Newcastle were swept aside by Arsenal at the Emirates on Monday night, and Andy Gray has slammed the Magpies’ performance.
Rafael Benitez’s side have made St. James’ Park a fortress in recent months, but they haven’t had the same luck away from home.
In fact, their last away win in the league came at Huddersfield back in December, and Arsenal made it look all too easy on Monday as goals from Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette locked up all three points for the Gunners.
Gray, who made his living as a target man, was not impressed by the Tyneside outfit, particularly in an attacking sense.
“Newcastle were disappointing. They were like they were at the start of the season – flat, and never offered a thing in attack,” he said.
“They were punchless. I felt for Salomon Rondon, I have played up there and I know what’s it like going to these grounds and not getting a kick. That’s what Rondon would feel like.
“Arsenal were never threatened. It was too easy for them.”
Gray is not exactly a popular figure on British television nowadays, having formed somewhat of a dream-team of ignorance with Richard Keys on BeIN Sports’ pundit team.
However, it’s quite hard to disagree with his verdict on Newcastle’s performance at Arsenal, and more worryingly it is a pretty apt analysis of nearly every Magpies away trip.
But Gray also highlighted Rondon as a player who was not involved enough, and while that is true, the 63 year-old has failed to recognise the true source of the problem.
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Rafael Benitez said his side requires another “£40m, £50m or £75m” on attacking players after the game, but the real issue is in midfield.
Miguel Almiron, Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez would get into most Premier League teams outside the top six, but how many would Mo Diame and Isaac Hayden get into?
Newcastle’s inability to mark their presence in away games and really threaten opponents is down to a lack of control in the middle of the park, and an experienced but dynamic partner for Sean Longstaff should be top priority this summer.
Whether or not Mike Ashley backs Benitez enough to fix this issue though is truly a question for another day.