The key quotes from Eddie Howe's first post-match press conference against Arsenal
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27: Eddie Howe, Manager of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on November 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe, who sat in the dugout for the first time after being absent from the 3-3 draw with Brentford last weekend due to a positive Covid-19 test, reflected on a "mixed" performance, as they suffered a 2-0 defeat against Arsenal.

After a goalless first-half in which they appeared to be more disciplined and organised, Newcastle's defence crumbled for the 13th time in a row as Bukayo Saka and his replacement Gabriel Martinelli both got on the scoresheet to leave The Magpies at the foot of the Premier League table. 

The black-and-whites remain the only side in the Football League yet to record a win this season and with two massive home games coming up against relegation rivals Norwich City and Burnley, six points is an absolute minimum to give themselves a fighting chance of survival. 

Howe spoke to NUFC TV to share his thoughts on the game.

  • "I thought we started really well for the first half an hour."

Howe selected an attacking line-up and set his team up in a 3-4-3 formation, but they defended in numbers as soon as the game got underway to try and thwart Arsenal.  

It looked like the game plan was working but the hosts quality proved too much in the end with England youngsters Saka and Emile Smith Rowe not giving the Newcastle defence a moment's rest.

And the turning point was when they started sitting too deep before the break and came under constant pressure which resulted in The Gunners scoring twice in the space of 10 minutes in the second-half.

Ultimately, the system malfunctioned and the defensive vulnerabilities showed yet again as Mikel Arteta's side could have won by a bigger margin if they converted their chances. Noticeably, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang somehow missed a glorious opportunity on the stroke of half-time from just six yards out. 

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  • "It's an outstanding save."

The Magpies' best chance in the whole game arrived just before the half-hour mark through Jonjo Shelvey and his 25-yard strike was superbly dealt with by Aaron Ramsdale, who tipped it onto the crossbar with a strong left hand.

Howe, who is familiar with Ramsdale's goalkeeping abilities from their time together at AFC Bournemouth, was ready to celebrate for the first time in the hot seat but admitted that "those big moments do change games"

Newcastle's head coach also offered praise for Martin Dubravka as the Slovakian made his first appearance of the season and pulled off a string of excellent saves to keep the score respectable. 

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  • "My initial reaction was that Callum was goal-side... there's no way he's going to go over unless he's fouled."

Before Martinelli doubled Arsenal's advantage, Newcastle had a strong shout for a penalty when Callum Wilson was adamant he had been tripped by Gabriel in the box, but referee Stuart Attwell and VAR officials dismissed the protests. 

Howe stated that he "needed to see it again to be proved right or wrong", but will no doubt admit that luck is certainly not with his side. 

The decision proved decisive for The Magpies as The Gunners have now won 17 of their last 18 top-flight games against Newcastle, with the visitors failing to score in the last six meetings.  

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  • "We can't feel sorry for ourselves."

The stats don't make good reading for Newcastle.

In a 38-game Premier League season, the only club to have gone this long without a win and still avoided relegation is Derby County and that was 20 years ago. Interestingly, The Rams won at the 14th time of asking so Howe's side head into Tuesday evening's game with The Canaries in a must win encounter. 

But Howe will still believe he can keep The Magpies in the top-flight, despite the frightening scenario they find themselves in.   

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  • "I thought they were absolutely amazing for us today."

Without question, the Toon Army supporters deserve a magnitude of praise for their tremendous support at the Emirates Stadium.

Another sold-out capacity away end made the trip to North London, despite it being an early Saturday lunchtime kick-off and also not helped by the difficulties and disruptions that Storm Arwen had caused across the UK. 

But for a side who sit bottom of the table, the reaction at the full-time whistle from the travelling supporters was astonishing with Howe and the team being roared off the pitch. No matter the result, there's no denying that the fanbase is fiercely loyal.   

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