Chronicle Live writer, Mark Douglas, recently wrangled Jose Enrique, Steve Harper, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan together in order to reminisce about Newcastle’s 4-4 draw with Arsenal seven years ago today, but the detailed piece only mentions the Magpies’ main helper twice.
On 5 February 2011, Arsenal went to St. James’ Park and were 4-0 up within 26 minutes.
Newcastle eventually fought back to draw 4-4, which was viewed as a superb victory for the Magpies.
But the result wasn’t down to them.
It was Phil Dowd who prevented the Gunners from winning three points that day. This is something most journos, pundits and fans seem to forget rather easily.
In fact, Mark Douglas’ piece for Chronicle Live only mentions the referee twice.
An early goal from Theo Walcott, another from Johan Djourou two minutes later and a brace from Robin van Persie should have put the Gunners out of sight before the half-hour mark. In fact, you wouldn’t have blamed most Geordies for switching off early and going for a pint.
But a second-half ‘fight back’ from the home side, managed by Alan Pardew at the time, left Arsenal choking and throwing away their four-goal lead.
Or did they?
The match ended 4-4, so what happened?
Phil Dowd, the referee on the day, happened.
It all started going downhill when Abou Diaby was shown red for after Barton brought him down and the injury-prone lost his tempter, throwing Barton to the floor by his neck.
“If you remember the tackle on Diaby, I actually came into the centre of midfield and past two central midfielders. I think I tackled him over the half-way line on the left-hand side: I haven’t gone in to hurt him, I’ve just gone in to rattle his cage and say ‘Hey, you aren’t going to dictate this game. It’s not going to be exhibition football in the second half’,” Barton told Chronicle Live.
“And he just snapped. It wasn’t even that bad of a tackle – it was hard but fair but he took objection to it and he grabbed me round the back of the neck. I thought ‘If he’s grabbed me here, if he gives me any excuse to get him sent off I’m going to get him sent off.’ I think he pushed me in the back, I went down and looked at the ref as if to say ‘What am I meant to do here?’”
He later added, “Momentum is so huge in football, which is why I’m so angry about VAR. You could lose that momentum in the midst of checking those decisions,” Barton said.
“It’s the Abou Diaby sending off that just switches the momentum. They’d gone from purring, playing Rolls Royce football and pass, pass, pass to all of a sudden it being ‘Oh no, we’ve got ten men’ and the momentum in the stadium just shifted.
“We never thought we’d get back to 4-4 but you could just feel the energy and the momentum. We got a goal back and I’m telling you, if that game goes on for five minutes more we’d have won that match because they were gone. Emotionally, they were gone.”
And didn’t we know it…
Barton was then given a soft penalty after Leon Best ‘tripped’ over Laurent Koscielny’s leg in the area. With the Gunners down to 10 men and rattled, Best went on to net Newcastle’s second seven minutes later.
Barton scored second penalty in the 83rd minute. Koscielny dared to jump for the same ball as Mike Williamson during a Newcastle free-kick. Williamson fell over when he landed and the linesman, Trevor Massey, called it.
Dowd pointed to the spot.
The look on Kos’ face, as well as Arsene Wenger’s reaction, spoke volumes as the Gunners desperately tried to make Dowd see sense. But it was obviously an impossible task.
“When there’s that much momentum and energy in the stadium you can imagine the referee getting caught up in that. The fans sensed blood,” recalls Barton.
“It was a ridiculous penalty to make it 4-3 and by then it’s a cauldron. That’s when St James’ Park is at its best,” Steve Harper chimes in.
Even writer Mark Douglas admits: “Two Arsenal defenders obstruct him but it doesn’t look like a penalty in the cold light of day.”
With minutes on the clock, the late Cheick Tioté made it 4-4 with a massive strike.
It’s interesting how the 4-4 draw is always remembered as a triumphant result for Newcastle – an example of team spirit yada yada. But really what happened was Arsenal were reduced to 10-men, kicked about a bit, and Newcastle were gifted one, if not two, outrageous penalties.
Doesn’t sound quite as romantic though, does it?
Very convoluted way of saying Diaby got sent off and Phil Dowd did peak Phil Dowd https://t.co/mEfyvJbnQ8
— Roman Abramovich Respecter (@SmolManSyndrome) February 5, 2018
Are we allowed to even mention Phil Dowd’s role in this?
— Öle Gunner (@OleGunner) February 5, 2018
complete robbery. Sure Diaby lost it but Dowd gave them the game, didn’t send off Barton and gave them 2 very generous penalties.
— Benjamin Sharp (@Sharpovic) February 5, 2018