Newcastle United are a one man team.
If it wasn’t for Allan Saint-Maximin, watching the Magpies would be an even greater slog.
The Frenchman has been a fan favourite ever since he arrived, but over the past few weeks he has developed into a talisman.
We have relied on him in key moments. And in those key moments, he delivered.
He played an important role off the bench against Spurs. Away to Burnley he won us the game off with an exhilarating cameo. He was untouchable in the first half against West Ham. He was a huge threat at Anfield.
But against Arsenal, it was clear that we can’t just rely on Saint-Maximin.
Saint-Maximin became anonymous against Arsenal
In the early stages, Saint-Maximin was our biggest threat against the Gunners. He was lively, driving at the defence from his new central position.
But as the game dragged on, the deeper he got. And the deeper he got, the less joy he had.
Towards the end of the game, Saint-Maximin was a despondent figure. There was no energy off the ball. He, just like many of his teammates, was resigned to defeat.
With Saint-Maximin underperforming, the Magpies had no chance.
Particularly in the first half, Newcastle’s game plan was clear – give the ball to Maxi, no matter what. Whether it was a two-yard pass or a long ball, the plan was to get it to Saint-Maximin at every opportunity.
That isn’t an efficient way to play football. Arsenal nullified the 24-year-old. In turn, they nullified our entire game plan.
Newcastle need to find a way of being a threat without Saint-Maximin.
Yes, he is clearly the most talented player at the club. But that does not mean we can rely on him for everything.
Newcastle were turgid on Sunday. There was no style or system. Just a thin veil of hope that one player in particular will run past everyone and possibly score.