Arsenal 0 Newcastle United 1
THERE should come a time when Andy Carroll will stop appearing on the front pages of newspapers for all the wrong reasons, but you suspect he will continue to grab back page headlines for years to come.
Carroll’s name was once again dragged through the gutter yesterday by a Sunday newspaper report which suggested he had been involved in a drug-fuelled orgy in the aftermath of last weekend’s thrashing of Sunderland.
In reality, Newcastle’s number nine appears to have done nothing more than enjoy himself as a single man can, celebrating one of the greatest derby results in the club’s history.
Certainly that is the view of the club, which was forced to release another statement in support of the young striker yesterday, denying any wrong doing on his behalf or any knowledge that the three girls who came back with him and Kevin Nolan to the latter’s house in Ponteland in the early hours of the morning were using drugs.
Whatever the news value of that particular story – and it is debatable if there was much at all – we probably should have expected this sort of reaction from a player who is rapidly becoming one of the most talked about front men in the Premier League.
Carroll never seems to play better than when he is under pressure and in front of the watching Fabio Capello, he gave a targetman performance which screamed England call-up against France next week.
Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger had tipped the 21-year-old for one in the build up to this game and the Frenchman knows a thing about spotting young talent. Nobody is better at it in European football, although that will have been of little comfort to him as Carroll scored the only goal of the game yesterday with a trademark header.
But it was not just Carroll’s goal which excited in North London. His all round display oozed potential and dripped class. It is something of a cliche to suggest big men do not normally possess a delicate touch, but Carroll successfully combines raw strength and finesse in a way rarely seen on these shores.
Nevertheless, it would be unjust to suggest he won this game on his own. For the third game in succession, every single Newcastle player did their jobs superbly. For the first time in nine years they made an Arsenal side look ordinary on their own turf and this was a victory which, in its own way, should be savoured every bit as much as last weekend’s humiliation of the Black Cats. The fact this was Newcastle first win over the Gunners since 2001 says it all.