Andy Carroll finally made headlines for the right reasons as the striker gave Newcastle a shock 1-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Carroll, who along with team-mate Kevin Nolan had been the subject of lurid newspaper allegations about his private life hours before kick-off, rose superbly to claim the only goal of the game moments before the interval.
That was enough to ensure Newcastle claimed a third successive league victory, while Arsenal's title challenge was dented by their second defeat in six home league games.
The Gunners failed to offer enough of an attacking threat despite dominating long periods of possession and a miserable afternoon was summed up by the dismissal of Laurent Koscielny in added time.
Yet while Arsenal laboured in front of goal, Carroll's predatory instincts stood out and will no doubt have caught the eye of England coach Fabio Capello.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose private life was also subject to newspaper allegations over the weekend, recalled the fit again Cesc Fabregas as one of five changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk midweek.
Fabregas admitted he had struggled with a lingering hamstring problem during the narrow home victory over bottom club West Ham eight days previously.
But the Gunners captain appeared in much livelier form and came close to giving his side a 13th minute lead when he struck a 25-yard free kick against the bar.
Manchester United's victory over Wolvers 24 hours previously meant Arsenal needed to win to maintain a share of second place.
Yet there were few signs of urgency during a tepid first half that only came to life in the final minute before the interval.
Wenger had accused his side of taking their foot off the pedal when they squandered an early lead against Shakhtar.
But against an improving Newcastle side, they failed even to develop initial momentum.
Fabregas remained the home side's biggest threat and he twice combined with Samir Nasri towards the end of the half during a brief period when Arsenal applied a period of pressure.
First, in the 39th minute, Nasri released his colleague inside the Newcastle area only for Fabregas to fire into the side netting from a tight angle.
Then a minute later the Spaniard returned the compliment with an accurate pull-back that was met first time by Nasri and produced a superb save from Newcastle keeper Tim Krul.
The save appeared to galvanise the visitors who until that point had offered little as an attacking force although their opening goal owed more to the strength and power of Carroll than any inventive attacking play.
Midfielder Joey Barton pumped in a hopeful high free kick from near the halfway line and Carroll rose to out-jump Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski and head into an empty net from 12 yards.
It quickly became clear Arsenal would carry a more determined attacking threat after the restart with Theo Walcott coming close to levelling at the start of the second period.
Jack Wilshere, who was making his Premier League return after a three-match ban, released the England winger and Walcott was unfortunate to see his angled shot cannon to safety off the crossbar.
Wenger was clearly frustrated by his side's efforts and he introduced Robin Van Persie off the bench for the striker's first appearance since sustaining an ankle injury in August.
It was Carroll who remained the game's dominant forward, however, and he provided a reminder of his threat with a first time effort that flashed wide in the 71st minute.
Krul again saved well from Fabregas in the 82nd minute but the contest was over when Koscielny hauled down Newcastle substitute Nile Ranger in added time to earn a straight red card.