REMEMBER Newcastle United’s London hoodoo? Or perhaps more pertinently if you’re a fan of the Magpies, do you remember the day it was broken?

When Newcastle travelled to Highbury to take on Arsenal in December 2001, it is safe to say they did so more in hope than expectation.

After all, it had been 1997 since the Magpies had last claimed a victory of any description in London. In the intervening period, they had played 30 matches in the capital against a variety of sides, in a variety of competitions. The common denominator? Newcastle had failed to win any of them.

So, when Robert Pires opened the scoring after 20 minutes in Arsenal’s famous old stadium, which has subsequently made way for the Emirates, slotting home after some sensational build-up play from Thierry Henry, it looked as though things were set to follow a familiar script.

However, the game changed just before half-time when referee Graham Poll sent off Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour for a second yellow card.

The Northern Echo: Referee Graham Poll during Newcastle's win over ArsenalReferee Graham Poll during Newcastle's win over Arsenal (Image: PA)

Starting the second half against ten men, there was a sense that perhaps Newcastle could get something, and while they initially struggled to break down Arsenal’s well-organised defence, Sir Bobby Robson’s substitutions made the difference just before the hour mark. On came Laurent Robert and Lomana Lua Lua for Robbie Elliot and Nolberto Solano, and the game was transformed.

Newcastle levelled two minutes after the double change, with defender Andy O’Brien powerfully heading home from a Lua Lua corner.

The Northern Echo: Andy O'Brien celebrates his goalAndy O'Brien celebrates his goal (Image: PA)

However, just when it looked as though the visitors were getting on top, there was another twist when they were also reduced to ten men, with Poll dismissing Craig Bellamy after he caught Arsenal full-back Ashley Cole with a flailing arm.

With both sides playing with ten, the game became relatively even, before Poll assumed centre stage once again with four minutes remaining.

Sol Campbell appeared to take the ball when he slid in to challenge Robert after the Frenchman had gone round Stuart Taylor in the penalty area, but Poll felt it was a foul and pointed to the spot.

Arsenal’s players were furious, but staying calm amongst the delirium, Alan Shearer stepped up to hammer home from the spot. It was his first-ever goal at Highbury.

Arsenal poured forward in search of a late leveller, but in doing so, they left themselves exposed, and as the away fans celebrated raucously, Newcastle added a third goal in stoppage time.

Lua Lua sent Robert galloping clear, and the substitute held his nerve to beat Taylor and confirm his side’s surprise success.

The Northern Echo: Laurent Robert celebrates with his team-matesLaurent Robert celebrates with his team-mates (Image: PA)

There were angry scenes after the final whistle, with Newcastle’s players having to intervene to prevent Henry from getting to Poll to vent his fury.

With the game taking place in late December, Robson described his side’s victory as “the best early Christmas present I have had for many, many years.”

The win took Newcastle to the top of the Premiership table, with Robson adding: “I still don’t think we will win the championship, but we will challenge those who think they can win it.”

ARSENAL: Taylor, Lauren, Campbell, Keown, Cole, Pires, Parlour, Vieira, Henry, Kanu (Bergkamp), Wiltord (van Bronckhorst).

NEWCASTLE: Given, Hughes, O'Brien, Dabizas, Elliott (Robert), Dyer, Solano (Lua Lua), Bernard (Distin), Speed, Shearer, Bellamy.