit.

"Arsenal terrorized us," Pardew admitted.

“Any Arsenal fan will tell you who was at that game, at 4-0, literally [Newcastle fans] were walking out the stadium, throwing their season tickets.”

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew celebrates the equaliser during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on February 5, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)Newcastle manager Alan Pardew celebrates the equaliser during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on February 5, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew celebrates the equaliser during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on February 5, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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The Magpies needed four goals to somehow salvage something from the game and they’d have to do it without their recently departed top scorer.

With Carroll gone and Shola Ameobi injured, Pardew turned to the likes of Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger up front.

"It was probably as good a half-time period as I've had in terms of being able to manage a situation,” Pardew said on The Coaches' Voice.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew celebrates the equaliser during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on February 5, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)Newcastle manager Alan Pardew celebrates the equaliser during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on February 5, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew celebrates the equaliser during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on February 5, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

“You've got Joey Barton in the room, Shola Ameobi in the room, big characters, [Steve] Harper in the room, Kevin Nolan of course, people who have been at Newcastle all of their lives and suddenly 4-0 down at half-time this is unacceptable.”

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Five minutes into the second half, they would be handed a lifeline as Arsenal were reduced to 10-men. What proved to be a turning point saw Abou Diaby shown a straight red card for an altercation with Barton.

With just over 20-minutes to play, Newcastle reduced the deficit to three as Barton converted from the penalty spot.

Moments after having a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside, Best grabbed The Magpies’ second to make it a nervous final 15-minutes for Arsenal’s 10-men.

In normal circumstances, being two goals down in the closing stages of a match against Arsenal wouldn’t have been anything to be too hopeful about – but this wasn’t a normal game and Newcastle had the momentum.

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On 83-minutes, referee Phil Dowd awarded Newcastle another penalty after Mike Williamson was dubiously brought down. Barton stepped up again and scored to put the hosts on the verge of something spectacular.

And in the final minutes of normal time, the comeback was complete as the late Cheick Tiote smashed in his first and only goal in black and white (strictly speaking) with a stunning 25-yard volley into the bottom left corner as St. James’s Park erupted in sheer ecstasy.

Pardew concluded: “We managed to turn it into a second half which was almost like a fantasy movie really, it was amazing.”

Ten years on and the 4-4 draw remains the biggest comeback in the Premier League’s 29 season history.

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