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13 August 2011
• St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
Referee: P. Walton
• Attendance: 46894
And that's me signing off. it's been a tumultuous rollercoaster of a late kick-off. Welcome back to the Premier League!
Not a good day at the office for Arsene Wenger, with the Gunners lacking of any incision or guile all game. With a difficult fixture list over the next month or so, one feels developments at the Emirates in the near future will provide a blueprint for how the club will fare over the next few years or so.
90' + 5'
And that's it! An enthralling end to a game that promised little at half-time. Joey Barton will steal all the headlines for his ugly involvement in the incident that saw Gervinho sent off. Not that Alan Pardew will care too much. It's a point gained here for the Magpies on the first game of the season.
90' + 4'
And in retrospect, a poor decision. The Gunners somehow engineer a counter, though Djourou knocks the ball well behind Walcott with Newcastle on the ropes.
90' + 3'
90' + 3'
Though Arsenal bring on Djourou - quelling the pressure here big time.
90' + 2'
Coloccini somehow finds himself out on the right flank and drifts in a dreamy ball, with Steven Taylor's headed effort cleared by Koscielny's diving heroics. If anything, it's looking like Newcastle could plunder this one.
Yellow Card Thomas Vermaelen
Which is by far and away a better result for Newcastle. I would not like to be Arsene Wenger in the next few days or so. Four minutes of stoppage time...
It's all calmed down over at St James. Looks like it's going to trundle to a 0-0 here.
Frimpong replaces Rosicky, thankfully. Not because Rosicky's done badly I should add, but I could just do with a break. It's been a pulsating 10 minutes...
Arsenal are still crafting things though - Walcott stands one up at the far post and with the goal gaping or a nod back to Van Persie also conceivable, Gibbs nods the ball into Krul's arms.
That could have been a rapid move from villain to hero - Barton brings one down on the edge of the box and lashes one over the bar.
Right, back into the football. Ten minutes left and Arsenal are a man down. What a climax to a game that looked like it was petering out.
Unclear to why exactly Gervinho was sent off. More likely for Barton's ridiculous over-reaction to the Ivorian's very, very timid lashout. He really has embarrassed himself here. "just when you thought it was going to be a quiet evening" muses Rob Stewart.
Yellow Card Wojciech Szczesny
A wind blows Gervinho over in the box and all hell breaks loose! Gervinho is sent off for his rather embarrassing dive in the Newcastle box. Before that, however, the incident brought the very worst out of Barton, who goes at indulges in a bit of slap and tickle with Gervinho, before himself going down like a sack of spuds after Gervinho appears to hit him. Not very hard at all, mind.
Yellow Card Joey Barton
Red Card Gervinho
'Spend some money' chants ringing round the travelling supporters end suggest a lack of patience with the Gunners transfer policy. In the here and now though, they seem to be running out of ideas...
I would have sent you off packing if you would have said the game would become this even at half-time, but Newcastle have edged themselves into the reckoning here. A Barton throughball almost makes it through to Obertan, but Koscielny intercepts. Down the other end, Gervinho jinks himself down to the byeline but stumbles in the attempt to float a cross over.
Things are getting spread now, with Newcastle drawing some vocality out of the crowd. Obertan has changed things up top and Arsenal now seem much more weary than in the first half.
Yellow Card Cheikh Tiote
Some rapid-fire pace from Obertan turns a lost cause into a half chance, as he hounds down Sagna and feeds the ball inside, though, once again, Cabaye is found lacking with the goal well within his sights.
Well, there we go. The substitute has almost instantaneous effect. A flowing move from the Gunners sees Van Persie feed Ramsey, who passes the ball along to Walcott and after cutting inside, the winger attempts a curler but fails to trouble Krul too much.
Walcott has just come on as the the visitors probe ways to break the deadlock, causing infinite excitement for Jack Wilshere. "Theo time....arsenal will win this game", he tweets.
That's more like it in creative terms. And I never knew Obertan had that to his game. The Frenchman produces a lovely flick inside the box to release Cabaye, yet the new signing can't rifle a shot off.
Oof Alex Song. That is nasty. Some typically robust Barton scurrying leads to the Arsenal midfielder stamping on the Magpies man whilst on the floor. Ugly stuff and very lucky the ref wasn't alert as Song's on a yellow.
Newcastle have two compact lines of four which, at the moment, are proving resistant to all the questions Arsenal are posing. Going forward, though, there seems to be little initiative, with Shola Ameobi operating as a battering ram. They're going to need some invention themselves. Unless they fancy the 0-0 that is.
And he's let rip. Decent effort, with Krul seemingly beaten, but there's a tad too much on it and the ball flies just over the bar.
Sagna is brought down on the edge of the box as he tries to cut inside Gutierrez. Van Persie lines one up from the left hand side....
Fluid stuff from the Gunners but its all very much bark with no bite at the minute.
Yellow Card Tomas Rosicky
Vermaelen pumps one forward and Ryan Taylor is forced to concede a corner to stop Gervinho getting on the end of it. Van Persie swings one in but it's promptly hacked away.
Yellow Card Kieran Gibbs
Gibbs is straight into the book for a late, rash challenge on Barton as the game soon sets into it's familiar pattern of Arsenal on the front foot.
For attendance stats fans, we have 46,894 watching today. That's about 5,000 empty seats. Unusual for Newcastle that.
On comes Obertan, making his debut replacing Ba. They're back out at St James, and we're off...
I guess Gunners fans can take some solace in Gervinho's performance - he's looked electric at times. Can't help but feel that Nasri or Fabregas would have breached Newcastle's back four though.
Anyway, off for a cuppa, back in 5.
Crocked Jack Wilshere has chipped in on Twitter, claiming that a certain man on the bench could be the key to Arsenal unlocking the door. The young midfielder tweets: "Need to get theo on and attacking the full backs!"
I'm sure Arsene Wenger will be having strong words in the changing room as Arsenal search for a breakthrough, while Alan Pardew will be hoping to keep their visitors at bay and maybe nick one on the break.
45' + 2'
And that's half time. Newcastle have left Arsenal very frustrated here. The possession was there, but clear-cut chances were few and far between. An all too familiar story?
45' + 1'
Yellow Card Fabricio Coloccini
Disappointing down the other end, as Newcastle get a promising freekick on the right flank, but Ryan Taylor can only slam the ball into the wall. Two minutes of added on time.
It's an uncharacteristic lack of a killer final ball that is letting Arsenal down this game with the hosts proving stoic in defence. Maybe I speak too soon. An absolutely delightful chipped through-ball from Arshavin finds Van Persie's narrowly onside run though the Dutchman doesn't finish with anything resembling his usual ruthlessness and is robbed before pulling the trigger.
Or there: "Yep. They're losing their way. Stage is set for another depressing day for Arsenal."
He doesn't stop there though: "While Arsenal fans have sold out their seats, there are plenty of empty ones elsewhere with at least seven exec boxes lying empty. Are fans voting with their feet? Or is it down to the economic downturn? Or school hols? Bit of all three methinks"
Tim Krul's not done too badly thus far, but our man at St James Park feels for the man on the subs' bench: "Penny for the thoughts of Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper. He's not even on the bench. If not injured, wonder if he will still be around at the end of the transfer window. Class goalkeeper who is still Premier League class."
Arsenal have gone a little off the boil here, with Newcastle's battling qualities shining through. Bit of a lull here.
That's more like it, as Newcastle build up a bit of tempo and force a corner. The crowd go mad. Yet Cabaye's delivery doesn't even beat the front man and making the best out of a bad situation Ryan Taylor tries one one from near the halfway line. Close, but no cigar, as the ball flies wide with Szcznesny looking comfy anyhow.
Arsenal still hammering on the door, as Van Persie beats a flapping Krul to a corner but sees his headed effort hammered off the line.
Here's Rob: Amazing. First booking of the season and it hasn't gone to recidivist Cheik Tiote but to Alex Song for a lung on Demba Ba.
Yellow Card Alex Song
Steven Taylor gets himself in a world of difficulty trying to maraud forward and is robbed by Arshavin. With a two-on-one scenario the diminuative Russian fails to thread through Gervinho, who would have been clean through on goal. Big chance gone begging.
Just realised how naughty Joey Barton's haircut is. We're talking a number one round the sides, with a floppy sideparting on top. Each to their own I guess. Anyway, Arsenal still on the front foot but the Magpies seemed to have slightly negated the visitors early attacking floods.
Gervinho has looked lively so far and his direct run form just inside his own half causes Newcastle all sorts of problems. The final ball is lacking though, as he tries to thread through Van Persie to no avail.
Newcastle heap on the pressure as Gutierrez tries an absolute screamer on the volley from the edge of the area. Looked spectacular but in reality was a fail bit wide.
Sorry folks, technical difficulties this end - but here's some thoughts from our man at the ground Rob Stewart: Newcastle living dangerously. If their luck goes on like this for much longer then they will fancy their chances of victory because Arsenal are bound to run out of steam and everyone knows how vulnerable they are in defence.
Break in play as Sagna goes down clutching his head. Not much quality from either side so far, with a few misplaced passes being indicative of the pressure both teams are facing to perform. Poor Barton delivery from a freekick from deep.
Well, not too bad a start from Arsenal. The Gunners soaked up a bit of pressure and countered with Rosicky scraping one just wide of the post from the edge of the box. Nervy-looking start from Newcastle.
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, is this a must win for Arsenal? There's certainly some disgruntled fans out there. The signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has hardly sent pulses racing in north London while Joel Campbell doesn't seem the kind of name to placate fans.
Meanwhile, for Newcastle, new signings Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye both start, as does everyone's favourite tweeter Joey Barton.
So, as very much expected, no Fabregas or Nasri for Arsenal as the Gunners look to usher in a new era without their biggest names. Is Wilshere big enough to fill the massive Fabrebas-shaped void in the Arsenal midfield? Well, we won’t find out today as the young midfielder is ruled out with an ankle injury. New signing Gervinho is set to give a taster of what he’s all about though.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Rosicky, Ramsey, Song, Arshavin, Van Persie, Gervinho. Subs: Fabianski, Djourou, Jenkinson, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Frimpong, Chamakh
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, R Taylor, S Taylor, Gutierrez, Barton, Tiote, Cabaye, Ba, Shola Ameobi. Subs: Forster, Williamson, Gosling, Lovenkrands, Best, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi
Great one for the neutral though – here’s hoping for a repeat of last year’s 4-4 blockbuster. Without further ado, here’s the starting lineups…
To cut a long story short, outgoing, rather than incoming talent has been the gripe of both sets of fans and Arsene Wenger and Alan Pardew find themselves under intense scrutiny before even kicking off for the season.
Though, for these two teams in particular, an extension of the close season would be greeted with open arms. Indeed, it’s hard to argue which club may have had the most frustrating summer out of the two.
Glad to be back? We are. It’s been a long, long summer but finally the Premier League is back in full swing.
Afternoon all – this is Goal.com’s live text commentary of Arsenal vs Newcastle.
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