Taking this time out to remember Cheick Tiote and his time in England, as the Ivorian became a powerhouse hard-tackling midfielder for Newcastle United and country Ivory Coast. Tiote was signed from Dutch side FC Twente for £3.5 million in 2010 scoring just one league goal during his time in England against Arsenal in a thrilling match that ended 4-4.
On the 5th of February 2011, Newcastle and Arsenal had an unreal encounter at St James’ Park that couldn’t be forgotten in years to come. Newcastle lined up Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Joey Barton, Cheick Tiote Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands Leon Best, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini and Jose Enrique to face Arsenal, that had a line up of Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou, Gael Clichy, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby, Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin and Robin van Persie.
In a game of two halves that seemed each side having a claim of each, the game was everything you could possibly think of, of a footballing match filled with highs and lows. One nil, two nil, three nil, all in the space of the first 10 minute for Arsenal, with fans already dreaming of a high-scoring victory.
Theo Walcott put Arsenal ahead after 42 seconds, running into space behind the Newcastle back line to pick up Andrey Arshavin’s flick from the centre circle and easily fielding off Fabricio Coloccini to score. Little did everyone know that the next goal was only 2 minutes away, When Arshavin sent over a free-kick from the left, Johan Djourou was permitted a free header from six yards out to put Arsenal two up just after 3 minutes. Must’ve have been something special watching from St. James’ Park.
With pace and penetration to exploit the situation to unsettle Newcastle’s defence, Walcott set up Arsenal’s third after 10 minutes, skipping round José Enrique with ease, crossing the ball to Robin van Persie to strike a shot past Steve Harper. Arsenal further increased their lead with 26 minutes gone when Van Persie headed Bacary Sagna’s cross home, and it came as a surprise that the scoreline remained at 4-0 when the half-time whistle handed the Magpies brief respite. The Magpies knew they needed a miracle in the second half to salvage something from the game.
In the 50th minute, Abou Diaby was shown red after retaliating to a very aggressive tackle on himself by Joey Barton who would count himself lucky not to see red also. I guess the Magpies got their silver lining amongst the grey sky.
Koscielny conceded a penalty and was converted by Joey Barton to give the Magpies a glimmer of hope but in 7 minutes, found themselves reduced the deficit to two goals when Leon Best reacted quickest to a Jose Enrique cross. The second penalty was hugely belligerent, for a seemingly non-existent foul by Koscielny on Mike Williamson. Barton scored again.
In the 87th minute, the Magpies had a free kick taken by bad boy Joey Barton that was cleared as Tiote reacted quickest from some yards out as he struck the equalizer with three minutes to go on the clock. The whole stadium was in euphoria as soon as the ball hit the back of the net, thus creating one of the greatest comebacks in Premier League history, leaving the deceased Tiote as the only League goal scored during his playing days at Newcastle United. Take a bow.
Many Arsenal fans would remember this match and this day likewise the Magpies supporters but they’d be the one to hold this dearest and would always Tiote for his late moment of brilliance against Arsenal.