The German’s reckless tackle caused a melee at St James’ Park (Picture: Getty)
The Gunners had done a good job of taking the sting out of the match at St James’ Park and were controlling the tempo of the game, only for things to explode shortly before half-time.
Havertz rushed out to close down Sean Longstaff and launched himself at the Newcastle midfielder, wiping him out and sparking a massive melee among all the players.
The Newcastle crowd had been a little sedate up until then but erupted, calling for a red card, though both the referee and VAR agreed that a yellow would suffice.
Newcastle’s players were livid with Havertz’s challenge and a number of them engaged in shoving matches with their opponents, also berating the officials for not dishing out a red card.
By the time the furore had died down, referee Stuart Atwell had dished out further yellow cards to Longstaff, Anthony Gordon and Fabian Scar for dissent.
Neville initially laid into Havertz for ‘poking the bear’ and waking up the St James’ Park crowd, though retracted that stance as a host of Newcastle’s players ended up in the book – with Bruno Guimares subsequently ‘losing his head’ too.
Havertz’s wild challenge sparked a melee between the players (Picture: Getty)
The St James’ Park crowd erupted after Havertz’s challenge (Picture: Getty)
Reacting to the challenge, Neville said on Sky Sports: ‘What’s he doing? What is he doing!?
‘I mean, Arsenal have got pretty decent control of the game, with and without the ball. The last thing you want to do is poke the bear.
‘Declan Rice trying to calm things down. He [Havertz] was never there, it’s a stupid challenge. It’s just a stupid, stupid challenge. I think it was dangerous, personally. He was never getting there, he lunges in.’
But as Atwell dished out the yellows, he backtracked: ‘So out of that challenge he’s done pretty well Kai Havertz actually! He’s got three Newcastle players booked! That’s a good tactic! I take it all back!’
Soon after that, Guimares appeared to leave an elbow in on Jorginho and was very lucky to escape a booking, with Neville of the belief that the Brazilian was still riled up from the Havertz episode.
‘I think he is a lucky boy. He dives in initially, so his head’s gone. You see it in slow-motion, no, not having that. I think he’s a lucky boy,’ said the former Manchester United defender.
‘I just think it’s so unnecessary, it’s just such an obvious arm or elbow in the head for no reason – other than the fact he wants to give someone a whack.
‘His head has gone here Guimaraes. Eddie Howe needs to get him in at half-time, he needs to get his team off the pitch or else they are going to be in trouble. Havertz started all this about 10 minutes ago but Newcastle have reacted poorly to it.’
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The German’s reckless tackle caused a melee at St James’ Park.