Newcastle United drew 0-0 with Norwich City Tuesday in what was easily the most frustrating point of the 2013-14 season. A day after losing Yohan Cabaye to Paris St-Germain, Alan Pardew named an aggressive lineup, ordered them to press high up the pitch, and it worked.
Except that they couldn't find the back of the net.
Part of it was dumb luck, as Newcastle hit the post three times, but part of it was also inaccuracy - only 3 of their 22 shots were on target, and one of those that missed was a Hatem Ben Arfa sitter that went well over the crossbar. For a team that has frankly had trouble putting shots on goal all season, it was a disappointing return to the norm.
There were positive developments in the buildup, to be sure. Sammy Ameobi and Hatem Ben Arfa were especially creative, though the end product from each was a little less than ideal. Loic Remy, who accounted for two of the shots that found the frame, looked motivated to find the back of the net.
Of course, he didn't, and now he won't get the opportunity to do so for the next three games, thanks to a red card he received in the 81st minute. After being fouled by Bradley Johnson from behind, Remy turned and got in his face. Johnson, ever the opportunist, was sniped from the stands for the second time against Newcastle (having previously been taken down in a similar situation with Joey Barton). Chris Foy, who quite obviously didn't see the incident, nevertheless sent both players off.
Unfortunately for the Toon, this doesn't look like a case that the FA will be eager to dismiss. Yes, it was a harsh (to be kind) decision, but Remy did push Johnson and then show some further aggression, and the governing body will not want to reward that behavior by reinstalling him for Saturday's derby match.
Some momentum going into that affair would have been nice, but instead Newcastle have ground to a halt. Save us, Luuk de Jong?