We’ve picked a great moment to start this match review column haven’t we? 

Arsenal away – two words that send shivers down any Toon fan’s spine. The last time we won there was a mere decade ago; it didn’t look good for us tonight, nor our manager. Steve Bruce has been under intense pressure since we lost at Brentford. A change in formation and personnel, with the manager making 8 changes tonight, thought it might bring some joy to a searing Tyneside. Unfortunately it was more like Groundhog Day.

My first article on True Faith leads me to the classic player rating. I mean, could I have really picked a better/worse game? Let me get right into it;

Darlow – 7 – Two world class saves from Lacazette to keep the score from being a whitewash.  The best thing that has happened to us this season, and the best English goalkeeper on the planet right now. Mr. Southgate, if you think you can win a European Championship with that mackem in goal then you need your head examined.

Lewis – 2 – Woeful for the majority of the game. Positionally not good enough, gets away with major criticism because of his age. Simple fact is, he isn’t good enough defensively. Saka (19) made it look like man against boy tonight. I have no doubt this guy has so much more to give, I’m just not seeing it yet.

Krafth–3 – Is a regular scapegoat for Toon fans and it’s obvious why. Tonight he was poor – couldn’t keep up with the pace of Tierney and Aubameyang, but showed some endeavour in the first 20 minutes with Almiron on that right side. Still nowhere near good enough for the RB position.

Lascelles – 3 – All over the place on set pieces. David Luiz had his number on corner kicks. Smith Rowe really showed him up for the second goal. He’s a leader, a talker, and a fighter, but I’m just not convinced anymore if he’s a defender.

Clark – 6 – Big mistake for the 3rd goal but fought for the team, showed more fight than any of the other back four. This guy has to be given a new contract. He is more integral to the club than any other defenderright now.

M Longstaff – 3 – Toon fans have been crying out for Sean’s younger brother for weeks, but he just didn’t impose himself on the game tonight. Game passed him by. Steve, if you are reading this now, play Elliot Anderson in midfield and you might, just might, have a chance of keeping this team up.

Shelvey – 1 – An embarrassment to his team mates, an embarrassment to his manager and an embarrassment to NUFC. Doesn’t even look interested anymore.

Joelinton – 0 –Woeful, inept, useless, lazy, pathetic. And that’s being kind.

Almiron – 6 – Looked our only attacking threat in the first half. Did enough to convince me in 45 minutes he has to start every game until Maximin is back.

Carroll – 5 – Put a shift in as usual, but hardly threatened Leno. Had a decent shot outside the box on 55 minutes, but nowhere nearas good as he was in the Cup game 10 days ago.

Wilson – 4 – Normallyman of the match but was bereft of any service tonight. A fantastic player in a very poor team. No goals in 7 games now. Looks lost, needs a new manager, possibly a new agent.

Subs

Murphy(69 for Carroll) – 4 – Uninspiring, disinterested, standard Bruce substitution when going a goal down. Asking the world of him at 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go. Arguably should have started at RB over Krafth.

Hendrick (78 for M. Longstaff) – 1 – Would be happy if I never saw him in a Toon shirt again.

Anderson (87 for Almiron) – N/A – Has to start against Villa on Saturday, from what I’ve seen of him already, this guy looks the real deal.The only shining light in a bleak midwinter for the club this January.

Well there you have it. Another loss again tonight, and we are still clinging onto that 15thspot. With Aston Villa, Leeds and Everton to come, it really looks ominous for the manager.  Right now, under Bruce, it’s like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic – we are a sinking ship and nobody can save us.

JAMES LYNCH – @JamesLynch88