Newcastle fights back for 4-4 draw with Arsenal
Arsenal threw away a four-goal lead to draw 4-4 with Newcastle in an astonishing Premier League game on Saturday.
The Gunners were 3-0 ahead inside 10 minutes thanks to goals from Theo Walcott, Johan Djourou and Robin van Persie.
Dutch striker Van Persie headed in the fourth before halftime, but Abou Diaby's push on Joey Barton left Arsenal to play out the final 40 minutes with 10 men and Newcastle seized its chance.
Barton scored twice from the spot either side of a goal by Leon Best before Cheik Tiote completed the unlikely comeback with a crisp volley in the 87th minute.
It was the first time a team had come back from 4-0 down in the Premier League, and Kevin Nolan might even have won it for the hosts but his late effort was just wide of the post.
''It's one of the most remarkable games I have ever been involved in in my life,'' Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said.
Manchester United's surprise defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers meant second-place Arsenal actually closed the gap on the league leaders to four points, but the manner of his side's surrender troubled manager Arsene Wenger.
''Mathematically, two points; psychologically, the damage is a bit bigger tonight because everybody is, of course, very, very disappointed in the dressing room,'' Wenger said.
''But only the future will tell.''
The Gunners were at their fluent best in the first half against a Newcastle side still reeling from the transfer deadline day departure of star striker Andy Carroll to Liverpool.
''You must be kidding. Yes,'' was Pardew's response when asked if Carroll's surprise exit had influenced his side's woeful first-half display.
''That was part of what I said at halftime. They were a disgrace in some things that we did. The second half, though, more than made up for it.''
Andrey Arshavin's flick released Walcott, who slotted past Steve Harper with less than a minute gone, and two minutes later, Djourou headed in his first goal for Arsenal to make it 2-0 before Van Persie converted Walcott's cross for the third goal after 10 minutes.
When Van Persie headed in for 4-0 from Bacary Sagna's cross, some Newcastle fans began to head for the exit.
The turning point came when Diaby reacted to Barton's firm challenge by pushing the midfielder over, earning himself a straight red card.
''It was a completely unnecessary sending-off, and I believe Barton was very lucky to stay on the pitch for the tackle on Diaby,'' Wenger said. ''(Diaby) has been injured so many times from bad tackles that he lost a bit quickly his nerves because this boy has been out for a long time and many times.''
Barton began the comeback from the penalty spot after Laurent Koscielny brought down Best, who then scored a close-range effort to make it 4-2 with 15 minutes remaining.
Barton stepped up to the spot again after Koscielny was adjudged to have fouled Mike Williamson before Tiote's first goal for Newcastle - a left-footed volley - earned the Magpies a point.